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The Role Patient Reviews Play in Local SEO

Justin Knott
President, Intrepy Healthcare Marketing

Why Do Patient Reviews Matter?

You probably started your medical practice because you love helping people. Running a business and marketing yourself is probably not your passion! When you’re focusing on giving patients the care they need, it’s easy to lose sight of the importance of successful healthcare marketing, to make sure your practice survives and thrives.

Marketing isn’t easy. Finding the most rewarding ways to focus your time, energy, and money on building up your practice can be very difficult.

Luckily, there’s an easy way of promoting your business, and you can tap into it easily. By encouraging patients to leave positive reviews on websites, you can build positive word-of-mouth, and lead other potential patients to your practice.

The Power of Testimonials

new patient reviews healthcare marketing

Experts estimate that people are bombarded with as many as 5,000 advertisements each day. As a result of that media saturation, many audiences are jaded and don’t react well to advertisements. It can be hard to cut through the noise and make a positive impression with traditional advertising.

One of the easiest ways of doing that is by harnessing the power of testimonials. People know that a nameless, faceless advertisement, funded by a company, may not tell the truth. But people tend to trust testimonials and reviews: they come from members of the general public, who don’t have an agenda.

You might think a testimonial from a stranger doesn’t have much positive effect. But research shows this isn’t true: 88% of people trust online reviews as much as they trust a personal recommendation. An estimated 92% of people use online reviews when choosing a business — and a medical practice is no exception.

The message is clear: testimonials and online reviews are a powerful tool to promote your practice. They help patients trust you and help them assign a story to your name. But that’s not all they do.

Improving Local SEO

When you search online for the type of medicine you practice, plus your geographic area, what do you get? How high up in the search results are you? How many of your competitors are listed?

Your practice’s search results matter. In this digital age, many patients find businesses, including medical practices, via search engines. Three-quarters of these users don’t click past the first page of results. If you’re not on that first page, you risk being overlooked — no matter the quality of the services you provide.

Search engine optimization, or SEO, is the art of pushing your site up search engines’ rankings. Local SEO involves carefully curating your keywords and contents, as well as those of pages that link to your site, to get more traffic to your site. More online traffic, of course, means more business.

By encouraging your patients to leave positive reviews on business listings sites, you’ll get one of the most positive and helpful Local SEO boosts there are: organic descriptions of the services you provide, on a highly-ranked page that links directly to yours. Google and other search engines rank review sites highly when considering where to rank your site, so you can’t overlook the power of this simple technique.

When it comes to Google’s “3 pack” of local search results, the highest influencers that affect ranking are proximity, relevancy of the search query, and reviews. Therefore, generating new reviews consistently is critical to ranking high and staying there.

The Struggle for Reviews

Unfortunately, even if many practices know about the necessity for reviews, they have trouble getting them. Despite the fact that so many patients rely on reviews when choosing which practice they’ll go to, many patients don’t think to leave reviews for other people to read.

Many physicians or staff are uncomfortable asking patients to leave reviews. It’s one thing when a restaurant or a retail shop asks customers to leave reviews, the argument goes, but a medical practice should stand on its own merits. Asking someone to leave a review turns medicine — a science and a service — into just another commodity.

But that simply isn’t true. Reviews are a valuable part of the decision-making process for many patients. By reading about others’ experiences, patients can make informed decisions about the quality of the care a practice provides. 68% of patients form an opinion about a provider or practice by reading only 1 to 6 reviews.

Not every practice provides the same standard of care, and reviews reflect that. Reviews don’t cheapen the services a practice provides. Instead, they help patients understand the excellent services you offer and the fantastic level of care your practitioners offer.

Getting the Reviews You Need

Now that you understand the role that reviews play in local SEO and how critical they are to influencing new patients to choose your practice, how do you go about streamlining the review generation process in a HIPAA-compliant manner?

Patients are constantly inundated in all aspect of their lives with requests for their time and information. Therefore, you have to make it as convenient as possible and close to the point of services rendered to increase the likelihood of a review conversion.

Make sure to create a streamlined process to collect reviews at the point of checkout or sometime near that point. We have found that is the highest level of review conversion. Also, utilize not just emails but SMS text messages as the form of delivery. Text messages are what email used to be before spam. They have as high as a 99% open rate! That is incredible.

The final point is to make sure to provide flexibility in the form of the platforms you seek reviews on. For local SEO there are a few major platforms to focus on but you want to make sure you have a good balance between them all. Also, if you force people by only requesting them to leave a review on Google it can lower your chances. For instance, you must have a Gmail to leave a Google review so if they do not the chances they will create an account just for you is nearly 0%.

However, they may be extremely active on Facebook so it would take them 60 seconds to go to your Facebook page and leave a 5-star review!

Handling all of these things manually can be a daunting task that is why leveraging a powerful healthcare focused reputation management software can help ensure success. Do your research and make the investment into something or someone you think will help the practice succeed in your local SEO strategy.

Conclusion:

Again: you’re in the medical business, not the marketing business. Expecting you to do all your marketing in-house is unreasonable.

That’s why it’s so important to hire an online reputation management firm like Intrepy Healthcare Marketing. This type of marketing firm focuses specifically on HIPAA-compliant review management and curating positive patient reviews as part of a comprehensive local medical SEO strategy.

By hiring someone to engage in careful review generation for your practice, you’ll see more new patients come to the door of your practice. They’re more likely to find you in the first place because you’ll rank more highly in search engine results. Plus, when they do read about you, they’ll discover the high-quality services you provide, and you’ll cultivate trust with prospective patients. Review generation services are a powerful way of investing in your business, and one you shouldn’t overlook.

Intrepy Healthcare Marketing is a medical and dental focused digital marketing agency that has years of proven experience build search engine strategies that generate new patient growth and drive revenue. Call us or fill out a form today for a FREE SEO audit.