The Intake

Insights for those starting, managing, and growing independent healthcare practices

How online reviews affect SEO for medical practices and doctors

Learn why patient reviews are critical to your practice’s digital footprint.

Opening yourself up to online feedback can feel a little unsettling — especially when you consider that most of your patients aren’t at their best when they visit your practice. Even so, providing patients the means to leave an online review can do wonders for your SEO ranking.

Online reviews can:

  • Lead to additional patients
  • Make it easier for potential patients to find your practice online
  • Move your practice’s site up to a higher-ranking search engine page

The thing is, it’s one thing to ask your patients to leave a review about their visit. It’s entirely different if you try to get their review to kit on specific keywords to improve how the search engine bots find you. Let’s investigate solutions and why this is critical to your practice’s digital footprint.

What difference do online reviews really make to your SEO ranking?

It’s an interesting fact; 75% of people who conduct online searches will never scroll to the second or third page of search results. That population is responsible for over 50% of organic online searches.

According to a study conducted by Semrush, one of the key factors to landing in one of the top 3 search engine ranking positions is to consistently have at least an overall customer response rating of 4.1. The same study also determined that the median number of reviews required to help a local business rank well was close to 30.

Ultimately, you want your site to have the most customer reviews compared to other local physician practices.

One of the key factors to landing in one of the top 3 search engine ranking positions is to consistently have at least an overall customer response rating of 4.1. ”
2021 Local SEO Rankings Study

What you hope to gain with your patient satisfaction surveys

At the end of the day, you have multiple desired outcomes when collecting patient feedback and reviews via your surveys:

  • Learn what worked well and what didn’t
  • Develop an additional layer of rapport with your patient
  • Help others find your practice
  • Help others have confidence in your competence

When it comes to your SEO ranking, these also help your cause. Having information about your practice that potential patients can read enables you to become known as the best option for future patients’ needs.

How do you make reviews work well for your practice’s website?

Have you ever been handed a survey, and the person said, “I really need to get good ratings, so I’d appreciate all 5s?” It’s an annoying experience that lends itself to insincerity and a lack of process integrity.

Although it’s accurate that you’d prefer to only receive “5” ratings, there’s a better approach you can take when asking people to complete your patient satisfaction surveys. Your patients don’t want to feel like they’re a number being funneled through your practice. They want to be seen and heard as valued individuals.

With that in mind, ensure your survey process is:

  • Created on a 5-point scale, so it fits into the search engine aggregation process
  • Focused on the patient’s experience
  • Brief and to the point
  • Designed to provide a place for free-form clarifying responses
  • Offered via multiple formats — Mobile (voice or text), an online form, a hard copy that is completed in the office or mailed to the patient’s mailing address, sealed in an envelope, and sent to a third party for input and compilation
  • Developed to post to your website
  • Editable only by the submitter
  • Designed to notify the submitter when a response is posted to the data they provided via the survey

Tell your patients you want to know how they felt about their experience in your office because you want them to be comfortable and have a positive experience. Therefore, their feedback is important to you.

When a patient takes time to provide feedback, it’s imperative that you show them you value the time they took and respond to the information they provided. Replying with a simple “thank you for taking the time to complete the survey. We appreciate it” will let the patient know you’ve reviewed their feedback.

When a patient takes time to provide feedback, it’s imperative that you show them you value the time they took and respond to the information they provided. ”

What do you do with less-than-favorable responses?

You can’t make everyone happy all the time. It just won’t happen. This is particularly true when you consider that many don’t feel well when these patients visit your office. That fact will likely impact their mental and emotional perceptions.

When someone leaves an unfavorable review, thank them for taking the time to complete the survey. Next, invite them to contact you via a separate email address or scheduled call. Let them know that you want to make sure you are clear about what you and your practice could have done differently to make the patient feel valued.

You want to take the discussion off of the public forum both for patient privacy purposes and to protect your practice’s reputation.

Bad reviews happen. Nobody is exempt from some disgruntled responses.

A few negative reviews will ultimately work in your favor.

While people want to see great reviews, at the same time, they tend to distrust what seems to be perfection. After all, the adage “if it looks too good to be true, it probably is” exists for a reason. Whether they realize it or not, most live by this approach to life.

Another upside of online reviews

When you publish reviews on your website, you essentially allow “guests” to post content on your site. Search engine bots (robots) find this information valuable. They:

  • View the content as recent additions to your site’s subject matter 
  • Learn more about your practice, what you offer, where you offer services, and why you’re a valued community member
  • View your site as active and not dormant

All of these result in higher SEO rankings.

You want online reviews posted (or tagged) on your practice’s website

Although opening your professional reputation up to unknown and uncertain feedback can be unsettling, it’s ultimately a win for you and your practice.

The more you open your practice to online feedback, the more you help your practice’s SEO results and grow your practice and name.

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Published by Tebra

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