How Online Reviews Can Help Your Dental Practice Rise to the Top

Friday, October 25, 2013

How Online Reviews Can Help Your Dental Practice Rise to the Top

Reviews matter. This is a simple fact that any business owner knows. Word of mouth can be a very powerful thing when it comes to growing your dental business.

But, what about online reviews? Do enough people pay attention to what is being said online to affect your practice?

The Role of Online Review Sites

Online review sites such as Yelp, Angie’s List, Google Places, and Bing Local give internet users fast access to location information and ratings for local businesses. An ever-growing number of searchers are using reviews to build their trust in a local business.

According to the Local Consumer Review Study of 2013, 85% of consumers said they read online reviews for local businesses, 79% trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, and 73% of consumers said positive reviews online make them trust a local business more. Customer reviews help you engage and understand potential patient needs, and also can help you improve your online visibility in search results by increasing trust (and click-throughs) for your website.

The Role of Social Media

Bing Local business reviews

Bing Local search results show dental practices with positive reviews at the top of the list.

How exactly do search engines such as Google, Bing and Yahoo use reviews in search results? Google and Bing both show the number of reviews a business has in its local search results, but reviews go beyond simple review sites. With the growing popularity of social networking, searchers have even more access to opinions than ever before, and search engines are utilizing activity on social sites as favorable indicators. Google factors in the number of +1s from Google+ in its website rankings. Bing recently rolled out their new Smart Search feature, which incorporates reviews from places such as Facebook and Yelp in results for local businesses.

Online reviews are increasingly becoming more about personal recommendations and interactivity on social platforms, and because of this, sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ are playing a bigger role in how a website performs in search.

How Your Dental Practice Can Benefit from Social & Reviews

What does this all mean? What is the best way to incorporate social sites and reviews into your dental marketing plan? First, if you don’t already have a presence on online review sites, or social media sites, then, you will want to actively work on claiming and optimizing those listings. Always make sure your business name, address, phone number, business hours, and website URL are current so people can find you and contact you.

Create a space in which you provide expert advice and information about your dental practice or dentistry in general. Share and engage with your audience. When customers feel engaged, they tend to be more loyal. They become advocates for your dental practice.

Google business reviews

Google highlights business reviews in search results, making it easy for patients to see what other think of your dental practice.

With social media, engaged customers can endorse your company to thousands of people instantly. When that happens, it can be a very powerful experience for both you as the business owner, and for potential patients reading the glowing review.

Additionally, dental practices with negative reviews will want a policy or platform for responding openly to negative reviews. A bad review is not necessarily a bad thing. Use it to reach out and change that experience into something positive. If the reviewer is not interested in responding, it at least shows future visitors that you are concerned about your patient’s experience and you are willing to go that extra mile.

Your dental practice also will want a process in place for generating new, positive reviews from happy patients promoting what you do best. On a review site such as Yelp, this has double the impact by driving any negative reviews further down the page and away from the first six review slots which are usually the most visible. Keeping a fresh rotation of positive reviews on all platforms will help boost your search rankings higher by increasing click-through rate from search engine results pages to your dental website.

Remember, reviews don't just affect the impressions a searcher has on your business; it can also affect how your dental practice is found on Google, Bing, and Yahoo search engines.

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