online reviews affect local seo

How Online Reviews Affect Your Clinic’s Local Search Ranking

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You may be asking yourself, “What’s the huge fuss about online reviews?” Online reviews may not seem like a big deal, but boy, you are definitely wrong. The feedback that you get from your customers impacts your online reputation and has a major influence on their decisions. In our previous blog post, The Power of Online Reviews, we mentioned that customers read an average of six reviews before making a decision. Therefore, as a medical practice, if you only have one or none at all, then potential patients may not even consider your practice. To top it all off, online reviews also happen to play an increasingly important role in local search as well.

How Online Reviews Affect Local SEO

One of the top factors that influence where and how your practice appears in local search results are online reviews.

According to a local SEO report conducted by Moz, the number of reviews that your practice has, the speed of each review that is generated, your numerical ratings, the diversity of sites where you have reviews, and even the people who are authorized to write your reviews are all ranking factors across local search results.

There are local search ranking factors that play a major role in local search rankings:

  • Distance: Referred to as the proximity of your business listing’s indicated location and/or service area on Google to the location term used in a Google search query.
  • Prominence: Refers to the offline and online reputation of your medical practice. Online prominence, meanwhile, is based on the information available on the web about your practice. This includes the quantity and quality of your online reviews, as well as online scores and ratings.
  • Relevance: Refers to how well your business listing or your branded content matches what people are searching for on the Internet. Complete, detailed, and updated information of your practice improve your relevance to relevant local searches.
  • Proximity: How far is the patient from your practice or registered address on Google Maps? This plays a significant factor in where you rank.
  • Reviews: Reviews send a strong signal to Google that you are a real, qualified doctor. You should have a consistent strategy to get more Google reviews.
  • Citations and Consistency: Always provide the right address and information. The last thing Google wants you to do is to provide the wrong details.
  • Domain Authority: Domain trust matters, remember that.
  • Google My Business Category: Selecting the proper category or categories that reflect your services. Make sure to categorize them properly.
  • Keywords in Business Title:  Although you may see other medical practices using false names that can lead you to the spam folder, it is only a matter of time until Google cleans up the local search rankings. Consider a keyword in your domain name, especially if it works with your practice.

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It’s not enough that you get reviews, it’s also important to respond to reviews. Why? How does responding to Google Reviews help local SEO? What is the importance of responding to these reviews, anyway?

Well, considering that 88% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, then you should know that reviews have a greater impact on the success of a medical practice more than you can ever realize.

In 2018, Darren Shaw of Whitespark conducted research and found out from his annual Google Local Rankings Survey that there are eight local search rankings factors:

  • 3% Social Signals: Google engagement, Facebook engagement, Twitter engagement
  • 6% Personalization: Keywords, Search Histories
  • 10% Behavioral Signals: Mobile clicks to call, Check-ins, Click through rate
  • 11% Citation Signals: Citation volume, NAP consistency
  • 14% On-Page Signals: Domain authority, Keywords in titles
  • 15% Review Signals: Review diversity, Review quantity, Review velocity
  • 16% Link Signals: Linking domain quantity and authority
  • 25% GMB Signals: Categories, Proximity, Keyword in business titles


Reviews have a greater impact on the success of medical practice. Click To Tweet


Why You Should Respond To Online Reviews

respond to reviews

You get to build trust between you and your patients if you respond to their reviews. Whether you receive a positive or negative review, it’s important to respond to that review in an effort to show your patients that you care for their well-being.  I’m sure you’ve spent a great deal of time and effort attracting new patients, and retaining your existing ones is just as important. By not responding to reviews, you run the risk of increasing your customer churn by 15%.

Online reviews should never be seen as a one-way flow of information. As a medical practice, you need to be interacting and engaging with your patients as often as you can. You can create positive results by responding to negative reviews. Statistics show that of the patients who received a response from their practitioner after posting a negative comment, 33 percent turned the tide around and posted a positive review, while 34 percent deleted the original negative review.

So, how can Google Reviews help doctors, such as yourself, improve their Google ranking? Google uses a multi-faceted algorithm to rank healthcare search results. Google will include a variety of factors which includes the physical address of your clinic, the consistency of citations all over the web, the domain authority of the website, and Google reviews.

Google’s main goal is to give users the best search results possible. Google reviews help Google show that one practice is better than another. Reviews help patents to make better healthcare decisions. The more quality reviews you have, the better your local SEO.

The more quality reviews you have, the better your local SEO. Click To Tweet

A Few Tips To Encourage Patients To Write Reviews

Asking for reviews from patients can be a little tricky. You have to be very careful and follow specific guidelines so your reviews will not get removed from Google. We have outlined a few tips that can help you convince patients to write reviews.

Encourage Patients To Write ReviewsAsk Patients After Their Appointment – After a successful appointment, you can politely ask your patient to write a review about their experience during their appointment. Most patients who had a great experience would usually be thrilled to leave a review for the doctor. You can even hand out instructions on how to leave a review on Google.

Ask Patients Via Email Newsletter or Phone Call – The good thing about sending out an email newsletter is that you get to send out the direct link to the page, along with some instructions (if necessary) to make the process of writing a review easier for them. You could also hire people to call your patients on your behalf and politely ask them to write a review for you. Now, people would appreciate it if you create a good relationship with them and you could do this by calling your patients one-by-one to make it more meaningful.

Never Offer Incentives – Yes, it may sound enticing and patients might be more motivated to write a review for you (a good one at that) if you offer discounts or gifts. However, you must know that this is against a lot of review site guidelines. By doing this, you are making the patient write a biased review.  Your reviews can be permanently removed, even your profile will be removed if you apply this strategy.

Always Respond To Reviews, Especially Negative Ones – I know, it’s such a bummer to receive a negative review. But hey, you don’t actually have to dwell on it that much. You can use negative reviews to improve your clinic instead of just solely dwelling on the negative aspects of the reviews. Negative reviews help you evaluate what your clinic needs to improve so that your patients will have a better experience next time. By responding to negative reviews, you’re making the patients feel that you value their input and that you will do everything that you can to provide better services to them. It can also help prevent your patient from leaving and choosing a different doctor.


Negative reviews help you evaluate what your clinic needs to improve so that your patients will have a better experience next time. Click To Tweet


Reviews from happy, satisfied patients allow other patients who are looking for doctors to learn more about your practice. It can also increase your position in the search results. I understand that it’s going to be an additional job for your staff but what if you hire a remote staff who can call your patients for you? Your staff would appreciate that the extra work wouldn’t be handed onto them. Plus, you don’t need to hire another person inside your office. That will just take more precious office space and increase overhead expenses.

At Website4MD, we can help you with your online reputation through our Google Reviews service. We’ll do the job for you! Schedule an appointment today and how we can help you be one of the best in your field.