Why Reviews are So Important for Your Practice

We get that online reviews can be a frightening thing to think about.

People usually don’t like to be judged – unless they’re 100% sure that judgment is going to be in their favor. (People who go on singing shows seem to believe this will be the case much more often than it is.)

Also, just like Simon Cowell tearing down one of those wannabe pop stars, negative feedback can feel terrible if you’re on the receiving end. And no matter how good you are, the internet practically guarantees that you will receive negative feedback sooner or later.

Online reviews can feel like an untamable Wild West that’s best left to its own devices, but that mindset is neglecting something that has a big influence on your overall marketing, and something you can influence positively!

So why should you care about encouraging reviews?

People Really Do Read Them

This is consistently confirmed by statistical research. According to a 2018 survey from BrightLocal, 97% of consumers went online to look up local businesses, and 85% of consumers treat online reviews in the same regard that they would a personal recommendation.

(According to a Nielsen survey, that latter figure is even higher, at 92%!)

What this means is that people can and will be checking out your local listings for reviews. If they do it for plumbers and taco joints, they’re going to do it for their medical professionals as well. What they see there, they will take into consideration.

Now, don’t panic! There might be a fake review on your listing (which you should be actively fighting to take down), or even some negative ones. These are not deal-breakers to a great many review readers. Many of them can smell a fake review when they see it, and we’ll dive into negative reviews a bit more later.

The bottom line, however, is you want people to have genuine, positive reviews waiting for them when they come to your listings. A strategy for encouraging this type of feedback can have a significant impact on whether someone decides to go with you, or choose a competitor.

Google Pays Attention to Them

The full array of factors Google uses to determine where business settle in their rankings is never fully known, nor is the exact weight each of these elements has in consideration.

When it comes to listings, however, it’s clear that reviews do have an influence on local rankings.

According to Moz, online reviews account for an estimated 10% of influence among overall ranking factors. That’s nothing to sneeze at!

It’s not all a numbers game with reviews, either. Having more reviews is better, but it also appears that Google takes into account the regularity of reviews as well.

In other words, getting 50 reviews in one day is likely not as good as having those same 50 reviews spread out consistently over several months. (In fact, a dump of reviews like that could possibly be flagged as suspicious.)

Diversity is also a potential factor, as well. This means reviews of varying lengths and potentially even differences in keywords. Having the same cookie cutter response stamped to your reviews is not going to work.

What does this all mean for you? That a steady, consistent plan for encouraging positive and – again – genuine reviews can pay off with a steady rise in local search rankings over time.

They’re an Effective Way for YOU to Make Your Voice Heard

People come to online reviews to see what others have to say – obviously.

But here’s a crucial point many business owners forget: Potential patients want to see what YOU have to say, as well!

Most review sites provide the opportunity for the business or practice to respond to customer feedback, and it’s very important that they do so.

In the 2018 BrightLocal survey, 30% of respondents said that a reviewee’s responses to reviewers was a key factor they considered when deciding their opinion on a local business.

The reason for this is much more down-to-earth than you might think – plus it speaks to why a negative review doesn’t have to be a death knell for your reputation!

At the core, very few people expect any person, business, or practice to be perfect. Gain enough experience in the world and you realize you can’t please everyone – and the people you can’t please tend to go to the Internet to vent.

Almost nobody expects a perfect, 5-star overall rating for a business. In fact, studies have suggested a perfect 5 may raise a level of “too good to be true” suspicion, and that ratings within the 4-star range are considered more reassuring.

So people expect a little negativity in reviews, but they also hold in high regard the way that businesses respond to it.

We recommend responding to all reviews that are made, positive or negative. But responding to negative reviews can be especially powerful in swaying visitors to commit to you.

People want to know that if a problem does happen to come up during their experience with you, that you have the fortitude and commitment to acknowledge it and try to make it right. Responding to your reviews shows that you care about what patients have to say and are willing to listen—elements that go a long way in today’s world.

It might not be fun, but it has an effect.

Don’t Ignore Your Reviews Any Longer!

Reviews not only influence how potential patients metaphorically see you, but also their likelihood of literally seeing you in search results—or in person! A steady and involved review strategy should be part of any practice’s marketing plan.