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Leveraging the Internet Part 2: Attract New Patients with Online Reviews

Move over baby boomers. There’s a new sheriff in town that’s driving messaging and marketing strategies for many businesses. In recent years, the number of millennials in the US surpassed the number of baby boomers – and the gap is only going to grow.

Despite its relative size and market power, many dentists struggle to find ways to connect and engage with millennials. That is because millennials’ communication and selection habits are significantly different than the generations that came before them.

These differences come as a result of the rapid technological advancements that have taken place during their lifetime. Many millennials grew up with the internet and messaging apps, and have had instantaneous access to information.

When compared to other generations, millennials are less loyal. However, their lack of loyalty is not always bad—this means that if you can create the most convenient option for the patient, you have a great shot at winning their business.

Understanding how millennials search for dentists online is critical to a dental office’s success. Knowing that more than half of millennials will search online and read reviews, you need to prepare accordingly and do what you can to make sure your online reputation stands out.  

How reviews impact local search ranking

Today’s consumer is relying more and more on online reviews to make informed decisions, and according to Moz, online reviews play an increasingly important role in Google’s local search algorithm. While it can be difficult to know what Google is looking for and what will make you practice stand out most on search engine results pages, they have indicated they are looking at the following factors in your online reviews: recency, frequency, quality, and quantity.

Recency: Having recent reviews is important because your service is going to vary over time, and the older your reviews are, the less trustworthy they’re going to be. In fact, research has found that 77 percent of consumers don’t trust online reviews that are older than 3 months, with 18 percent not trusting reviews that are older than two weeks. What that means is collecting reviews is something that has to be done continually.

Over the years, Podium has worked with many businesses who will make pushes to collect reviews one or two times per year and then stop. This typically happens when they get a bad review they want to bury. The problem is that many consumers will see right through this. To ensure you are ranking high, you need to have a consistent stream of reviews coming in.

Frequency: Google wants to see that you have online reviews coming in on a regular basis. With the right strategy in place, it’s not unusual for dental practices that Podium works with to collect 20 to 30, or even more, reviews each month.

Quality: There are two things that Google is looking at when it comes to quality of reviews—your overall star rating, and the quality of your review content. Google’s goal with reviews is to help online searchers make the best possible choices by serving up the best possible businesses. That’s why what your reviews say actually matters as much as your overall star rating.

The problem some practices run into when trying to improve the quality of their review content is their patients don’t know what to say when it’s time to leave a review. That’s why we suggest asking for feedback on a specific aspect of the patient experience. This will help your patients collect their thoughts and leave you a review that is helpful to both your practice and to future patients.

Quantity: We’ll keep this last one simple. When it comes to reviews, more is always better, so long as you adhere to the other criteria cited above. Moreover, the more reviews you have from actual patients, the more trustworthy your online reputation will be to potential patients. Because Podium integrates with Open Dental, you will be able to automate the process of asking all of your patients to review your practice, which will result in a significant increase in new reviews.

Standing out in searches

Once you start improving your online reputation, you should see a lift in your local search ranking, Now you can start optimizing for typical searches patients conduct when looking for a new dentist. Highlighted below are some common online searches today’s consumers are using:

1)    A generic search like “dentists near me” or “dentists near their city name

2)    Or it can be the name of the practice: “Dr. Jane Smith DDS

3)    Or type of procedure like “adult teeth cleaning” or “root canal

Now for scenario 1, you need to show up on Google search. Period. There is no arguing that Google is the king of online search, and Google has announced it has shifted from mobile-first to AI-first. This means that Google will use all kinds of data, including Google reviews, to determine the best result for end-users. The AI-first approach will encourage voice-search, less user filtering, and more autonomous results determining the outcome. This means that the reviews will help AI and machine learning to determine the best dentists in the searcher’s area.

For scenario 2, it’s even more important to ensure that accurate information is presented on your Google My Business listing. It is estimated that only 44% of local businesses have claimed their Google My Business listings. If you haven’t, follow the instruction here and get access to it now—it’s free. Then make sure accurate information is presented. Basics like operating hours and holidays are obvious, but generating reviews on Google will help patients see authentic information that will help drive more business.

Lastly, scenario 3 will depend on your practice. If you are a specialty practice, make sure your services are listed online. If you offer flat-fee procedures (especially for new patients), promote the special pricing on your website and in your Google My Business Listing. And more importantly, make sure to have a mobile-friendly website. Also, as people complete those specific procedures, ask your patients to leave their remarks online on places like Google or Facebook and let their peers know about their experience.

In short, practices must adapt to show up on Google searches. And those who can really capitalize on their happy patients being their best advocates will see their listing rise above their competitors. Getting your happy patients to leave a positive review can be the best long-term marketing a dentist can afford.

Click here to learn more about how to automate review generation with Podium, and increase your online reviews by up to 15x to attract new patients to your practice.

In case you missed it, here’s our Part 1 post:
Why Google is King in Getting Your Practice Found and Chosen

Stay tuned for more…

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