Posted On
July 26, 2017

How Online Reviews And SEO Are Linked Together

How Online Reviews And SEO Are Linked Together 1

Now, this may seem like a no-brainer, but here’s the truth about online reviews and SEO:

Google listings with more stars get more calls and traffic to their website.

Like the majority of people, your prospective patients are going online as the first step in their decision-making process. After typing in a few choice keywords and hitting “search,” they are shown star ratings from all kinds of sources – Healthgrades. MD.com, Yelp, ZocDoc, and more.

Because of how widespread their use is, online doctor review sites often rank very highly on search results pages. As a result, practitioners need to make sure that their website is optimized to fairly compete with these reviews and that there’s a strategic reputation management plan in place to make sure the realities of your practice are reflected fairly online. If not, a patient could see alternative review sites before your own site which is a major (but fixable) SEO issue.

Most healthcare searches are localized, meaning many practices should turn their focus to Google, which now displays the “local 3-pack.” This feature will be discussed in more detail later in this post.

With Google, the volume and positivity of online reviews are ranking signals which makes review building an important part of your practice growth strategy.

Any directory like Google My Business, Yelp, and Bing use review quantity and variety as ranking factors. As prospective patients are searching online, they’ll encounter and consider these reviews while making their decision. Higher quality reviews, when paired with a dedicated effort to respond to patient concerns and questions in the reviews, will generate more phone calls to your practice, more online requests for appointments, and more traffic to your website.

5 Ways Reviews Affect Your Business and Local Search Results on Google

This video from BrightLocal (below) explains that recent studies have shown why most people trust online reviews as much or more than personal recommendations and the impact that has on your overall search rankings on Google.

In this digital age, having a better ratings and more reviews than your competitors make it more likely that patients will do business with you. Consider these statistics:

  1. 91% of consumers now read online reviews for local businesses
  2. 84% of consumers actually trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations – trusting the content of the reviews at a very high level
  3. Leading to 68% of consumers saying that Positive reviews make them trust a business more once they’ve had a chance to read positive reviews about them.
  4. With positive reviews consumers are 63% more likely to choose a local business over one of their competitors.
  5. Only 11% of consumers are not influenced by reading reviews. leaving 46% of consumers selecting a local business based on other factors.

Because more patients are seeking reviews online, they’re putting more trust in the information that they glean from review sites leading them. If these review sites are all saying good things, people are more likely to trust your practice and potentially determine whether or not make an appointment with your practice.

Positive reviews also increase your search rankings and clicks from search to your businesses website.

Most Healthcare Searches are Localized

Google’s local 3-pack is Google’s most influential way of listing local businesses within search results. The 3-pack only shows the top three businesses within the searcher’s area. In the past, you could rank lower and still have your business displayed, but Google has worked to improve results by taking reviews and ratings into account when creating the 3-pack for every search.

On the search results page itself, the 3-pack will only display your business name, number of Google reviews, the average rating of your reviews, and a link to your website if you have one (You do have a website, right!?).

The sentiment and content of reviews then plays an important role. It’s been proven that there is a correlation between number of reviews and the ranking placement i.e. the more reviews that you have, the higher you will rank as a result.

So, why is Google trying to gather more and more information about businesses through reviews and other methods? It’s simple: they want to present the best search results possible to searchers. In all, the better that Google performs, the more people who will continue to use their services, so it’s in their interest to display the best businesses in the area.

A great way for Google to get information about a business is to look at what consumers are writing online through reviews. Google then references these reviews placing importance on the sentiment and content of these reviews. For you to continue ranking highly, your customers need to paint a pretty picture of your business via online reviews.

Quality of Reviews AND Quantity

The quality of reviews always matters but so too does the quantity of reviews to get into, and remain in, the top three positions of Google’s local 3-pack. Unfortunately, Google hasn’t divulged a “magic number” of reviews that businesses should aim for, making it clear that business owners must make getting more reviews a constant effort.

If you have no, or very few, reviews, a good rule of thumb to follow when you’re first starting to increase the quantity of your reviews is this: for every 7 positive reviews you get, you can increase your star ranking by 1. There’s a cap on that, but when you first start off, you’ll see some exponential growth.

Generating reviews and outranking your competition go hand in hand. Managing your online reputation can be a full-time job. RepCheckup can show you how to automate the process of soliciting reviews to make it easier on you and your staff.

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Garrett Smith
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RepCheckup is an online reputation management software that helps businesses enhance and protect their online reputation.

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