Optimize your site for better search engine results that cater to the senior market
by Oliver Feakins
December 19, 2013

There has been a great deal of speculation about how and why seniors and boomers use the Internet. Some still believe that seniors can’t log onto a 
computer, let alone navigate the Internet. This may have been accurate 10 years ago, but it doesn’t hold true for today’s senior consumers. Google recently released a study on how both seniors and boomers use the Internet; the study shows that 82 percent of seniors use it to search for information about a particular product, service or topic. Also, more than half of America’s seniors rely on video content to help them with purchasing decisions. After talking with a number of business owners in the HME industry at Medtrade in October, it became clear that today’s businesses are missing a golden opportunity. When it comes down to optimizing websites for the way seniors search the Internet, most businesses are missing the boat. In today’s online world it is imperative that your business website appears in the search engines when seniors are in buying mode. With that in mind, we have pulled 
together five easy tips for better optimization of your website for senior search engine traffic while also improving the overall user experience.

1. Provide rich content

Seniors require an ultra-rich content 
experience when searching the Internet for products or services. A small paragraph on a landing page is not going to cut it. Studies show that seniors will click through a website for at least seven pages before making a decision. Help reduce the need for further information by pulling all their needs together within one or two pages. This holds especially true for pay per click (PPC) landing pages. Consider adding tabs, which pull in more relevant information while the user remains on the same page. Video is the preferred media of seniors and should be used to answer questions while promoting trust and authority on the subject matter. Consider organizing your website navigation by what makes sense for your audience—which may be different than how your company would organize your information. Seniors need to be served relevant 
content and video as soon as they hit your site, so keep it above the fold. This may also require you to find out which of your site pages contain keywords that rank in general search engines. You may find that the keywords that your site ranks in Google might direct people to the wrong page. Optimizing your content for both search engines and the user experience will not only increase user engagement but will also help you rank higher in the search engines.

2. Merge online and offline marketing

Direct mail is still an effective medium for the senior market. Most companies are missing out on the opportunity to have their offline and online mediums work together. Consider having your website and social media channels match the same promotional message and branding as your direct mail campaigns. Most seniors will respond to direct mail with an online action, usually searching for information about your company or product. If you are running pay per click ads, consider using the same promotional language in your ads. You’ll also want to run branded ads (that are triggered by your company name) which include website URLs and 
common name misspellings so that it will pick up any stragglers who are trying to research your company further online. By optimizing your offline and online marketing campaigns, you will be more likely to receive a higher percentage of accompanying website sales or leads from your direct mail efforts.

3. Make phone calls count

When seniors are in buying mode, assuming there is not an e-commerce option, there is no better goal than having them call into a ready and waiting sales team. Post your phone number at the top of your site on every page. Encourage your audience to call in with questions or to get more information. When it comes to website goals, phone calls can be 
easily tracked by using phone call tracking software. Vendors such as Mongoose Metrics (mongoosemetrics.com) allow you to track and record phone calls that are made from organic or paid search traffic. These systems also work with analytics modules such as Google Analytics so that you can analyze your website’s traffic and 
corresponding phone calls in one place. These tools also give you the ability to listen to recorded calls so that you can gauge the level of traffic quality while improving your company’s sales techniques. Additionally, you may want to consider assigning tracking numbers to your offline efforts. This will help you identify underperforming mediums and compare the results across all of your advertising channels.

4. You need YouTube

As previously mentioned, more than half of today’s seniors are actively incorporating videos into their online searches. The majority of users are watching videos on YouTube (youtube.com), but they are also consuming video content on sites such as Vimeo (vimeo.com) and Facebook (facebook.com). Entertainment and utility are the top two reasons seniors watch videos online. Most seniors watch videos to be entertained, with a particular interest in funny clips. Google reports that three out of 10 seniors will take further action involving video (such as sharing a link via e-mail or 
posting to their social media channels) after an initial search. We also know that 39 percent of seniors click on a secondary link after viewing an online video. I’d recommend creating a series of short videos that answer questions related to your 
product or industry (without selling them). Providing educational or how-to video content is an inexpensive way to leverage your knowledge and become a subject matter expert.

5. Add pay per click advertising

Pay per click marketing is a flexible and targeted way to acquire website traffic. It also makes it easier for the senior audience to click on your site. Google Adwords allows you to target related terms and stand out from the crowd. Besides placement at the very top of the search results, Google offers ways for your ads to differentiate themselves from your competitors. Consider using site links, ad extensions and product listings to generate more clicks and close more sales. Don’t forget to target mobile phones, as most seniors are moving to smartphones. It is also recommended to add call extensions to your mobile campaigns that display a clickable phone number in the ad that automatically dials from your phone once it is clicked. Pay per click marketing should not be ignored, however, this is an advanced tactic that should be managed by a PPC professional or Internet marketing agency. As seniors gain more online experience, the fight for limited search engine real estate will grow more competitive. Use these steps to move your company toward digital success.