The art of Search Engine Optimization

by Jody O’Donnell, SEO Manager, G5 Search Marketing

“You need SEO.”

“Your Web site has to be optimized.”

“You don’t want to be the only senior housing operator in your area without an optimized Web site.”

Sure. That’s great. But what does any of that mean?

Well, let me tell you.

SEO Defined

Is it Search Engine Optimization? Is it keywords? Is it the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)? Is it Pay Per Click, meta tags, Google Maps, Yahoo Directory, Kansas and Toto? Yes to all of the above. Except maybe Toto.

English translation: Search Engine Optimization is how you organize your Web site content, meaning the structure and presentation of the information so when people search for Senior Housing in your geographic region, you pop up on the Search Engine Results Pages.

Succinct translation: The art and science of making Web pages attractive to the search engines.


Keywords are the single most important factor in maximizing your SEO efforts. For senior housing, you will find that the big-ticket keywords fall into the services and amenities: assisted living, independent living, skilled nursing, etc. You don’t want to select keywords that people would never use to look for your services and product. Most of the time, your keywords are easy to identify as those words are standard industry terms or key phrases.

Striking the balance

After researching your keyword market, what do you do with it? You take your keywords and distribute them throughout your Web page. Now, Web pages have content that the everyday user can see. But each Web page also has space behind the scenes for information to help attract search engines. These are called meta tags. Which meta tag is the most important is a raging debate across the SEO world.

The take-away: a well optimized Web page will strike the delicate balance of distributing pertinent keywords that match the page’s visible content.


SEO is about simple creativity. For example, if you wanted to rank well for “assisted living” you would add that particular keyword phrase to all the meta tags and also sprinkle it liberally throughout your Web site copy. There are plenty of “experts” who will tell you how many words and how many times. Better advice is to use these words liberally—but pull back when it looks like spam.

So how do you use two-, three-, and four-word combinations and keep it interesting and unique without “keyword stuffing”? Just a few uses of your keyword “assisted living” could easily be too many if your sentences are also repetitive. You have to shake up what you use and how you use it.

A fun, non-industry example to illustrate the point: “whale blubber.” How many other ways could we use “whale blubber” or extensions without cursing our text as “keyword stuffing”? I could say “whale’s blubber” if I were describing a single whale’s blubber. “Whale blubbers” or “whale blubbering” if the whale was unable to contain his pathetic, wracking sobs.

In senior housing, an oft-used keyword phrase is “Alzheimer’s Care.” People search two distinctive terms: for this type of care: “Alzheimer’s Care” and “Alzheimers Care”. The search volumes are pretty close in Google’s Keyword Tool. By having both of these terms, you double the potential search volume for a single keyword phrase.

SEO is not just an art, but one that requires a strong knowledge base on an industry if you want to succeed on the Web and have your Web site found online.

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