Search Engine Optimization is one of the best ways to target customers from your geographic location when marketing your business online. When you invest in local SEO, it means your business will be seen more by local people and not just people in random cities across the globe. This makes it possible to reach the right target population for your business.
One of the best strategies for local SEO is having the right plan in place for online reviews.
An online review is simply a comment left by your customers describing the services they received, thanking you for serving them or even registering a complaint.
So how do these reviews impact your SEO rankings?
Google, Yahoo and Bing are designed to show authentic and trustworthy content. Reviews are essentially a conversation about your business and communicate your business’s authority and trustworthiness to potential customers. It’s pretty simple: If your website offers nothing, then no one will talk about it.
According to a study by the Local SEO Guide, online reviews were the second most important factor for local business websites appearing in the “local pack” in 2017. Yotpo also found that online reviews have had a significant effect on search engine rankings not just for local businesses, but also for those purely online entities with no physical location.
This is a testimony to the importance of having online reviews as a SEO strategy for your assisted living business. For instance, Amazon’s best sales drivers are based on reading what others experience about a specific product.
Other than SEO rankings, reviews have a profound impact on your assisted living business. Leaving a home you have known for years to move into an assisted living facility is a very emotional affair. For this reason, the person relocating will need a lot of reassurance in order to be able to confidently make the decision to move. This is where online reviews come in. Bright Local found that about 88% of online consumers trust online reviews.
In another survey for local businesses, Bright Local found that 90% of consumers use online reviews to decide whether or not to purchase from a local business. When considering the use of reviews among people seeking assisted living facilities, Software Advice found that about 82% of people who have used or have recently sought out assisted living facility services used online reviews at some point to make their decision. Of those who said they used online reviews:
- 42% used the reviews as a fast step in identifying potential facilities
- 30% used online reviews to narrow down their options
- 28% used the reviews to validate their pick.
Benefits of Online Reviews
Online reviews offer immense benefits for your assisted living business. For starters, they help build trust with potential customers; when individuals and their family members read what others say about the services you offer, they develop trust. Without trust, no one will consider your business.
Some of the benefits you stand to gain from online reviews include:
Improved Local SEO Ranking
It is an open secret that Google loves online reviews. Moz’s local SEO ranking factors for 2017 found that reviews constitute about 7%-13% of the SEO ranking factors. In fact, reviews contributed 7% to organic rankings and about 13% to local pack rankings. This simply means that establishing a channel where customers can leave comments online could boost the ranking of your website a few spots up on search engines.
Build Trust with your Customers
Trust is the number one key ingredient for the success of assisted living businesses. When individuals can no longer live in their own homes due to old age or as a result of a chronic illness, it is understandable that they want to live in a place with people they trust. It is human nature. That’s what I would do, that’s what you would do and that’s exactly what everyone else would do.
This is why many people will consult widely before settling on an assisted living facility. For most people, the research for their perfect assisted living place begins online. They want to find such places within their area, find out about what they offer, who the people behind those facilities are and, most importantly, find out what others are saying about each one of those facilities.
About 97% of local business consumers used online reviews in 2017. This is the exact target audience that you want to reach with your assisted living business’s online marketing. The same study showed that 68% of consumers in the United States said that they were influenced to make a purchase by positive reviews while 40% were influenced by negative reviews not to make a purchase.
What does this say about your online review strategy?
You need to offer the best services so that you can get more positive reviews. Remember, a fake review can be easily spotted by customers and will not help your case.
Earn Google Organic Stars
Google organic stars play an important role in marketing local businesses.
According to Conversionxl, Google review stars increase the click-through rate (CTR) of listed pages by about 35%. This means that the more stars you have, the more site visitors you will have. The review stars you see on Google Maps root from customer reviews left on your Google My Business Page.
If you solicit customer reviews on your website, you can mark them up using schema. This is only way you can display review stars on your Organic Listing located below the maps listing on the Search Engine Results Page.
The Best Sites for Getting Online Reviews
Different local businesses use different platforms to get online reviews. According to Software Advice, Google My Business is the most popular platform for online reviews of assisted living businesses. Other popular sources of online reviews for assisted living businesses include Yelp, Senior Advisor, and Caring.com.
Google My Business
Google My Business was first launched as Google+ Local, which was later rebranded as Google Places before finally changing its name to Google My Business in 2014. Google My Business is designed to make the management of business pages and local data easy for the business owner. For this reason, the platform has a lot of features for managing a business listing; reviews from customers are just one of the many features of this platform.
- The platform enables you to manage your visitor data, business location, listings, content, and reviews in one place
- Adds to your SEO ranking by improving your rankings in Google search results
- Gives you access to Google Hangout and Google Maps
- Has email and YouTube integration, which makes it easy to communicate and share videos with visitors
- The power to use Google data
- Google My Business has a limited audience for your content
- It prioritizes your Google+ social circles over other online users when showing your content
Yelp was established in 2004 as a local business review site where customers of a given business can leave reviews. The site now has over 150 million unique monthly users and over 100 million local business reviews. This makes it one of the best sites a local business such as your assisted living business can use to seek reviews from. While it might not be a popular review site for senior assisted living facilities, it does tend to rank high organically.
All you need to do to get started is set up a free business account and list your business by following the prompts the site provides. Your customers will then be able to find your business in the Yelp business listings and leave a review. Yelp is definitely the easiest review platform for local businesses to use.
