Bad Strategy: Review Manipulation

Whether you’re a dry cleaner or a dentist, you need positive online reviews from people who have used and liked your goods and services. The more of them you get, the better off you are: they help drive new business, and help you rank in Google search results.

google_01The quest for more and better online reviews has led some businesses to try to manipulate the process: engaging in shady practices that, in the long run, do more harm than good. These practices include paying for positive reviews, offering incentives to customers, and recruiting friends or family members to leave you glowing reviews.

Bad ideas, one and all. Trying to influence online reviews with contests or other incentives is against Google’s Terms of Service. When any business does it, it is almost guaranteed to result in Google deleting the reviews. They could also be fined by the Federal Trade Commission.

woman_01aIt’s tempting to think Google won’t find out, but the chances are they will. Someone will turn you in. It might be an unhappy customer, a former employee, or one of your competitors. But someone is probably going to notice, understand it’s against the rules, and notify Google. It happens all the time.

Strategies that run afoul of Google policy include:

  • Review contests. This strategy enters reviewers into a contest. Google explicitly prohibits offering incentives – products, money, or other prizes – in exchange for reviews.
  • Offering free or discounted services. Google forbids businesses from offering reviewers discounts or free services for their reviews, even if it’s something inexpensive.
  • Review-gating. With this practice, a business takes customer reviews, but only the positive ones are posted online.
  • Review swaps. You review my business, I’ll review yours: that’s the basic idea. It may not be a deal with the devil, but it too is against Google’s TOS, which says clearly that reviews should reflect a genuine customer experience.

Each of these practices will result in some kind of penalty from Google, usually the deletion of the reviews in question.

Google, as a search engine, loves fresh content. This is one of important things about reviews, and why you should be seeking new and positive ones. It just needs to be done within the guidelines. As we described in a previous blog post, there are simple, effective techniques you can use to boost the quality and quantity of your Google reviews.

Getting your practice noticed by potential customers is an ongoing challenge, but you don’t have to do it alone. ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm specializing in helping dental practices reach their audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

The Growing Importance of Google Reviews

When all is said and done, a dental practice is a business. Patients are really customers, and they want to find the best dentist they can.

How does anyone find a local business these days? You Google it and check out reviews. As it turns out, dental practices are among the businesses most likely to have a review on Google.

google_03Google reviews is a feature that allows users to write their own reviews of local businesses. They appear, along with a star rating, in Google search results. Maybe it’s because everyone needs to see the dentist, but dental practices get more reviews than plumbers, more reviews than real estate agents, and more than lawyers. That’s according to a recent study by BrightLocal, the SEO and local citation platform.

Google is by far the most-used search engine on the Internet. That means the Google reviews your patients write, and the stars they award, are extremely powerful; they make a big difference in driving new traffic to your practice.

BrightLocal says that review signals are more important to local search rankings than ever before. “Review signals” is an umbrella term describing different aspects of a company’s review profile. The more positive reviews a business has, the better.

stars_01

Most of us do at least some online shopping. Think about it: before  anything goes into your shopping cart, you read the reviews of other customers, or at very least check how many stars a product has. They can be the deciding factor whether you buy something or don’t.

It’s the same with Google reviews. They’re a modern word-of-mouth. The experience others have with local businesses has a big influence on spending habits. A restaurant with poor reviews, and only one or two stars, means you’ll probably dine somewhere else.

It all begs the question, what can a dental practice do to encourage more, and better, Google reviews?

Ask for them. The direct approach can work wonders. It’s okay to ask your patients to review your practice.

But you don’t want to ask a patient (whose mouth may be numb) for a review right after an appointment. Instead, send an email a few days later, thanking the patient for choosing your practice. Include a polite, no-pressure request for a Google review.

Show them how. Some of your patients may need a pointer or two on how to leave a Google review. It’s really quite simple. All they need to do is:

  • Log into their Google account.
  • Google your practice.
  • Click on “Write a review.” Write the review, select a star rating, and click the Submit link.

That’s all there is to it!

Remind them. After the initial request, it’s okay to remind someone to leave a review. Don’t do it right away. Give them a week or two, and send a follow-up reminder.

