By Susan Saldibar
Search marketing is really cool. But you might be thinking, “Yeah, I have to do that, but it is impossible to really figure it out.” Not True. You can win here like crazy and save huge aggregator fees. Here is why it is so cool:
- It is the only ‘intent-based’ marketing vehicle that exists — meaning it gets your website content and your community in front of a searcher at the exact moment of interest. Before the aggregator, honest!
- It’s limited to two channels — this means it is easy to focus your attention and manage your campaigns.
- Search is much less affected by all the privacy controls being put into place.
I recently talked to Chris “Wes” Westmeyer, founder and president of Caring Advisor (a Foresight partner), and he shared some jaw-dropping insights about how the “big guys” (like A Place For Mom) work.
Don’t stop reading because you think this is another article dumping on APFM. (Or maybe that is the thing that will keep you reading.)
There are things you really need to know about the search playing field. If you don’t, you can really get hammered by the big guys. And you may not even know it.
Here are 7 facts about APFM
- They own and continually optimize their main website. To put that into perspective, they target tens of thousands of longer tail/lesser searched keywords and we know this because they have a mind-numbing 153,000+ pages on their website.
- They have a huge network of websites and affiliates. (Wes showed me the APFM list and it blew my mind. He’ll share it if you want to see it.) You are thinking “Yeah, I know that”. But you have no idea how many.
- Their affiliate marketing program is one of the most ingenious and far-reaching efforts in their search marketing arsenal. This program allows other websites to participate in the money being generated by the leads that are being sold to communities.
This allows them to appear many times within the same search result. Not only do APFM websites appear, but other affiliated websites also show up, knocking your site down the list, maybe even to page 2.
If you assume that there are up to 14 search results (4 paid ads, 10 organic listings) then they could ultimately benefit from having access to as many as 6-8 of these results (or 43-57%) on any given search result.
- Their websites rank for millions (you heard that right) of keyword searches. Think about the coverage and your ability (or, more likely, inability) to compete.
And that goes for even large communities who suddenly become miniscule in comparison.
To put this into perspective, the APFM network has over 22 times the search visibility compared to the largest senior living community website.
If we compare an average senior living community website, the APFM network has 543 the time search visibility.
- They eat their competitors. Check out OurParents.com (https://www.mcknightsseniorliving.com/home/companies/a-place-for-mom-adds-ourparents-brand-to-portfolio/). But they won’t eat us. We are NOT their favorite.
- They bend (or break) rules. They are able to dance around the Google and Bing double ad serving limitation and lock up more ad space by creating with secondary brands, like SeniorAdvisor.com, and running ads for both brands at the same time.
On the surface, Google and Bing say that is not allowed, but in reality, it happens often.
- They get senior living communities to advertise and build their brands for them at no cost. Their whole ‘Best of Senior Living’ awards program was created to get their branding on hundreds to thousands of community websites.
While the communities are looking for ways to differentiate or promote themselves, they are inadvertently increasing their costs for digital lead acquisitions.
Now you know. So if you’re using an aggregator like APFM, Wes wants to make sure your eyes are open as to how they work, their reach, and exactly what you’re paying for.
Should you quit them altogether? Maybe, maybe not, but if you start thinking about how to reduce your dependency on them you will spend less money with them.
The Big Idea
You should start planning how you are going to handle your search leads going forward and be aware that there are solutions to reduce your dependence on these types of sites. There are other senior living directories out there that are more aligned with and benefit the search user and the community.
This is a tough, competitive industry. It got even tougher over the last year. Insights such as these from Wes are invaluable and deserve to be heard. How you use them is your decision.
Wes and his team are offering free listings on the Caring Advisor website. Given all that they’re doing, it sounds like a good move to get one for your community. You can get it here.