How Medical Practices Can Use Patient Reviews to Boost Search Rankings

patient reviews

Healthcare practices can strategically use online reviews to boost their organic search rankings.

In the age of Zocdoc, Healthgrades, Google My Business, and Yelp, most healthcare providers are more than familiar with receiving online reviews. However, not all HCPs are well-versed in how to use these reviews to boost their search rankings and attract more patients to their practice.

Though reviews are often seen as a resource largely for consumers, it’s possible for businesses — including medical practices — to take advantage of review websites as a powerful SEO tool. According to Moz, online reviews make up an estimated 10 percent of Google’s search algorithm, a sizable portion that can make or break your SEO strategy.

Fortunately, with a few simple steps, you can leverage your reviews to achieve stellar search rankings — though, as with all organic digital marketing efforts, it requires time and effort to pay off.

Playing a Reviews Number Game

The first step to harnessing the power of reviews is to generate a store of positive patient feedback. Most consumers don’t think to leave reviews if they have a good or neutral experience with a healthcare provider or other business, though upwards of 30 percent of people will leave a negative review if they have a bad experience.

For this reason, it’s important to make a conscious effort to source reviews from as many patients as you can. Fortunately, many are willing to step up — one study shows that 70 percent of consumers will leave a positive review if asked. Of course, these reviews must be voluntary, as not all patients are comfortable discussing their health online. 

If you do work in a sensitive specialty and are having difficulty sourcing reviews as a result, consider requesting feedback on anonymous sites such as Trustpilot rather than sites like Yelp and Google that require a full name and photo. Ask for reviews about one to two days after patients’ appointments via email or text message, and include a link to the relevant site to make the experience as seamless as possible. Consider including some prompts to encourage a thorough review.

Handling Online Reviews, Both Positive and Negative

Your healthcare practice’s job doesn’t end once a patient review has gone up online. Google has confirmed that responding to reviews shows “that you value your customers and the feedback they leave about your business.” These responses therefore provide an SEO boost, whether the reviews are positive or negative.

Of course, responding to bad reviews is very different from responding to positive reviews. If your healthcare practice receives a negative review, reply promptly and calmly. Thank the reviewer for taking the time to leave a review, apologize for their bad experience, and offer them an avenue to contact you offline, thus removing the conversation from the public eye.

If you receive a good review, responding is more straightforward. Thank the patient for their review, and encourage them to visit your practice again for any relevant health needs. Fortunately, whether your reviews are good or bad, the way you respond to them says more about your business than the reviews themselves — if you treat patients respectfully online, customers will assume you do the same offline, as well.

That said, responding to reviews isn’t just about building your digital presence— it also means taking patient feedback as helpful constructive criticism and making appropriate adjustments in response. Reviews can help you improve your practice and serve your patients better, both online and off. In time, this will likely translate into higher website traffic and increased patient conversions. 

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