Online reviews are source of joy and indeed, a source of anxiety, for local businesses. In recent years, search engines have been the starting point for consumer experiences. Keyword searches provide inquisitive consumers about local businesses in their area and also, without a doubt, reviews of the business or medical practice based on previous consumer/patient experiences.
Here, we take a look at the importance of online reviews for your local business. First, we’ll hear a first-hand narrative from a consumer that relies on online reviews for local business and medical practice recommendations, and then we’ll discuss the technical side of online reviews and your audiology practice’s SEO strategies.
An Interview with Jessica C, in San Francisco on the Utility of Online Reviews
Jessica moved to the Bay Area in October 2017 after living on the East Coast and overseas. New to the Bay and California, she has relied heavily on online reviews to both understand her new home and learn about the best local businesses for her needs. Below is Jessica’s account:
“Recently moving to a new city, without knowing anyone or the city itself, it has been a challenge to know what is good, what is mediocre, and what I should completely avoid. Online reviews have been a helpful source not only to figure out what is in my neighborhood, but to really figure out good quality neighborhood locations for food, goods, entertainment, and healthcare providers.
As a sandwich lover, I’ve been craving a delicious Italian sandwich with healthy amounts of meat and soft Italian bread. Looking to the online reviews, I’ve been able to find similar flavors that I’m used to, thanks to everyone else’s aggregated experiences.
Having had back surgery before moving to this city, I had to find a good acupuncturist and chiropractor. When it comes to specialty practice, it is good to read about other patient experiences. I want to know what it is like to schedule an appointment, how long an average wait time is, what the feeling is when you walk in – and all of that is described in the review. It provides a sense of context and knowledge before walking into the space. It provides an extra level of assurance.
I think negativity is always a part of reviews. Disgruntled customers will always write bad reviews of a place. For the most part, I take the negativity with a grain of salt because no business is 100% all of the time, but it is useful to know the extremes.
Like a sandwich spot – where there is a complicated ordering system and then you go pay for it – the online reviews help me feel local, even though I am new to the city. I also have started to read online reviews because it brings out the culture, tone, and flavor of the city.”
Online Reviews & How They Affect Your Audiology Practice’s SEO Strategy
Jessica is just one consumer in one city, but we can see from her account how clearly online reviews are used. She indicates that online reviews not only give her important information about the quality of the business, but also the ins-and-outs of navigating scheduling systems, how to find specialists, and even the feeling of walking through the door of a practice. As such, we can think of reviews in the same way we think of search engine results – the threshold to your audiology/hearing practice’s office.
In particular, Google My Business provides local reviews by consumers and patients, as well as maps to the location. Yelp, another popular review site, provides comprehensive reviews and ratings, along with a map. The difference is that many people use Google as a jumping point into a GPS navigation – so if someone is looking for your business, it is of particular importance that your business ranks well on Google.
It is important to keep in mind that the volume of reviews and the sentiment expressed in the reviews are both factors in whether you show up on Google Business. If there are scant reviews, or indeed, very poor reviews, it is unlikely that Google’s search engine algorithm will position a business as a top search. Although Jessica does indicate that in her experience, she takes many negative reviews with a grain of salt, the same is not the case for Google’s search engine crawling.
How does your business rank on Google My Business? What is the volume and content of the reviews provided online for your audiology practice? To take a comprehensive look at your practice’s online rankings and patient reviews and testimonials, talk to us at Increase Marketing. We provide reputation management services that feed into your practice’s visibility and success.