Quick question: Are your patients reviewing your practice? If they aren’t, it may be time to start asking them to do so (more on this later...).
Although the industry was once dominated by word-of-mouth referrals from friends and family members, patients are now turning to online reviews to inform their decision-making processes.
According to BrightLocal, 86 percent of consumers read local business reviews. (That includes 95 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34.) What’s more, an industry survey found that just more than half of U.S. respondents share their healthcare experiences online. (Of this group, millennials are the most likely, with 70 percent claiming they’ve done so).
Patient referrals relay the real-life experiences of existing clientele and promote your practice to new prospects. And while referral-based marketing is by no means a new tactic in healthcare, it can be a challenge for practices to:
- Get their patients to post reviews online
- Maintain a presence across numerous channels
Why are patient reviews important in healthcare?
Okay, so reviews are important. You probably already knew that. But did you know they’re an essential building block for effective search engine optimization? In their 2018 Local Search Ranking Factors report, Moz confirmed review signals—including quantity, velocity, and diversity of reviews—as a critical local search ranking.
Reviews show trustworthiness, which as we’ve mentioned before, is a central component of any successful SEO strategy (and as Google just confirmed, an indicator of webpage quality).
Unsurprisingly, building a strong review presence begins with Google. The first thing that most people see when performing a Google search is your Google My Business listing and your practice’s star rating. And customer reviews impact your ratings. Ultimately, optimizing your listing—or listings—builds authority and ensures your reviews are consistent.
Ranking signals also include popular third-party review sites like Yelp, Foursquare, and Angie’s List. Positive mentions on sites with high domain authority increases trust and your site authority. The most credible aggregator sites rank well in search queries related to your practice—and their high rankings reflect trust in your practice. This ensures your practice is found by search engines and new patients.
How do I get more patient referrals?
Need help building up your review stable? Just ask. BrightLocal found that seven out of 10 consumers will leave an online review if requested. (Whether you ask for reviews via emails or social media posts is up to you—but no matter what you do, keep it streamlined and simple!).
However, proactive referral management takes more than just gaining new reviews. It also means monitoring and responding to reviews.
In addition to thanking your patients for enthusiastic responses, managing and maintaining feedback means answering questions and—yes—responding to negative reviews.
While one-star reviews are a tough pill to swallow, it’s possible to mitigate further conflict. Often, it’s best to own up and apologize. Know that your response will be publicly scrutinized; the way you offer a remedy may mean the difference between a lost lead and a new patient.
Healthcare online business listing management, explained.
While it’s almost impossible to ensure you’re receiving five-star reviews around the clock, it’s conceivable to manage a majority of your online reviews. This is partially done through quality control. But it’s also dependent on effective online business listing management.
Listing management helps healthcare facilities—especially those with multiple locations—gather, track, and monitor local citations. A local citation is any mention of your practice online. These mentions can happen on social platforms, Google My Business, or industry-specific directories that cater to your specific focus or specialty. (BrightLocal has a fantastic list of the top local citation sites, broken down by industry.)
In addition to influencing local foot traffic, citations shape your local search engine rankings. According to Moz, the following factors influence your rankings:
- Quantity of citations
- Accuracy of data
- Quality of platforms
Accurate, high-quality local citations send trust signals to Google, which helps build your authority. And ensuring your practice’s data is listed consistently across a mix of high-quality platforms helps you rank well in local SEO efforts.
It’s critical to maintain visibility across numerous channels, websites, and third-party aggregators. Whether you’re a healthcare practitioner or marketer, if you interact with patients, you’re impacted by reviews. Active citation management not only helps influence local search engine rankings—it allows you to keep an eye on your reviews.
How have you managed your reviews in the past?