Today we are featuring a guest post from Zach Zavoral, Marketing Communications Specialist with SolutionReach, the company that brought us SmileReminder. We asked Zach to share his perspective on online patient reviews for dentists. At Page 1, we help our clients get positive reviews, but we know that SmileReminder is a tremendous asset to dentists looking to improve their online reputation. Following is Zach's guest blog post.
Dentists go gaga over online patient reviews like 13-year-old girls with Bieber tickets. But why? Is it because they impact prospective patients’ decision-making? Or because online reviews are hot and we’re told to worship them like hipsters worship the latest iWhatever?
Online patient reviews can be the determining factor in a prospective dental patient’s decision … but only with a correct understanding of how patient reviews affect a dentist’s local search rankings, and where patient reviews stand in the decision-making process of prospective dental patients.
The general belief among dentists is:
“When prospective patients search for a local dentist, my patient reviews will persuade them to choose my practice.”
Within that statement are a couple broad assumptions that I’d like to dispel.
“When prospective patients search … my patient reviews will …”
That’s assuming prospective patients even see your practice in local search results, and assuming that your reviews are part of those results.
Patient reviews only carry substantial weight in the Google ranking algorithm if they’re from reputable review sites recognized for truthfulness and value in the decision-making process … as determined by the almighty Google. Those review sites include Google Places, Yelp and Angie’s List.
A dentist’s hundreds of patient reviews posted on their Smile Reminder or Demandforce reviews pages will no longer raise the dentist’s Google ranking.
On a “Local Search” forum this week, Linda Buquet, a Local Search Specialist and former Demandforce consultant, noted that Demandforce reviews don’t carry the Google weight they used to. Buquet wrote that when Google searching for dentists in San Francisco, “Cynthia K. Brattesani with over 1300 DF reviews always used to be #1 and now she's (third). All of the other SF Dentists (on the first page) used to have over 100 and some 300 DF reviews. Now just a couple have 100+, but a couple have 0 DF reviews.”
The point is: Prospective patients won’t see your online patient reviews unless your practice and reviews appear among the top in local search results. To get your practice among the top sites listed in local search results, you need to work with an SEO company that specializes in dentistry like Page 1 Solutions. Use Smile Reminder to get more patient reviews on Google and to link your Smile Reminder reviews to your Google Places page.
“… patient reviews will persuade them to choose my practice.”
That’s definitely true, but only after the prospective patient has completed a few steps in their decision-making process.
When a prospective patient Googles “nearby dentist”, they’re not necessarily searching for reviews, yet. They’re simply searching to know their options …
“I need a dentist, Google shows me that I am near five.”
Then, after seeing their options, they internally weigh what they’ve heard from trusted sources, like friends and family. They’ll even ask their Facebook friends for advice …
“Jenny said never to go to Dr. A. My mom said Dr. C was the best, but then again, my mom lost all her teeth.”
After finding their options and adding mental notes from trusted, known sources, only then will the prospective dental patient consider online reviews. Which reviews will they read? The ones right in front of them when they searched: Google’s.
The point is: Secure a positive social reputation and your online dental reputation will soar.
Are online patient reviews really that valuable? The answer is: Only if you make them valuable by improving your Google ranking and filling your Google Places page with legitimate reviews from patients.
If you have questions about online patient reviews for dentists, you can contact Zach Zavoral at SolutionReach - 801-331-7242.