What You Need to Know About Online Reviews for Your Practice

By Ian Mcnickle, MBA, WEO Media

Imagine you’ve just arrived in a city you’re not very familiar with and it’s dinner time. What do you do? If you’re like most people these days, you’ll pull out your smart phone and search online review sites such as Yelp for nearby restaurant reviews. In fact, over 90% of consumers now read online reviews to help them decide where to go and what to buy.1 While it is true the most commonly searched category for online reviews is restaurants, most people don’t realize the second most commonly searched category for online reviews is dentists/doctors.2 The days of ignoring your online reviews are over.

Why Online Reviews Matter
There is a major trend towards patients researching their healthcare providers before visiting an office, even if they were referred by a friend or another healthcare provider. Recent surveys have found that 80% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as personal recommendations from people they know. For many, this is an amazing statement, but the reality is that our society is changing at a rapid pace and dental practices must focus on their online reviews and online reputation.

The Big Four Review Sites for Dentists
In the dental industry, the most important review sites are Google+, Yelp, Healthgrades, and Facebook.

Google represents about 65% of all online search traffic and features its own reviews from Google+ so those reviews will generally attract more readers than other review sites. Reviews on Google+ have the added benefit of helping your website search engine optimization (SEO) perform better in online searches related to dentistry.

Yelp has become one of the leading review sites in the country and regularly ranks highly in local search results when people search for dentists. In addition, the Bing search engine displays Yelp reviews as its primary reviews shown in search results.

Healthgrades is the largest healthcare directory and review site in North America and has over one million visitors every day. As with Google+ and Yelp, a solid Healthgrades profile helps both online reputation and website SEO.

Over the last few years, Facebook reviews have become increasingly important since Facebook is the dominant social media site. Facebook has over 1.5 billion regular users and most of them look at reviews on Facebook business pages when researching a business.

What You Can Do For Your Practice
To get the maximum benefit from these review sites, WEO Media recommends the following strategies:
Completely fill out your review site profile pages with business information, photos, videos, office hours, specials, and any other relevant information about your practice.
Link to your review sites from your website to encourage existing patients to write reviews and potential new patients to read your reviews.
Implement a proactive strategy to generate more patient reviews on these review sites. However, we highly recommend you contact your state dental association or dental board to make sure you understand the rules for soliciting reviews from patients in your state.

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