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2021 SEO trend ideas

By OppGen

The Top 10 SEO Trends to Look Out for in 2021

2020 has been a difficult year for many businesses, mainly due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 responses generally included stay-at-home orders that often changed how companies operated.

It’s no wonder that Google decided to hold off on some of its 2020 search engine optimization (SEO) updates and push them back to later dates.

That said, many of the SEO trends for 2021 may look very similar to the trends of 2020. But that isn’t a bad thing. We can work with what we’ve already been doing and refine our SEO strategies for the better.

But in case you managed to miss 2020’s SEO trends, no worries — we’ll recap many of those that are still part of our top 10 SEO trends for 2021.

 

1. Mobile-first websites

Mobile-first websites are a must at this point. To understand what mobile-first means, we need to understand how search engines work.

Search engines use bots to “crawl” web pages and analyze pages’ content: text, video, images, audio, its overall layout, etc. From there, search engines will take the information the bots crawled and try to better understand what the page is about, where it further analyzes content. All this information is stored in an index, a massive database.

Search engines then determine a page’s SERPs (search engine results pages) ranking based on the quality of a page’s content, how quickly it loads, how relevant it is to certain searches, etc.

Mobile-first indexing refers to this whole process, except instead of a search engine going through this process on a desktop site, it will do it on the mobile version first and place more weight on the mobile experience than the desktop site in terms of ranking. Mobile-first indexing still takes other information into account, but if your website doesn’t work well on mobile, then it’s likely to rank lower, even with high-quality content.

Google initially announced it was going to start the shift to mobile-first in May 2019 and have it completed for all sites in September 2020, but due to COVID-19, Google has given an extension for webmasters to make the switch to mobile-first by the end of March 2021

That said, if you don’t have a mobile-first site, you need to have one as soon as possible.

 

2. Long-form content

Longer blogs can improve your site’s SERPs ranking. SEM Rush’s State of Content Marketing Report found that blog posts with over 3,000 words get three times more traffic and four times the number of shares while also achieving 3.5 more backlinks than articles in average length (about 900 to 1,200 words).

But length isn’t everything — you need to make sure your content’s quality is top-notch, too.

 

3. EAT and YMYL

Google has given search engine marketers (SEM) and search engine optimization experts a few principles to guide their web pages to higher SERPs rankings.

One of these principles is called EAT (or E-A-T). EAT comes from a document Google’s human quality raters used to assess the quality of search results. Google publicly released this document in 2013 to help people better understand what Google looks for on web pages.

EAT is an acronym, with each letter standing for the following items:

 

Expertise

Expertise is about having a great deal of knowledge about a certain field. This means Google’s looking at who the content creator is and what their qualifications are. If you’re a doctor writing about chemotherapy, you’re more qualified than someone on reddit or a Facebook group discussing the use of essential oils to treat cancer.

But you don’t necessarily need to have the degree or background to rank high on SERPs. Everyday expertise matters, too. So if you’re looking for information on what it’s like to undergo chemotherapy, you might find a blog by someone who chronicled their experience with it.

 

Authoritativeness

Authoritativeness refers to your reputation among other experts in your field. This often comes from other trusted sources and experts linking back to your article. This can be other blog posts they’ve written, expert recommendations, articles, and high ratings.

Keep in mind that authority is relative. While some companies are authoritative in their respective fields, they may not be authoritative in others. For example, the Walt Disney Company would be considered an authoritative source in the entertainment industry, but it wouldn’t be an expert on how to grow vegetable gardens.

 

Trustworthiness

For EAT, trustworthiness is about legitimacy, accuracy, and transparency. Essentially, it boils down to creating content that people can trust.

You can boost your content’s trustworthiness by linking back to reliable, high-quality sources written by experts or articles that were posted on trustworthy websites. You can reach out to guest bloggers who are experts in their respective fields to see if they’d write a blog post for you or sit down for an interview.

Like authoritativeness, trustworthiness is also relative. Let’s return to that last example with the Walt Disney Company and gardening: While you can expect the Walt Disney Company to have accurate release dates for its upcoming slate of shows on Disney+, you can’t expect that from your local gardening center.

 

YMYL

Like EAT, YMYL is another Google SEO principle that came from the Google Search Quality Evaluation Guideline document. YMYL stands for “Your Money or Your Life” (or “Your Money, Your Life”), which refers to websites that fall under subjects that affect people’s lives, typically related to things like finance or healthcare. If your business offers any advice or information related to these topics, Google’s algorithms will likely pay closer attention to EAT when ranking your site.