There is one very big caveat to asking patients for Google reviews: never offer them any incentives. For one thing, it isn’t ethical. More to the point, it’s against Google policy.

Getting your practice in front of potential customers isn’t easy, but you don’t have to do it on your own. ProspectaMarketing is an Internet marketing firm specializing in helping dental practices reach their audience. We use the tools of Internet search marketing to reach key prospects looking for what your practice has to offer. Our unique and thorough approach provides visibility, financial accountability, and ongoing refinement and improvement. You can find out more by contacting Lane Anderson toll-free at 1-877-322-4440 Ext 101, by email using the form on our Contact Us page, or online at ProspectaMarketing.com.

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See the BrightLocal report

Online Reviews Impact Landing Page Conversions

It’s no secret we believe reviews have become an essential part of running a successful practice (read more in Online Reviews: Can Your Practice Afford to Ignore Them When Your Patients Are Not and Reviews, Online Reputation, and the Success of Your Practice), but what about including patient reviews on a landing page?

BrightLocal, which provides local search marketing tools for agencies, consultants, and local businesses, recently conducted a study to determine how online reviews impact landing page conversion. Their research shows that putting reviews on landing pages helps boost conversion by 12 percent. This isn’t a big surprise to us, and we have been encouraging our doctors to do this for some time.

Let’s take a look at the specifics of the study.

Reviews Continue to Be an Important Part of the Buying Process

In their 2016 Local Consumer Review Study, BrightLocal discovered the following statistics:

  • 74 percent of consumers say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
  • 84 percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations
  • 54 percent of people will visit a company’s website after reading positive reviews

BrightLocal wanted to take these facts a step further to find out if these reviews helped build trust and how promoting a firm’s reputation would impact landing page conversion.

The Latest Findings on Consumer Trust and Landing Page Conversions

For their experiment, BrightLocal divided their participants into two groups: a control group of 30 percent of the participants who were showed landing pages that had no ratings or reviews displayed, and test groups with the rest of the participants who were shown different landing pages, some with reviews and some without.

According to BrightLocal: “The panelists were asked to imagine they were searching online for a local plumber, florist or realtor. We showed the consumers two landing pages—one page that highlighted an actual customer’s review about the business and another page where the business said they were the ‘dependable’ company.

“For this research study, we tracked whether consumers picked the businesses with or without the customer review on the landing pages. Additionally, we asked consumers to give us feedback on a variety of other factors that impacted their decisions and opinions of these ‘sample’ businesses.”

landing page conversions

The results showed that 83 percent found the business with the consumer review on the landing page to be trustworthy. And 15 percent of survey participants felt the business without reviews was not trustworthy.

landing page conversions

When asked how likely they would be to contact the business with reviews, 74 percent of people said they would versus 62 percent of people who said they would contact the business with no reviews.

You can read BrightLocal’s full results here.

Questions About Using Patient Reviews on Your Website?

If you have questions about conversion rates or online reviews, contact us at
877-322-4440 Ext. 101.

 

Online Reviews: Can Your Practice Afford to Ignore Them When Your Patients Are Not?

The statistics are telling: 92% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses. The fact is, however, that even though far too many local businesses continue to ignore the importance of online reviews, their potential customers are not.

We wrote an article recently about how important it is for businesses to manage their online reputation which presented the results of a survey conducted by local search specialists at BrightLocal. Their survey results were revisited at the recent SMX West SEO and SEM Conference.

online reviews

SMX West and the Value of Online Reviews

Search Engine Land columnist Greg Gifford recapped a session from the expo by Thomas Ballantyne, who is director of marketing at a local business, about the value of online reviews.

There were several valuable takeaways from the article:

  • More than half of people looking for a local business trust content that has been generated by past customers over any information they can get from a company website or in a news article. Ballantyne explained that “people trust reviews written by other people much more than anything written on your website, which is why it’s so important for business owners to focus on their online reviews.”
  • Your brand’s message? It’s owned by your customers—or in the case of ProspectaMarketing readers, your patients.
  • Ballantyne points out that “reviews are the crossroads of social media and transactions.” Reviews aren’t going away—and businesses can’t afford to ignore them because their customers are not.
  • According to Ballantyne, getting great reviews is simple: “First, you’ve got to provide good customer service. You’ve got to hire people who will love your customers. Second, you just have to ask. If you ask customers to leave a review, most of them will do it—but most businesses never ask for reviews.”

