Google reviews for Veterinary practices: Our big how to guide
If you’re new to dealing with Google reviews for your practice, you may find them intimidating. But there’s no reason to.
In fact, they’re a massive positive for your practice. As long as you know how to use them to your benefit.
And that’s exactly what you will be doing once you’ve familiarised yourself with the advice set out below!
Why do we need them?
You may be wondering why you need to bother with reviews. Your vet practice has been getting along fine without giving them time or thought for years, decades, maybe even centuries.
But the fact is that when consumers decide they need a new thing in their life, these days the search usually starts with Google. Holiday to Spain, takeaway pizza or new veterinary practice, Google has the answers.
When looking for a practice, most people will type “vets in [x city]” or “vets near me” into a Google search, and make their decision based on the top handful of results.
The first thing they see are paid ads, which typically cost the advertiser £2 per click – an expensive proposition.
Next is the map pack, and that’s what we’re interested in. Our aim is to dominate it.
The first entry on the map pack averages 30% of clicks, second gets 20%, third gets 10%. Everything else shares the remaining 40%. We want to do everything we can to maximise our chances of being in the top three, and of being in that top spot.
How do we do that? First, we make sure that the information on our Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) listing is complete and optimised. And then we focus on getting lots of ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ reviews.
A large collection of positive reviews is a massive stamp of approval on any business. Just think of how important TripAdvisor has become for restaurants and hotels. Veterinary practices are no different.
But more than that, Google judges which businesses to list higher on its map in large part based on the quality and quantity of your reviews.
Put simply, if you want more clients, Google reviews is the place to start.
Digital Marketing panel @London Vet Show
L-R: Gudrun Ravetz - British Veterinary Association, Tracey Morley Jewkes - Linneaus, Justin Phillips - Practice Made Purrfect, Lisa Robb - IVC Evidensia
How do I get more Google reviews?
It may be an old cliché, but with reviews it’s 100% true: if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Think of the restaurant analogy. Unless you’re somebody who proactively reviews as a habit, the chances of you leaving a review for a particular restaurant are pretty low – and if you do decide to make an out of character decision to do it, it usually isn’t going to be positive!
But if the owner was to come to your table after your meal and explain that reviews were really important to local businesses, and that if you could find the time to leave one he and his team would be especially grateful, how likely would you be to say no?
In practice, we know when a consult or procedure has gone well. Every time someone comes in with a thank you card or flowers, we should be asking them to leave a review.
However, people in our industry often don’t enjoy salesy conversations. We can be quite awkward like that.
So the second way of generating reviews is to automate the process, sending texts or emails requesting reviews after every consultation, saying something like “please help other pet owners to receive the best care for their pet by leaving a five star review of the service you received with us”, including a direct link to the review service.
We talk about conversion. The number of people who see your practice’s listing on Google and decide that your vets is the best place for their pet and book an appointment online. The more reviews you have, the more trustworthy you look, the more people convert to become clients.
You may worry that if you ask for reviews from everybody, are you going to receive more negative reviews?
The reality is, with an exception of a very small number of practices, people absolutely love what you do, and they’re so grateful for the compassionate care you offer their pets.
Your goal should be 100 five star reviews – to start with. That’s enough to show a consensus opinion.
Of course among those you may get the odd negative review. But that will always be the case, regardless of whether you’re working to maximise your reviews.
The solution to pollution is dilution. And I refuse to apologise for the rhyme.
If you proactively ask clients to leave reviews, you will flood your page with positive feedback, which puts any unfortunate negatives into context.
There is an argument to say that 4.8 or 4.9 as an average rating is more believable than five, so the odd bad review actually might not be such a bad thing!
Now we have them – what do we do with them?
Replying to reviews can feel like groundhog day. You have one hundred to reply to. How do you stop every response sounding exactly the same? How do you avoid brain fatigue?
Nevertheless, it’s critical that you reply. Why? Because of our friend Google once more.
Google likes to see you getting lots of reviews – but they also like to see lots of replies from you. They value an engaged business, and you get marked up by the algorithm for replying.
Not to mention that if a vet practice is actively replying, it looks to the browsing pet owner as though their reputation is important to them, which shows that they care.
As some nuts and bolts advice, nominate one person in the practice to handle replies, and get your settings sorted. You can receive a notification every time a review is left, or just if a question is asked or depending on the score.
Decide what email these notifications are sent to, and what you receive notifications for – and make sure that the person who will be handling reviews agrees!
Reviews are like a spectator sport. So when you’re leaving a reply, on one hand it’s obviously for the person who wrote the review, but on the other it’s really for the benefit of all of the people who are going to be reading through them.
The worst thing that you can do is template a response and use it time and again. Not only will that annoy the people that you’re responding to, but it will be blatantly obvious to all of those that are reading through. It’ll look like you can’t be bothered.
You’re not allowed to talk about specific cases or clinical information, it’s against RCVS guidelines. But we should be trying to make responses as personalised as possible.
If we recognise a client and we know the name of their pet, absolutely use it. People like to hear compliments about their pet – so use this to your advantage. Tell people that their dog is a real character, that their cat is beautiful😻.
If a pet has had a procedure or is feeling unwell, you can ask for a picture when they are back on top form, which is both nice and thoughtful, and another tick on Google’s algorithm, as it is seen as even more engagement.
Using emojis is great because it helps to communicate personality, which is essentially the aim with this whole exercise – show the world 🌍 how great you and your practice are and how much you care about your patients 🐕🐈🐇 .
The more personal you can make it the better. For people scanning through reviews, it looks great if you’re on familiar terms with as many of your clients as possible, because that’s exactly the service they want for their pet.
With bad reviews the aim is to take the conversation offline, as you don’t want to air your dirty laundry in public.
Invite them to call the practice to talk through their concerns. If you already know about their unhappiness, you want to use this opportunity to show anyone who comes next that you take it seriously, and that you’re in a process of dealing with it.
Reference that you’ve had a conversation directly with the client already. A classic example would be “we’re sorry you’re unhappy about how you were treated in the practice, we have spoken to you about it and we hope that has allayed your concerns”.
This shows that you take them seriously without admitting or accepting responsibility.
Remember that you can’t delete reviews, which is why it is always about racking up positive reviews to dilute any negative experiences.
Reviews generated for Strand Vets, Isle of Man
Is there anything else we need to know?
Once you have the reviews rolling in, you can really start to make them work for you.
Use them everywhere. The best reviews should be featured on your website, on tvs and marketing space in practice and on leaflets and other collateral that you’re creating. Social media is another great place to share them.
The idea is to work smarter not harder – if you get one great review, you should find five ways in which it can benefit the practice.
And finally, make an effort to share positive feedback with the practice team.
Every member of your team will want to know how appreciated they are by their clients.
It builds pride in the team, fosters a great team spirit and can build individuals’ self-esteem, especially if people are singled out for particular praise as an individual.
The bottom line is that managing your Google reviews doesn’t need to be a big job within the practice, but it can have a big impact. Get cracking on our tips above, and see the benefits!
And finally, in the spirit of practising what we preach, if you’ve found this content useful, please help Practice Made Purrfect grow by leaving a 5-star review on Google https://g.page/r/CbqIiw9ird8vEAg/review
Let us guide you through the process of managing your online reputation
0113 347 0057