Having good online visibility is a powerful tool for your dental practice. A 2022 survey found that in 2021, 81% of people used Google to evaluate local businesses, up from 63% in 2020. And the importance of being easily findable online will only increase. Even though the dental industry is experiencing a staffing shortage, research from the ADA’s Health Policy Institute found that “Total inflows to the dentist workforce are expected to exceed total outflows, and this net gain is expected to outpace the projected growth of the U.S. population [by 2040].”
One of the ways your dental practice can improve online visibility is by curating your online reputation through positive dental reviews. There’s just one problem: even though 91% of people read online reviews, a tiny percentage leave reviews. So how do you get Google dental reviews? We advocate using a targeted reputation-building strategy that combines automation and patient outreach. In doing so, your dental practice can boost its online presence without drawing on limited resources. Now that’s a win!
✅ Automate Dental Review Requests
Reviews are “social proof”—a “psychological and social phenomenon in which people copy the actions of others to reflect what is considered “correct” behavior.” Patients who see that other people went to your dental practice—and loved it—will want to follow in their footsteps. And from a technical perspective, when Google sees that your business has lots of positive dental reviews, that signals that your practice is trustworthy and credible, making it more likely the search engine will bump you up in rankings.
In 2018, SEO company Moz reported that the frequency, quantity, and diversity of reviews rank among the top three factors influencing whether a dental practice will make it into the Google local pack (see sidebar). Reviews also rank among the top 8 factors that affect how a business ranks on organic search.
What Is Google Local Pack?
Think about the last time you Googled a business, such as a restaurant or a hotel. Likely, a map popped up on the top of the first page of results with companies marked; this is the local pack. Being on that list shows potential patients you’re close by and highly ranked, as having positive reviews helps you rank on the local pack. Other essential factors include ensuring that all your business information is current, including address(es), phone numbers, and online scheduling links so patients can reach out and book immediately. For more information on optimizing for Google local pack, check out this resource.
Some dentists train their front office to ask patients to review the practice at check out. While that is certainly an option, most practices are so busy that adding one more administrative “to-do” isn’t viable. Instead, dental offices can use an automated online reputation management software to send requests for Google dental reviews. With YAPI, for instance, team members can send a text to patients when they check out, prompting them to leave a review on Google, Yelp!, or another site of choice. Patients then click on a link in the text that takes them directly to the review platform.
Office managers could also incentivize the front office team to send automated review requests. For instance, you might create a contest where whoever sends the most review texts at the end of each month or quarter gets a gift certificate or a cash prize.
✅ Respond to Positive and Negative Reviews
Online reputation management is about more than curating a robust collection of positive reviews. When patients take the time to leave a review, whether good or bad, dental office teams should make time to respond. This outreach humanizes your practice and shows that you care about your patients and their experiences.
For positive reviews, there are a couple of ways you can reply, including:
- Say ‘thank you’ to the person who left the review. Keep it short and sweet, such as “Hi Alex, Thank you for your kind review. We look forward to seeing you on your next visit!”
- Give a compliment. It’s always nice to return a compliment with a compliment! If your patient said something about how kind or efficient your team is, you might respond, “It’s easy to be kind when your patients are the best! We can’t wait to see you again in our office.”
Of course, whatever your response, make sure it’s HIPAA compliant!
Using an automated review request system also gives you the chance to see and respond to negative reviews before they post on Google or elsewhere. This way, you can reach out to the patient privately (and quickly) to hear them out and address their concerns. However, if a negative review does go public before your review, or the patient doesn’t respond to you privately, be sure to respond to their feedback within 24 hours. Keep your response short and simple, and make it clear you want to hear their comments.
Being visible online and having a collection of positive dental reviews places you at the top of a patient’s call list for their next appointment.