Why Google reviews are changing the way patients choose dentists

The impact of one patient’s opinion of your practice can be far-reaching, for better or for worse.

Pennwell web 180 294

By Glenn Lombardi

The impact of one patient’s opinion of your practice can be far-reaching, for better or for worse. An in-person referral may reach one or two people, but an online review has the potential to reach an exponential number of potential patients who spend a great deal of time on the Internet.

Being proactive about your online practice image and taking steps to ensure your most loyal patients know how to offer their praises in the form of an online review is critical to managing and encouraging a positive reputation on the Web.

Pennwell web 180 294An increasing number of online consumer review sites such as Yelp, Merchant Circle, Insider Pages, and Angie’s List allow patients to compliment or criticize dentists publicly or anonymously on the Internet.

These sites aggregate reviews about your practice in a single listing, making it easy for patients to assess the opinions of others before making an appointment. If you do a simple search for your name or practice name on one of these review sites, you may be surprised to find a handful of reviews, some positive and others less appealing.

Of all of these local search and review platforms, Google is undeniably the leader, not only in searches with 66% of market share, but also in reviews. Google makes it extremely easy for patients to post reviews of a practice quickly, and since this is the No. 1 place people turn to for local information, you can’t afford to ignore your Google presence.

To ensure your practice has good visibility and a positive standing in the Google search results, you need to verify your Google Place Page. Your Place Page is an essential step for improving your search ranking and helping patients find information, read reviews, and get a basic feel for whether or not they want you as their dentist.

How it works

A patient looking for a dentist in Chicago may type “dentist Chicago IL” into Google. The first search results in the search engine are the “Google Place” results, formerly known as Google Maps. To the right of each search result are the “Google Reviews” with a star rating. As a searching patient, which of these dentists would you be more inclined to click on or call — the one with five gold stars and 30 great reviews, the one with no reviews, or the one with three or four horrible reviews?

Asking patients for reviews

Once you have claimed, verified, and optimized your Google Place Page, then you need to implement a strategy to get your patients to review you online. Good reviews will help bring in new patients who waver on the edge of a decision, and help you identify what your patients really think about you, your staff, and your services.

After patients’ visits, simply ask them if they enjoyed their appointment. When they say yes, ask them if they would mind reviewing you, and then show them all the convenient ways you have created for them to do so. This may include handing them a small business card with step-by-step instructions on how to access your Google reviews page and leave a review. For tech-savvy patients with smartphones, you can generate a good review before they even leave your office. (Your website provider should be able to create a mobile-compatible version of your practice website that links directly to your Google Place Page where patients can review you from their smartphone or tablet.)

A first page Google ranking combined with positive patient reviews is one of the best ways to win clicks and secure new patients. In less than a year, you can garner enough positive reviews to combat the one or two negative ones that will inevitably appear from time to time, thus positioning your practice as the “dentist of choice’’ for patients who find you online.

Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, a provider of dental websites and Internet marketing strategies, such as social media, search marketing, reputation management, and mobile websites. Officite has built more than 7,000 websites that have generated more than half a million new patient appointment requests since 2002. For more, visit www. officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.

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