By Eric Bunnell, Get Practice Growth

Everyone seems to agree that online reviews are important. However, I don’t believe businesses understand the critical component reviews play in search rankings and decision making—especially with regard to local competition.

Here’s why they’re important, how you can get them, and why including video testimonials on your site is an important sidebar.

Why Reviews Matter So Much

They impact SEO.

Reviews can account for upwards of 30% of your search engine ranking performance, especially so in the Maps section. SEO companies don’t always like admitting this, but Google made it clear that what people think of your business will impact your search rankings.

They can be tiebreakers.

When it’s difficult to differentiate between practices, quality reviews will often act as the tiebreaker between two offices. Your website and branding can only do so much to persuade a prospective patient that he or she should choose your practice.

Best Practices for Review Generation

You should have an online review-generation strategy. But how should you gauge its effectiveness? Primarily through the consistency and frequency of reviews generated.

There are really only two proven methods to create consistent and frequent reviews.

The first is the old-fashioned way. You develop a process with your front desk that actively solicits reviews from your patients. If the process is truly built into your business operations, this can be an extremely effective and thoughtful review generation method. Unfortunately, the average practice does not have the operational bandwidth to implement this approach properly.

The second method is the tech way, and the one I highly recommend. It requires using a software tool that automatically sends text and email requests to your patients asking for a review. It enables a practice to consistently and frequently ask patients for reviews in a non-intrusive way.

Comparing Review-Generation Software

It’s important to note there’s a major difference between a pure online review-generation software and a patient recall-and-reminder system that also sends review requests.

Pure online review-generation tools send review requests directly to Google, Facebook, or Yelp.

Patient recall-and-reminder systems use microsites to collect the reviews. Microsites allows practices to censor their reviews, and only receive reviews over 4 stars.

We’ve had the opportunity to test the systems, and there’s a clear winner. Pure online review generation tools are 100 times more effective. This is because Google prohibits censored reviews, and only gives ranking credit to uncensored reviews.

As a marketing agency, we see the most success with platforms like BirdEye, Swell, Podium, and Weave.

The Future of Reviews: Video

Over the past year, Google has been beta testing the concept of video reviews in its Maps section.

In anticipation of Google allowing videos in its review section, marketers are proactively advising clients to produce video testimonials. (At GPG, we like to call these video trustimonials; thanks to Dr. Len Tau at BirdEye for coining that phrase!)

The first-mover advantage is real. If your practice consistently releases video testimonials now, it will be positioned to capitalize on the release of Google video reviews before most of your competition does.

Though they don’t directly impact the reviews portion of Google’s search algorithm yet, you can also benefit from using video testimonials right now. Video is a content type that Google gives more ranking credit to than regular text content, so it provides an SEO benefit.

Your video testimonials can even be one of the videos that comes up when a Google search is made—a video search listing.

Get Practice Growth is a full service dental marketing agency that builds custom websites and produces videos for its clients, and offers exclusive package pricing to TDA members.