Use Online Reviews to Your Practice’s Advantage

Are you doing all that you can with your online reputation? Are you asking your happy patients to leave reviews? We offer a tool that sends a review request directly to patients’ phones. It’s easy to use—for team members and patients!—and is highly effective in growing your online reviews.

If you need help managing your online reputation, contact us at 877-322-4440 Ext. 101.

 

10 Tips for Creating Impactful Patient Testimonials

Patient testimonials are a great addition to your website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel. People enjoy seeing other patients talk about their positive experiences with your practice. Reviews not only enhance your web presence and online reputation, but they can have huge impact on whether or not a patient decides to make an appointment with your practice.

Tips for Recording Patient Testimonials

patient testimonialsIf you are going to record a video of your patients, be sure that you are getting a great quality video. Here are some helpful tips:

  • Have correct lighting. Try to avoid a windowless room with just fluorescent lights and don’t have the light source directly behind or above your subject. Have your patient sit by a window with natural light to their side or in front of them.
  • Invest in a good microphone. A Lavalier microphone will ensure there is no echoing or other issues caused by bad sound.
  • Be sure the microphone can hear them. Don’t stand so far away that the microphone can’t pick up their voice. If you are interested, there are a variety of clip on microphones available that you can attach to the patients shirt and then plug the microphone adapter into your iPhone.
  • Make sure your patients are comfortable. Stuart Anderson, who creates professional video productions for the Crown Council, a prestigious group of dentists committed to continual improvement, recommends that they should be sitting or standing in a relaxed position that is conducive to a conversation.
  • Make eye contact. Anderson also recommends that subjects not look at the camera while they are speaking: “They are less likely to do so if you make good eye contact,” he says.
  • Note where you are placing your subject. Make sure there’s nothing odd in the background. That fern on your windowsill may look lovely, but make sure it doesn’t look like its growing out of your subject’s head.
  • Invest in a tripod. You don’t need to spend lots of money and rent a lot of video equipment, but make sure you have a tripod or a way to hold the camera very steady. If you are filming with an iPhone, always hold the camera horizontally. This will result in much better looking videos when you upload them and watch them on computer screens and TVs.
  • Don’t use zoom. Instead of zooming, physically move the camera forward. If filming with your phone, using zoom will work but will reduce the quality of the video.
  • Try Q & A style interview. You can email your patient the questions beforehand so they have their answers in mind. Then when you film them, have someone off camera ask them the questions and have them respond to the interviewer that is off camera. This way you can get concise direct answers instead of a stream of consciousness that sometimes happens when people are being filmed.
  • Have patients sign a consent form. Before using any patient testimonials online, you must have them sign a consent form giving their permission for you to do so.

You don’t need to spend a lot of money to get great patient testimonials. It only takes a few minutes of a patient’s time and can really help to improve the quality of your online presence.

Questions About Patient Testimonials?

If you have questions about getting patient testimonials for your own practice, contact us at
877-322-4440 Ext. 101.

Reviews, Online Reputation, and the Success of Your Practice

Anyone running a small- or medium-sized business is aware that their online reputation is becoming more and more important if they are to be successful. In spite of this, however, business owners are not always paying enough attention to their online reviews. They may not realize that online reviews can have a huge impact on whether or not a customer decides to purchase a product or service.

For the past six years, the local search specialists at BrightLocal have conducted a survey on online reviews to help small- to medium-sized businesses and digital marketing agencies understand how they influence purchasing decisions.

The results make it clear that online reputation needs to be taken seriously by all business owners, and that includes those running a dental or medical practice.

Reviews, Online Reputation, and the Success of Your PracticeWhat the Online Survey Research Results Found

BrightLocal’s survey explored just how consumers read and use online reviews, and whether or not the reviews influenced their buying decisions.

