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.
What 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.
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.
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.