Online reviews continue to play a larger role in mobile marketing and local search. BrightLocal just released the findings from their 2014 Local Consumer Review survey and found that nine out of ten consumers read online reviews when making a purchasing decision or deciding which business to call. These numbers have continued to climb year over year, and 88 percent of consumers now say that they trust an online review as much as an in person word of mouth referral. This is both exciting and alarming. If you have focused on getting real consumer reviews, you are likely getting more organic traffic from it. If your practice is sitting with no reviews, you could be losing business.

In 2011, 29 percent of consumers did not read online reviews before deciding which business to work with. In 2014, that dropped to only 12 percent. The trends clearly indicate that online reviews are becoming more and more important and have a direct impact on the effectiveness of your local search marketing efforts. It is important to note that your online reviews need to be location based since that is how someone tells that you are a provider in their area.

The BrightLocal survey also asked how many online reviews people read before they decide that they can trust a business. The vast majority, 85 percent, of respondents said that they read up to ten reviews before deciding if they can trust a business. Additionally, the number of consumers that read over twenty reviews has increased from 2 percent to 7 percent in only one year. By evaluating the trends, it is clear that the more reviews you have – the better.

How to Start Getting More Online Reviews

If you do not have any online reviews, you need to start. You should have a profile on Yelp and a local business listing page with Google that ties into your Google+ profile, at minimum. Once these are established you need to actively ask your patients to give you a review. Place a link in email reminders for appointments, on your social media page, and website in addition to asking for a review in person. The more you ask, and the easier you make it to get to the review site, the better. It is important to keep the reviews fresh and up-to-date. People read the most recent reviews first so check them on a regular basis to make sure that you don’t have any negative ones at the top. If you do, address them professionally then ask for more good reviews from patients you have a good relationship with. Your goal should be to have a minimum of ten reviews in order to satisfy the 85 percent of consumers that want to read them. These reviews need to be authentic, from real patients, and sound legitimate. People are getting very good at telling the difference between a fake and real review.

Once your reviews are live, they will start to make a direct impact on your local search results. Google will often display Yelp reviews in the search results for a provider or business in the local area, and if you are one of the reviewed businesses, you will get additional exposure. This also impacts mobile marketing since many consumers will read the reviews that show up with their local search results both through a search engine and on Google maps. The key is to get started and to stay on top of your referrals to make sure they have a positive impact on growing your practice.