In a nutshell, the results showed:
• 84 percent of survey participants trust online reviews just as much as a personal recommendation
• 90 percent of consumers read fewer than 10 reviews before they form an opinion about a business
• 74 percent of those surveyed say that positive reviews make them trust a local business more
• 73 percent of consumers report that reviews that are three months or older are not as important as more current reviews
• 54 percent of those surveyed say that after reading positive reviews, their next step is to visit the business’s website

According to the survey, the most commonly read reviews by consumers are for the following categories restaurants and hotels and bed and breakfasts, with medical/healthcare professionals coming in third place.

Reviews, Online Reputation, and the Success of Your Practice

What the Online Survey Research Results Mean for Your Practice

The number of consumers using the Internet to find local businesses continues to increase.

BrightLocal’s take on the reasons for the growth is simple: “Over the past few years, many local businesses have realized the importance of optimizing their online presence for the local market by claiming their Google My Business or Bing Places for Business pages, creating location-specific pages on their website, adding Google Maps to their site and other local SEO strategies.

“Additionally, Google shows online reviews in many search engine results pages, and they even recently started adding third-party review sites and reviews to a business’s Knowledge Panel.”

The bottom line? Reviews are everywhere. And your potential customers are reading them. But rather than fear them, you should see them as an opportunity to engage and receive feedback about your practice.

Why Your Practice Needs an Online Reputation Strategy

For your practice’s continued success, you must monitor what patients are saying in online reviews. You should also have a way to get positive reviews from happy patients.

Why? Because potential patients will read the most recent reviews first; if those reviews are negative, they may not read past them to get to the positive reviews—even if there are more positive than negative. New positive reviews will push the negative reviews down the list.

Reviews, Online Reputation, and the Success of Your Practice

It should be noted here that reviews for dental and medical practices tend to have a longer shelf life than, for instance, restaurants; this is probably because people visit restaurants and other businesses on a more frequent basis. That said, however, it is still critical to have a steady flow of new reviews as an ongoing part of running a successful practice.

How are you handling your reviews? Are you asking happy patients to leave reviews after they visit your practice? According to BrightLocal, seven out of 10 consumers will leave a review for a business—if they’re asked to do so.

Find Out More About This Year’s Survey

Do you want to see even more questions and answers, as well as a deeper analysis of the results of this year’s survey? You can read the full 2016 Local Consumer Review Survey here.

Questions? Need Help Managing Your Online Reputation?

If you have questions about the survey or would like help managing your own online reputation, contact us at
877-322-4440 Ext. 101.

Do You Have A Five Star Practice?

Think your practice’s online reviews don’t matter? Think again.

While you may think that having a fully optimized website is where to put your focus (and we agree!) don’t underestimate the power of online reviews. In the past couple of years, people have grown heavily reliant on online reviews for everything from hair salons to restaurants to mechanics. Searching for a dentist isn’t any different. As humans, we want to know we’re getting the best service possible. A recent Bright Local SEO survey showed that nearly 90% of online customers trust anonymous reviews almost as much as a personal recommendation. Your reviews matter.

Get 5 Star Reviews For Your PracticeWe have a client who had an optimized profile but no reviews on Google+. We challenged them to ask some patients to leave reviews. Their front desk team rose to the challenge and were able to get a handful of patients to write reviews. In no time, the number of their prospective patients grew because, as residents of a smaller town, this practice was now the only 5-star practice in town.

We know you are offering excellent care and service to your patients. Make sure that is reflected in what people are saying about you online. If reviews aren’t something you’ve made an effort to curate, now is the time to start to ask the simple question “Would you be willing to share your experience today with other patients who haven’t visited our practice yet?” It’s a simple way to make sure that the service and care you’re providing in office is reflected online. Have questions on how to get started? Contact ProspectaMarketing and learn more.

How To React To Negative Reviews Online

The importance of having a strong online presence is increasing as reviews on local listing sites such as Google Maps, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and Yelp are becoming more of a factor for ranking your business. We all want our business to have five star reviews across the board, but what should you do if you receive a negative review? Step one: take a deep breath.

