By Zach Zavoral
Chiropractors go gaga over online patient reviews like 13-year-old girls with Bieber tickets. But why? Is it because they impact prospective patients’ decision-making?
Or because online reviews are hot, and we’re told to worship them like hipsters worship the latest iWhatever?
Online patient reviews can be the determining factor in a prospective patient’s decision, but only with a correct understanding of how patient reviews affect a chiropractor’s local search rankings, and where patient reviews stand in the decision-making process of prospective patients.
The general belief among chiropractors is:
“When prospective patients search for a local chiropractor, my patient reviews will persuade them to choose my practice.”
Within that statement are a couple major incorrect assumptions that I’d like to dispel.
“When prospective patients search … my patient reviews will …”
That’s assuming your practice will appear on the first page in local search results, and that your reviews are part of those results. Patient reviews only carry substantial weight in the Google ranking algorithm if they’re from reputable review sites recognized for truthfulness and value in the decision-making process. Those review sites include Google Places, Yelp, and Angie’s List.
Hundreds of Solutionreach or Demandforce reviews won’t immediately raise a chiropractor’s Google ranking. They used to, but with the latest Google updates, they no longer carry any weight.
On a “Local Search” forum this week, Linda Buquet, a Local Search Specialist and former Demandforce consultant, noted that Demandforce reviews don’t carry the Google weight they once did. Buquet wrote that when Google searching for dentists in San Francisco, “Cynthia K. Brattesani, with over 1300 DF reviews, always used to be #1 and now she’s (third). All of the other SF Dentists (on page 1) used to have over 100 and some 300 DF reviews. Now just a couple have 100+, but a couple have 0 DF reviews and only 1 Google review.”
The point is:
Prospective patients won’t see your reviews unless your practice and reviews appear among the top in local search results. To get your reviews near the top, elicit patients to review you on Google and Yelp.
“… Patient reviews will persuade them to choose my practice.”
That’s definitely true, but only after the prospective patient has completed a few steps in their decision-making process.
When a prospective patient Googles “local chiropractor,” they’re not necessarily searching for reviews, yet. They’re simply searching to know their options.
“I need a chiropractor; Google shows me that I am near five.”
Then, after seeing their options, they internally weigh what they’ve heard from trusted sources, like friends and family. They’ll even ask their Facebook friends for advice.
“Jenny said never to go to Dr. A. My mom said Dr. C was the best, but then again, my mom still has back pain.”
After finding their options and adding mental notes from trusted, known sources, only then will the prospective patients consider online reviews.
Which reviews will they read?
The ones right in front of them when they searched: Google’s.
Secure a positive social reputation and your online reputation will soar.
Are online patient reviews really that valuable? The answer is: Only if you make them valuable by improving your Google ranking and filling your Google Places page with legitimate reviews from patients.