It’s no secret that having a lot of positive reviews on Google can be good for SEO rankings, but new information suggests that there’s much more to that. In fact, positive online reviews are often cited as the most important factor for consumers when looking for a business or product. We also know that Google is the largest website for ranking and reviews, because of the total volume they’re able to gather. So what happens when the world’s largest online search engine controls the world’s most robust review machine? We can quickly deduce that the two must be correlated. For years, we’ve thought that it was the number of reviews that had the biggest impact on your search engine rankings, especially on Google Maps. Google is literally showing you that the terms you search are connected to your website when showing your business on Google Maps!
Google is going all-in on local-focused features in Google My Business, and this will certainly affect your SEO ranking. Did you know that the second biggest factor for determining where a local business shows up in map searches is reviews that contain specific keywords? All this time, veterinary hospitals have been so worried about simply getting positive reviews, now we need to focus on the copy that reviewers are using in their reviews. Madness, right?
New research shows that your business is more likely to show up in this “local pack” (the top businesses featured in Google search rankings) if it has reviews that mention:
- Keywords you’re trying to rank for
- The city/neighborhood that your business is located in
While you cannot incentivize clients to leave you reviews, or tell them what to say, you may want to try to steer them in the right direction when leaving you a review.
46% of all Google searches are local.
In 2020, Google updated its ranking factors for local SEO and reviews and an optimized Google My Business platform (where reviews live) is at the top of the list.
- Google My Business elements being completely up to date. This includes keywords in the business name ([City name] Veterinary Hospital), the category (hospital names with veterinary clinic or animal hospital in the title), and other relevant keywords on the listing. If you’re sitting there with a funky-named veterinary hospital that does not include the word veterinary, don’t stress. You’ll be fine with the right website company and SEO.
- Google reviews! We keep saying this, and it’s essential! We wrote a blog titled How To Get More Google Reviews in 2020. Did you read it? Is it working? Let us help! Google looks at your number of reviews, the overall sentiment, and whether the business has responded. Good thing WhiskerCloud has a reputation management team, huh?
- The proximity of the searcher to the place of business, which has typically been at the top of the list. In the past, when someone searched for a “vet near me,” Google was likely to show you the literal closest vet near you. Now, they are looking at other factors like naming conventions and reviews before proximity. While odd, this may be a good thing for your clinic. You cannot control the searcher’s vicinity, but you can control your online listing (we manage this for our clients!) and the reviews you’re getting.
- Your physical address in the city of the search. It’s true; Google does want your business to be located in the town that people are searching for a “vet near me.” To our friends in the suburbs or small cities next to a big city, don’t get caught up going after being the top “San Franciso veterinarian” or the top “Chicago veterinarian.” Embrace your location and make sure that you go after keywords for the people in your zip code and surrounding areas. You can still work to make sure you’re the top “Palo Alto veterinarian” and not waste your time competing for San Francisco keywords.
- The final most important factor for local SEO rankings is the consistency of your citations. Making sure that your online listings, website, social media channels, and anything else related to your business are consistent and correct. Make sure the name of your business is consistent across the board, too!
Why does this all matter?
We know that reviews are the number one factor that consumers use to find a new product or service. We know that reviews are tied to Google search engine rankings and your website. We also know that reviews are tied to your Google My Business page, which is tied to your website, and so on. So what’s the end goal here? Provide incredible customer service, ask for reviews, and continue to respond and build your online presence. As reviews roll in, we’ll cross our fingers that they use the correct keywords to help you rank higher!
You can also read our complete guide to online reviews by clicking here. Do you solicit reviews in your hospital now? What works best for you? Let us know in the comments section below!