- The site is easy to use, even for business people with poor technology skills
- It is a popular review site likely to be visited by many people searching for assisted living facilities
- Offers SEO benefits for local businesses in local searches
- Has a high traffic of users
- Legitimate reviews often get flagged as fake by the Yelp review filter
- The site sells ad space for revenue which can result in competitor ads showing on your Yelp profile
- When users contact you through Yelp, the system sends the request to your competitors (unless the user unchecks this option)
Senior Advisor is the most popular site providing information about the assisted living industry, along with Caring.com. The site provides a list of assisted living facilities across the United States, information on senior living communities and trusted reviews on communities and facilities. The site contains over 100,000 reviews of assisted living businesses across the United States, making it one of the top sources of information on assisted living facilities in the country.
To get started with Senior Advisor, all you need to do is register as a member and then create your business profile by clicking on the “Claim this Profile” icon. You can then fill in the details of your business and submit. Your business profile will be approved within 48 hours. Customers can then find your business on the platform and leave reviews.
- It is industry-specific to assisted living which makes it the most relevant platform for people seeking information on assisted living facilities
- It is easy to set up, use and reply to reviews
- Has a large targeted population which makes it easy for actual customers to find your business
- Is relatively unknown to people outside the industry so some potential customers may not use it
- Is not as popular as generic review sites such as Yelp
Facebook Ratings & Reviews
By October 2017, Facebook had 85.57 million users from the United States. This represents a huge audience you can tap into by having a business profile on Facebook. This platform is trusted by many people because it makes it difficult for business owners to remove bad reviews, meaning that customers easily get a true picture of the business.
Creating a review section for your business on Facebook is quite simple. To get started, you first need to create a Facebook page for your business. Once this is done, edit the page settings on the main menu to allow visitors to review your page. Save the changes. Now customers who visit your Facebook page can leave reviews.
- Facebook is a very popular social media platform with a lot of traffic which makes it easy for your business to be found by many people.
- Reviews on Facebook influence you to be on the top position at Facebook professional services which makes your business visible to a wider audience
- Reviews also increase the credibility and authenticity of your business
- Facebook presents the largest possibility of fake ratings which can harm your business
- Customers can also limit activity on their post which may make it difficult for you to respond to negative reviews
How to Get Online Reviews
Getting listed on review sites is just the beginning. You need to put in some work to collect actual 5 star reviews. Different businesses use different methods to acquire reviews. Here are some of the best ways to actually get more online reviews for assisted living businesses:
Highlight your best features
Your service experience is the key to getting positive online reviews. Most reviews you read will be focused on the ambiance of your facility, dining and food options, cleanliness, and friendly and cheerful atmosphere, among other things. Positively engaging with decision makers and their experiences with you will entice them to share those experiences with others via reviews. Focus on what drives reviews and maintain constant awareness of what’s being written so you can form a strategy to showcase those service attributes.
Offer the Best Services
A survey by Get Five Stars found that 25% of customers write a review when their experience with your business was positive while another 33% leave a review if the experience was either extremely good or extremely bad. This means that if you want to get good reviews, you need to offer good services to your customers. As an assisted living business, you have to impress both the people you are serving and their immediate family members since most of the time the elderly seeking assisted living services may not be in the position to write a review. However, their family members and friends are likely to write a glowing review for your business if you take good care of them at your facility.
Close the sale and take action
A Bright Local survey found that 68% of customers are open to writing a review if the business asks them to. The same study found that about 26% of all consumers are never asked for reviews. This means that many businesses fail to get reviews simply because they don’t ask for them. Make a point of asking your customers to leave a review for your business.
Don’t just ask everyone, though; instead, ask only those customers who express their satisfaction with your services.
Do not offer incentives for reviews, but always prioritize customer experience and hospitality so that they are more willing to leave a positive review.
These are the kind of people who will be willing to say something nice about your business due to their personal experiences.
Google and other search engines consider reviews to be a conversation about your business, so your aim should always be to start a fruitful conversation when using reviews for SEO. For this reason, make sure that you respond to reviews as quickly as possible. This will both start a conversation with your existing customers and encourage new customers to ask a question if they have one.
In addition, when you respond to reviews and positively engage your customers in the review section, new customers will get the feeling that you truly care about your customers, which is likely to bring more business. This will also encourage more customers to leave reviews because they can anticipate your timely response.
Seek to create a buzz
By sharing humorous facts related to your business alongside your business content, you will create a buzz that can be quite healthy for your business. This creates a discussion that will make a lot of people comment on and share the same information from your site. In the end, this will reach more people who may have been your customers in the past; therefore, they will likely write a review about your business as a result of the buzz.
Connect with people who serve seniors and have some authoritative influence, such as:
- Senior centers
- Rehabilitation centers
- Meals on Wheels volunteers
- Pharmacists and Dieticians
- Hospital Administrative staff, nurses, and paramedics
- Physical, occupational and speech therapists
- Physicians, including ophthalmologists, neurologists, psychiatrists and geriatricians
- Psychotherapists, psychologists and licensed counselors
- Home care and hospice providers
Whether you use Google, Yelp, Senior Advisor, Facebook, or even blog post reviews, have these influencers speak their own voice, providing honest perspectives and opinions about your facility.
Use several platforms
Google, just like new customers, considers both the volume and the date of the reviews on your site when determining SEO. Very few old reviews won’t do you any good in terms of SEO rankings and most likely will not influence potential customers seeking your services. You need customers to constantly write reviews about your services. The best way to ensure this is to use different platforms to seek reviews. When you get your business listed on several citation sites, your customers can easily find your business online and leave a review.
To learn more about how you can start your online review strategy, contact us today.
Now that you understand how to use online reviews, let’s move on to our best practices in getting online reviews.