Feline happy over your SEO

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Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Elizabeth Newman, McKnight's Senior Editor
Given the response to last week's post about the Affordable Care Act and the Supreme Court, I've decided there's only one way to make this week's blog as successful in terms of readers and story hits.

I'm going to discuss the individual mandate … for felines. My cat Simon (see photo) is ready to take your questions (he's quite vocal) and discuss other matters related to healthcare reform, all of which will help www.mcknights.com keep those hits and comments on the rise.  (Although there is a caveat: Simon doesn't like to discuss the rising rates of pet obesity, for obvious reasons, and he also doesn't particularly like name-calling.)

In all seriousness, most of us can only hope to have a website, video or page as popular as cats playing Patty Cake, a cat playing the piano, or a cat taking a shower. So barring having a cat ready to shoot a video on behalf of your long-term care facility, what can you do to try to boost the number of visits to your website?

One place to start, of course, is by actually having an easy-to-find website. It's amazing how many times we reporters type a facility name into Google and what comes up are court records, a senior referral agency or a questionable database. If a potential customer is searching for where to place his or her loved one, why are you making it so difficult for them to get to you?

Once you have the web page, it's equally important to make sure you have good Search Engine Optimization and have good “Google Fu.” When you use a browser, keywords bring together a list of websites almost instantaneously, and algorithms rank the pages. If you're not paying attention to SEO, “you're making a terrible mistake, and losing about three-fourths of the purpose of having a website,” says Pam Selker Rak, the president and founder of the marketing agency CommuniTech. I asked Rak and Nick Lucente, a consultant at Varsity, to offer some tips on what can help facilities and companies in their SEO endeavors.

• Whatever methods you choose for SEO, don't cut corners, Lucente advises. “'Black hat' is a reference to misleading or manipulative tactics to rank high on searches,” he warns. “Google punishes those types of tactics.”  Rak also points out that Google doesn't let you “buy your way to the top of that list.”

• Social media (i.e. Twitter, Facebook and the like) does have an impact. Blogging also allows you to engage with your potential audience. Social media often acts as “gateways back to your blog,” Rak says.

• Use tools, such as Google Analytics, to study how your rank. “Google Analytics will tell you what you've done right and wrong,” Rak notes.

At the end of the day, high quality should be prioritized over cheap quantity, and the content must be relevant to what the user is looking for, Lucente and Rak agree. Like so many things, good, clear information is often what leads to success.

Or you can hire Simon to make a video for you.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.

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