Negative reviews are an unfortunate reality of any customer service industry. But they don’t always mean the downfall of your company. Here are some ways to react if you receive a negative review:

  • Try to resolve the issue with the reviewer directly. If you recognize the patient from their comments and why they may have reacted this way, try to contact them to see if you can address their concerns and come to a resolution. If they are satisfied, ask them if they could remove the negative feedback.
  • If a resolution cannot be met, it’s a good idea to respond publicly to the review as the business owner on the site. The customer may not be happy, but you will be able to present yourself as professional and responsive to feedback by explaining what happened and how you will rectify the situation in the future. Is the reviewer’s complaint legitimate? Take a moment to see if you can enact a change in your office that will be an overall improvement in the service you provide for future patients.
  • Use the public reply as an opportunity spin the negative into a positive and explain something about the practice that wouldn’t be known otherwise. For instance, do you offer a 100% patient satisfaction guarantee or their money back? Mention this.
  • Finally, and most importantly, bury the negative with positive reviews. There are a number of ways to encourage your patients to leave reviews. Whether it is through an e-mail request with a link to your review page, a QR code poster that lets them leave a review from their cell phone or having a device in the practice office that lets them leave immediate feedback, reviews are a vital part of improving your local listing search rankings.

So next time you get a negative review- stay calm. This is a chance to improve your service and turn a person who had a negative experience into another satisfied customer.

Google Places 3rd Party Reviews Disappear

The news from Google that they will not post 3rd party reviews (only links to them) has created concern for many dental practices that rely on local internet marketing. For some time now, we have always recommended having patient reviews directly in the search engines as well as using third party review sites.  Now that these third party reviews have disappeared from Google Places (other than to have a link to them), it is important to have a strategy to get reviews posted directly in Google.  During the past few weeks, we have discussed a variety of approaches with dental practices.  Here are some strategies to consider.

• Some patient reminder systems for dental practices such as SmileReminder and DemandForce can automatically invite your patients to go into the search engines and write reviews after an office visit.  This is a great way to keep a steady flow of reviews coming into the search engines, but there is a monthly cost.

• Send your own e-mails out to your patients with a link to your local listing. We can help you format an e-mail with links directly to your local listings where they can write a review.  Give them some help with instructions.  Contact us if you would like to some help formatting these e-mails.

• Use QR codes to help direct patients to your local listings using their smart phones.   It will make it easy for them to find you, and they can use their smart phone to write a review and share their experience with others.

• Consider a simple reminder such as a business card with the address of your local listing on it that your patients can take home with them.  Make is convenient.

Reviews are gaining more and more attention from consumers, and it is important to pay attention to this area of your marketing.

20 Ways to Win with Internet Dental Marketing

We just returned from the Crown Council Annual Event in San Antonio. What a great group of Eagles who flock together in this organization to learn from each other, improve their practices and give back. It was a great opportunity to spend a few days with those who attended.

On Saturday afternoon, I presented a workshop on “20 Ways to Win with Internet Marketing”.  The internet has become a critical source of new patient traffic, but doing it right makes all the difference. If you did not have a chance to attend, here is a list that we shared with those who were there, broken into three areas:

Strategy Development
1.  Effective Targeting
2.  Proper Messaging
3.  Consistent Branding
4.  Channel Strategies
5.   Results Analysis

Driving Traffic
6.  Meaningful SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
7.   Targeted Paid Advertising (PPC)
8.   Hard-Working Domain Name(s)
9.   Informative Website Content
10. Purposeful Blogging
11.  Optimized Video
12. Newsworthy Press Releases
13. Developed Social Sites
14. Enhanced Local Listings
15. Online Testimonials
16. Targeted Micro-Sites

Converting Prospects
17. Enticing Promotions
18. Innovative Phone Tool
19. Immediate Click to Call
20. Convenient Lead Form

Bonus

• Follow-up

• Continual Tracking to Learn What is Working

There was much more in our discussion.  However, in considering ways to reach and convert key prospects as part of your internet dental marketing, this is a good starting list of things that will help you achieve success.

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