The pandemic has changed consumer behaviour for good, including the importance of reviews when selecting a healthcare provider.
In fact, we’ve seen a staggering 132% increase in reviews left since the beginning of the pandemic and 79% of consumers believe that reviews are important in selecting care. As consumerism continues to take shape in healthcare, managing your reviews for your providers and your facilities needs to be a main priority to drive patient acquisition.
But while those stats show why reviews are important to the patient journey, what you might not know is that they also have a substantial impact on your SEO. Here’s how.
Objective Answers, Subjective Answers and Your Search Ranking
To fully comprehend the true role that reviews play in your search strategy, you need to understand the different types of answers your consumers see in search results: objective versus subjective answers.
Often, people are asking questions that have objective answers, such as the address of a practice or which kinds of insurance you accept. When it comes to these essential facts about your services, people and places, then you are the expert. You can and should be in control of these facts everywhere they appear, delivering accurate answers at every stage of the consumer search experience.
But you can’t deliver every single answer that patients and consumers need. Sometimes, they want to hear other people’s feedback, which means they’re looking for subjective answers. Subjective answers include opinions, reviews and recommendations. Google reports an 80% increase in mobile searches including the phrase “should I” over a two-year period. When customers perform these types of searches, elements such as your ratings and reviews are going to help you rank in search results.
Organisations can’t control these types of answers directly. Most review sites have guidelines in place to ensure that review content remains as subjective as possible. But you can influence the subjective answers people find out about with effective reputation management – by encouraging, monitoring and responding to reviews across digital properties – and by taking action on negative reviews to ensure consistency and quality throughout the consumer experience.
So, monitor and analyse the feedback people are already leaving for you around the web. Your patients are telling you how to create a great experience, and you just have to listen. Respond to their feedback about your services, your healthcare professionals and more, and make changes as you can, while encouraging them to continue leaving reviews so that you have recent ratings for search engines to draw upon.
Remember, a great experience creates natural brand advocates. Ratings are a reflection of what you’re already doing and they amplify your existing reputation publicly.
Reviews Influence Whether You Rank At All
You probably know that these subjective answers about your organisation online shape consumer perception and impact their decision to visit you. But reviews can also affect whether your business shows up in search results at all. Search engines such as Google often pre-filter results for searches including terms such as “best” (e.g. “best ENT near me”; “best insurance plans for families”), and will only show results for businesses, organisations or professionals with a 4-star rating or above.
Similarly, when you ask Alexa or Siri for a recommendation for “best” anything, it’s reviews that inform how they surface the “best” answer.
Wondering what extra steps your healthcare organisation can take to ethically build positive reviews? Here are some best practices for responding to reviews and other tips.