Google Places offers fantastic exposure to your practice for a number of reasons. At the forefront is having your practice show up high on local search results accompanied by reviews from your patients. In our article, MD Reviews – Now Tracking Google Places, we were pleased to let you know tracking those reviews is now available here at Digital Solutions.
Users of Google Places do need to be aware that there have been some changes to Places over the last few months, including one major change in how reviews are listed. In the past, 3rd party reviews such as Yelp, Local.com, and CitySearch appeared along with reviews made by your clients directly through Google. That is no longer the case!
The only reviews now appearing on your Google Places listing are those made by people directly through Google. This means you need to make an even greater effort to encourage patients to write reviews for your Google Places link. This does not mean you should panic because:
The Change Affects Every Plastic Surgery Practice
This means the number of reviews you have should remain the same compared to your competitors. As far as rankings go, it is the quantity of reviews you have compared to others in your category and location that matters. If you notice a local competitor rising quickly in the rankings, it is probably because they have made an effort to have more patients leave reviews at Google Places
Reviews on 3rd Party Sites Still Impact Page Rankings
Reviews about your practice on numerous sites still heavily influence your page rankings. Don’t expect huge drops in rankings as a result of this change. Remember however, the number of rankings made directly to Google matters more now because those are the only ones seen through Google Places.
Those Other Review Listings Still Matter
. . . and not only because of page rankings. It never has been a good idea to put all your eggs in one basket. Good SEO companies understand this and will devise strategies for your business that ensure you rank well online regardless of what search engine or website appears to be getting the most traffic currently. Yahoo was far more important five years ago than it is today. If every practice had poured all their efforts into Yahoo alone, it would not have paid off in the long term.
In our article, The Art of Getting Good Reviews, we listed three ways to develop a consistent stream of positive reviews. With 3rd party reviews out of the picture, it is important to apply these directly to enlisting reviews from patients to Google Places.
1. Ask – It sounds too simple but it works. Don’t short circuit the process by asking newer clients to give you a good review. Instead, wait until a relationship has built up with a client over time and then ask if they would consider writing a brief review. Let them know you value them as a client and take their opinion seriously.
2. Make it Known – Have a link that points to your Google Places page where clients can leave a review. Younger clients are the most likely to be turned off by asking for a review. This is where a Facebook business page and Twitter come into play. The social media generation is already acclimated to expressing itself online.
3. Respond to Every Review – This means having a regular process of reading every review you can find. When it’s a good review, thank the client. When it’s bad, thank the client. Most professionals find the best way to deal with a negative review is NOT online. Instead, contact the reviewer personally and see what can be done to repair the relationship. Many clients dealt with this way often will go back and leave a positive review as a result.