Google Reviews and Local Search

We recently wrote a blog on a Google change coming down the line. Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE) will yet again change how people search for information online and, in turn, how your dental practice is found…or not! This online marketing change will affect the weight of your online reviews in a big way. The new AI capabilities will automatically compare businesses in the area (as long as users do a transactional search.) If someone types “best dental office in San Francisco,” your office will show up compared to others based on your star ratings. In essence, the more great reviews you have, the better you’ll rank in Google’s new SGE.

The bottom line is that your reviews will help or hurt your local rankings. So, what can you do about it to get ahead of the game?

image of someone on their phone looking at various reviews

Rustling Up More Reviews

We talk about online marketing for dentists a lot and are always evaluating new ways to cultivate online reviews, including some third-party vendors and helping our member dental offices to request online reviews. Google, Yelp, and other services are hiding more and more reviews that they believe may be fabricated. It’s frustrating! But you can still cultivate reviews the good old-fashioned way by simply asking your patients to leave a review. While this sounds like a solution that is too good to be true, it’s the only solution that review sources like Google and Yelp will tolerate. You can not:

  • Pay for reviews
  • Fabricate reviews
  • Leave multiple reviews for one business
  • Or any other underhanded, quick “hack” method to get reviews

Your reviews must be authentic, by real patients, and representative of your business. We’ve come up with some guidelines on asking for reviews based on what has worked best for our member offices. Capitalize on these ideas so you can get more great reviews!

icon of two people conversing with speech bubbles1. Have your doctor ask patients for a review as the last step in their consultation. Three of our member offices have made this a priority, Kuhn Dental Associates in NC, StarImage Dentistry in TX, and Contemporary Dentistry in NY. These three offices have 58% more reviews than the three other offices chosen at random. This goes to show: have your doctor ask for reviews; it works!

icon of a hand clicking on stars for a review2. Use a QR code to give patients an easy way to leave reviews. If there is one thing that is certain in marketing, it’s that the easier it is for people to do, the more people will do it. This is the same for reviews. Consider putting business cards with a review QR code in your toothbrush/paste goodie bags, having a small sign at the front desk, or having your front desk hand out QR codes at the end of the appointment. You’re more likely to get a review when you make it easy.

icon of an envelope with a notification signal3. Text or email your patients shortly after their appointment, asking for a review. This may seem like the most obvious way to cultivate reviews after simply asking for them in person. But there are some nuances to be aware of. When should you send your text or email? To whom? How often? Here’s our recommendation: send your text or email asking for a review shortly after the appointment within minutes of the patient checking out. They’ll see it as they get to their car or home and are likelier to do it when the experience is fresh rather than hours or days later. Be selective about who you send review requests! We recommend against sending them to everyone automatically. While you want everyone to have a good experience, that’s unrealistic. Make it a part of your front desk team’s process to send those requests to only happy patients. And as for how often to send them to each person…after every appointment! It may take them a few times to get the request actually to leave a review.

icon of a figure on a computer with a speech bubble4. Have your front desk ask for a review in person upon checking out. Being asked by a real person to leave a review gives patients a sense of obligation. They gave their word to a real person and didn’t simply get an automated request. Coach your front desk team on how to politely ask for them and give the team an incentive to get more reviews. Maybe it’s an opportunity to earn more PTO or a coffee on you; your team will appreciate the incentive, and your office will benefit from the influx of reviews.

We’ve also heard of other, more unconventional methods of seeking reviews—and referrals! Our President, Jonathan, attended one of Brad Durham’s seminars in which he talked about his technique. Brad takes professional photos of his cosmetic cases after treatment. He then sends a hard copy of the photo to the patient at his or her workplace, along with a review request. The idea is that the patient will see the photo and be reminded to write a review. And, maybe coworkers ask, “Hey, what’d you get?” and it sparks a conversation that can lead to referrals.

Obviously, you wouldn’t do this with every patient, but when the patient works in a field with a somewhat upscale office environment and has had a great experience, it’s a recipe for success. Include a note with the photo and ask the patient if they would please go online and post a 5-star review about their experience. The combination of all these positive experiences should be enough to encourage some of these patients to follow through.

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