Managing Your Online Reputation for Senior Living Providers

By Pam McDonald

The following are actual snippets from online consumer reviews of senior living communities in various locations.

“This community is one of the most expensive senior living residences in our area. It is well maintained and has very good meals, but, each month my parent stayed there, the bill was incorrect. We were overcharged for services and hours. Yes, they agreed these were errors and they removed the extra charges. But, if you have a loved one stay there, go over each month’s bill carefully. . . .”

“Unreal. Yesterday I received a phone call from this community asking if my deceased uncle was still interested. Seriously?”

“. . . I have never seen a business anywhere where the managers don’t have voicemail. It appears they don’t want to hear from you. The regional director was supposed to call me and did, but left a brief message with no return number or e-mail. I called the number that showed up on my phone and it just rang and rang. Even corporate doesn’t have voicemail. Amazing!!!”


Do you know what’s being said online about your community? Can you afford not to? Use of consumer review sites is astounding. As of 2014, Yelp, the most popular online search and rating site, gets 132 million visitors monthly and has over 57 million reviews., the leading resource for seniors and family caregivers (and a Senior Housing Forum partner), gets over 3 million unique visitors each month.

A group of Silicon Valley SEO experts,, annually conducts a Consumer Review Survey and, in 2014, found:

  • 39% of consumers read reviews on a regular basis

  • 88% of consumers have read reviews to determine the quality of a local business

  • 88% of consumers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations

  • 72% will take some sort of action to contact the business after reading a positive review.

Ratings was the first senior living referral site to introduce a star rating system for its visitors. Annually they announce “Star Winners” — communities with a minimum of three reviews, at least one 5-star review, an average overall rating of 4 stars, and no unresolved negative reviews. Examining quantitative data from the past two years, found, on average, that their Star Winners get twice as many leads and move-ins as communities that did not win the award.

The American Marketing Association points out that negative feedback will be far more influential and credible than positive feedback. In fact, for two out of three purchasers the decision is not based on the highest scoring review, but by preceived risks associated with worst-case scenarios.


Given the potential for both significant positive and negative effects of online commentary, Senior Housing Forum Publisher Steve Moran and Editor Pam McDonald co-authored an eBook titled Managing Your Online Reputation for Senior Living Providers. In addition to describing who writes consumer reviews, who reads them, and their effects on consumer behavior, the eBook offers an easily followed, 3-step reputation management process that includes:

  1. Assessing, Claiming, Posting and Monitoring Your Community’s Online Reputation, which explains the critical nature of search engine results; provides a reputation management assessment form; and details how to respond to and gain postive reviews on Yelp, set automated alerts for any online mention of your community, and proactively monitor your communities search engine results. 

  1. Optimizing Content You Control, which gives dozens of senior living-specific tips for maximizing positive coverage on your website, blog, Yelp business page, LinkedIn company page, Wikipedia,, and Senior It also describes the value of Press Releases and details best practices for being social on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter.

  1. Getting Great Online Reviews and Testimonials, which offers 30+ recommendations for getting and using consumer reviews and testimonial.

Managing Your Online Reputation for Senior Living Providers is available through and, during the holidays, is offered at a reduced price of $3.99. “We don’t think online reputation management is widely practiced at the community level,” Steve says, “and it should be. Our hope is that this specially discounted price will get a copy of the eBook into every community.”

Order your copy here: Managing Online Reputation for Senior Living Providers