The Ways Reviews Impact Rankings
Most doctors understand the value that online reviews play in building a positive reputation and new patient trust. But did you know that reviews can also have a direct impact on where you rank in the search results?
All else being equal, Google ranks pages with higher and more positive reviews over their competition.
According to Moz's authoritative 2015 Local Search Ranking Factors report (image below), reviews play an 8.4% percent role in determining where you rank in the local search results.
That may not sound significant, but with increasing competition, every part of your online marketing campaign counts. That 8.4% could be the difference between lots of new patients finding you online every month, and no new patients.
Impact on Search Results Rankings
There are number of factors that go into Google's considerations for reviews.
Google actually understands the sentiment of reviews. If your practice has a bunch of negative reviews, Google will be less likely to rank you highly because they want to provide the best possible results for their searchers.
But if you have lots of positive reviews, all else being equal, Google will be more likely to rank you above your competition, as the image above demonstrates.
Content of Reviews
Another factor that can help your rankings is if your money keywords are incorporated into your reviews. For instance, if you're an Orthodontist, reviews including the words "braces" and "orthodontist" can actually help you rank for those terms in your local area.
Reviews on 3rd Party Sites
Don't focus solely on getting reviews to your Google My Business page. It's important to build reviews on 3rd party sites like Yelp, Yellowpages.com and ZocDoc.
Not only can these sites serve as an additional funnel of new patients, Google itself sees these reviews. When Google sees positive reviews about your practice all over the web, on authoritative sites, they trust you more and will be more likely to rank you prominently.
Don't make the mistake that a lot of doctors make: running a review campaign in which they get a bunch of positive reviews in short period of time.
It looks strange when received, say, 20 reviews in October 2015 and then 1 or 2 reviews thereafter. Google also recognizes this as unnatural and it may trip a spam filter, harming your rankings.
What often drives this is when an angry patient leaves a negative review. The doctor is caught off guard and decides to 'dilute' the negative ratings with a bunch of positive reviews.
Instead, remember that slow and steady wins the race. Build your reviews naturally and slowly. Not only will this help your rankings, it will also immunize you against the inevitable negative review.
Putting It All Together
With these ideas in mind, start sketching out a strategy for building positive patient reviews on Google My Business and other 3rd party sites. These reviews can help you can gain new patients through having an excellent reputation and the improved rankings.
Check back for more specific ideas on how you can grow positive reviews.
Want help setting up a custom, long-term review strategy for your practice? Contact me here!