The Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK care home providers has just been published. Learn how the top 11 UK care home providers perform across the digital space.
The latest Q3 2023 benchmarking report for UK care home providers has just been published. It covers the largest 11 national care home providers, including Barchester, Sanctuary Care, Caring Homes, HC-One, Avery, Four Seasons, Hamberley, Care UK, Signature, Maria Mallaband, and Runwood Homes.
The research gives an inside track on who is winning the biggest share of voice online, and quantifies the gaps, risks and missed opportunities for other care home providers to win brand exposure locally, drive organic visibility, and generate online enquiries. The report highlights quick wins that will improve enquiries from your online strategy and identifies the barriers that may be reducing your site’s ability to optimise digital performance.
To see a preview and contents page of the Q3 report, click here. To get a copy of the full report and the key takeaways, please complete the enquiry form or schedule a call.
Q3 2023 WINNERS LEADERBOARD
For a glance into just 6 of the metrics, we evaluated these top 11 care home providers on, check out our quick-look table below;
Continue reading for further detail on this quarter's top and poorest-performing care home providers, or request a copy of the report for the full review.
What The Industry Research Report Covers
The 70+ pages of research benchmarks each site based on 50+ metrics and indicators of successful digital strategy, including organic visibility, domain authority, paid media ads, conversion performance, technical performance, site speed, universal search, content, social ads, accessibility, and mobile performance.
Driving Optimal ROAS from Paid Media Channels
Some of the leading players in the space are high spenders on paid media channels such as Google, Bing & Facebook - but have a poor or sub-optimal conversion improvement strategy. Without an optimised, sophisticated conversion strategy that maximises the conversion rate, the return on investment is unsustainable or will underperform. Scaling spend on paid media is not achievable unless the conversion rate delivers optimal performance in the sector. Some in the space have paid media spend levels from 30k+ per month but dedicate minimal resources and budgets to conversion testing. Given the cost per clicks on ad networks will continue to rise, we recommend spending at least 10% of your paid media budget on ongoing conversion optimisation testing schedules to ensure your paid media ROI maintains long-term viability, competitive advantage, and sustainability.
Technical Website Compliance
Savvy digital marketers know that having a technically sound website is an essential component of a successful fully integrated digital strategy - plus a site capable of maximising conversion performance. For care home providers, they'll need to be particularly mindful of creating a positive site experience at a potentially stressful time for families. They'll need to ensure pathways to key pages such as fee information and locations are clearly marked, and that users can trust them from the offset to provide an excellent level of service and care.
In Q2, Barchester was returning the highest level of 4xx errors, with a total of 204 appearing in our audit. Barchester has now slightly improved on this figure, reducing the total number of 4xx errors on the site to 164. Though there is still room for improvement, Barchester is no longer the poorest-performing site when it comes to technical compliance, with HC-One now flagging 433 4xx errors in our crawls.
Site Speed & Conversion Rate Performance
When 62% of consumers are less likely to convert if they have a negative mobile site experience, ensuring that your site is quick and easy to load makes a significant improvement on your overall conversion rates. As with minimising the levels of technical errors, care home providers will want to make sure users have a positive experience at every touchpoint, including by serving a fast, high-performing site which doesn't cause frustration.
As in our last report, Barchester has the fastest-performing mobile site, slightly increasing its score to 46 in Q3. The slowest site is currently Four Seasons, which has scored only 7 points - 21 points behind its next closest competitor.
Building Competitive Advantage with Domain Authority
Domain authority is an essential metric for measuring the effectiveness of SEO performance, and helps create a reliable overall gauge of how effective your site is at achieving organic traffic, i.e. ‘free’ traffic that isn’t gained through sponsored ads. For brands operating in a niche sector, such as care, building authority may feel challenging. However, care home providers can make the most of local publications, as well as repurpose existing content to capitalise on relevant events and industry trends.
A ‘good’ DA really comes down to how your competitors are performing, however it’s generally considered average between 40 and 50, good between 50 and 60, and excellent above 60. UK care home provider DAs range from 59, from Care UK, to 32, from Hamberly. For Hamberly, and other brands towards the lower end of this scale, they'll need to reassess their digital PR and outreach strategy, to ensure they're capitalising on opportunities to grow their backlink profile.
Organic Performance – Mobile & Desktop
A strong organic performance is strategically important as it ensures your site ranks above competitors for key, transactional keywords. When 93% of your customers won’t go past the first page of Google, your absence or lack of targeting for essential keywords will cost you conversions. Though we're seeing reductions in traffic across many sectors, due to the cost of living crisis, care homes will always remain an essential service. Care home providers should therefore be mindful of losing any traffic to their competitors, rather than losing traffic from a shrinking pool of interest.
Care home providers most commonly secure their traffic from desktop users. Looking at desktop visibility, we can see that seven out of our eleven care home providers have secured growth in traffic year-on-year - down from eight in our last report. Avery has seen the largest growth in desktop traffic, securing 56% more organic visitors than in 2022.
Universal Search Opportunity
Google Universal Search Results is an evolving opportunity to make your pages visible on a SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Universal results often appear before traditional listings and are eye-catching for users. Universal search results refer to rankings on a SERP that are not the traditional ‘blue line’ Google link, and a site can appear for universal search results without being strong in standard rankings. For care home providers, they'll want to capitalise on the opportunity to share 'Reviews' and 'Image Pack' results to give prospective residents and their families immediate insight into life at their locations.
'Images' are back to being the most frequently appeared-for Universal Search result, with all eleven care home providers securing appearances for this visual result. Though not the leader in terms of image results, Barchester remains the top performer in Universal Search, with its 6,000 reviews securing this lead.
The Longtail Keyword Opportunity
Longtail keywords are often considered high intent and potentially more likely to convert as a searcher is being more specific. Optimising for longtail keywords also puts your content strategy in a strong position to rank for brand new search terms as they enter Google’s index. Longtail keywords for care home providers could show high-conversion intent, or they could be questions about life in a residential care home, or the application and fee process.
Compared to many sectors we review, each brand is ranking for a comparable number of longtail keywords, with brands towards the end of the scale still showing a great deal of potential to improve. Though HC-One are ranking for largest volume of longtail keywords overall (with 17,375 appearances in the top 100 positions), Care UK are appearing for more keywords in the top three positions, and an even higher amount in positions 4-10. This not only shows that Care UK are performing well for their existing longtail keywords, but are in a great position to boost this even further. Other care home providers will want to review their current longtail keyword portfolio, to identify high-potential keywords to target their optimisations towards.
With the number of Facebook users in the United Kingdom (UK) forecast to hit over 42 million users by 2022, it is not surprising that companies have jumped at the opportunity to advertise on the social media platform. Facebook’s UK digital advertising revenue has been estimated to have breached 2.6b GB pounds in 2019. For care home providers, Facebook ads are an opportunity to effectively (and quickly) manage exposure and visibility in key locations where they have room availability.
We've included examples of Sanctuary Care's Facebook ads below. As in Q2, Sanctuary has used ads targeted to a specific area, offering users a free event to attend, acting as an introduction to the provider and their services. The event itself is a great way to create additional touchpoints for Sanctuary and prospective residents, and makes for a compelling call to action for the ad campaign as it comes at no cost for the user.
Top Social Shares & Content
When it comes to social media and on-site content strategies, it is important to release content that has a longer shelf life. An article is considered 'Evergreen' if it has maintained its relevancy to an audience for longer. It's great for your brand engagement, but great for Google too, who will recognise content which achieves traffic over a long period of time. For brands in a service-based sector, such as care home providers, content is an opportunity to create long-term touchpoints with prospective residents and their families, by creating pieces that help support them through managing at home, before guiding them to care home residency when the time comes.
Facebook is the most-used platform by our care home providers for sharing content, with HC-One securing the biggest following, with 17,700 likes. Though Instagram is currently an underused platform, care home providers should look at the potential for expanding activity here, as an opportunity to share information about daily life at their locations that their residents' families may want to engage with.
Website Readability & Accessibility
20% of people in the UK have a disability – 2 million of which are people living with sight loss. In addition, 1 in 12 men and 1 in 200 women have some degree of colour vision deficiency. When websites are not designed to meet these needs, care home providers can lose the interest or prospective residents, who may turn elsewhere out of frustration. Unsurprisingly, this is particularly essential in the care sector which caters to both older customers, and those looking for quick, well-presented answers during what can be a challenging time.
Typically, care home provider sites are well-maintained, with limited barriers to accessibility. However, brands are not without fault. Signature Care Homes recorded 233 alerts in our audit (slightly down from 243 in Q2). Though alerts are not critical errors, they can indicate potential barriers. For example, unnecessary alt text and incorrect heading hierarchies may interfere with screen readers used by visually impaired site users.
GET THE FULL 79-PAGE Q3 2023 REPORT
To get a copy of the full report, please complete the enquiry form. If you want to talk to us about accelerating your digital performance, please call us on 01543 410014 or schedule a call with Mike Movassaghi.