Even if your business doesn’t necessarily have anything related to YMYL subjects, EAT is still important. It helps ensure that you’re creating high-quality content that helps people find what they’re looking for. High-quality content is always something to strive for, so keep EAT and YMYL in mind as you create content for your audiences.

 

4. Voice search

As smart speakers like Alexa and Siri have become more common and more popular in households, the technology behind them has only gotten better.

It’s no wonder, then, that voice search will affect search queries. Consider the commercials featuring Alexa or Siri: People ask them questions in a conversational manner. That approach differs from the queries people search when typing on their phone or computer, which tend to be shorter and may contain abbreviations.

For example, a voice search query might be something like: “What is today’s temperature supposed to be?”

But a typed query would probably be phrased along the lines of: “temperature today.” 

Keep voice search in mind as you go forward with SEO strategies, especially as more and more homes install smart speakers and voice assistants.

 

5. Snippets

Each individual search result on Google includes what is called a “snippet,” which includes the following details:

  • The name of the page in blue
  • The URL in green
  • Body text that comes directly from the page’s text or meta descriptions

But not all snippets are created equal, and some snippets can bring in more traffic and help improve your SERPs ranking.

 

Featured snippets

Featured snippets are kind of a shortcut on Google’s SERPs that include a block of information from a top-ranked website. They often include eye-catching images, reviews, product prices, and other relevant information and content that a specific page has to share. There can only be one featured snippet, and it’s considered to be ranked as 0 instead of ranked as 1.

Because they’re highly visual and stand out compared to other snippets, featured snippets also take up a large portion of traffic. If you manage to snag a featured snippet spot for a blog, you can expect to see more traffic headed to that specific page.

In order to have a featured snippet, you need, at the very least, to be in the top 5 organic search results. Structured data, or the code in your web page that informs search engines what your page is about, can also help make it easier for search engines to read your website and take the information that is most valuable on the page and have it be featured in the featured snippet. Having structured data is not required, but it can increase your chances of getting that coveted featured snippet spot!

 

Rich snippets

To the untrained eye, rich snippets don’t look all that different than most snippets you’ll see on SERPs. But if you slow down and really take a close look at each individual snippet, you may realize that some snippets have more detailed information, such as ratings or cook times or calorie counts. Snippets with these extra details are rich snippets.

While they don’t look all that different from the average snippet, rich snippets do tend to perform better than their typical snippet counterparts.

 

6. Visual content

Website design

We’ve already discussed why mobile-first websites are pretty much a requirement at this point, but we also need to go into why sites need good designs and user experiences. 57% of internet users say they won’t recommend a business with a poorly designed mobile website. That’s nearly two-thirds of people who won’t do you any favors with word-of-mouth marketing, the most powerful kind of marketing.

You need to put in a good deal of thought when designing your mobile-first website. It must reflect your brand, and if there’s even a single message or image that doesn’t align with your business (or vice-versa), it will negatively affect prospects.

Keeping your website’s overall design simple, clean, and easy to navigate on all devices will do you and your business a lot of good.

 

Images

A Bright Local survey found 60% of consumers are more likely to consider local search results that have images and are 23% more likely to contact a business that showcases an image. 

To stand out, you need high-quality images, but you also don’t want to have massive images that take up a lot of data. This can affect site speed and your SERPs ranking as a result. Sites like TinyPNG will compress images, making the file size smaller without a massive drop in quality.

Also, keep your website accessible to people with screen readers and visual disabilities by including alt text on all your images. Alt text should describe what’s going on in an image or what’s featured in an image. If you’re able to include relevant keywords in the alt text, that’s a nice bonus!

But the big thing with alt text is to focus on is accessibility. An accessible website is better for all users, which is something search engines pay attention to.

  

Videos

Video content is becoming more and more popular, particularly with younger generations (but don’t discount the fact that baby boomers use websites like YouTube regularly, too!).

When used correctly, video can be an incredibly useful form of content that can really contribute to your SEO strategy. Posts with videos attract 3 times more links than posts with just text

SEO is very much about crafting high-quality content, and that includes the quality of video. To produce quality results, you’ll have to invest in high-quality video production. You don’t need to go out and hire the best studio to do all the work, but you do need to keep quality in mind.

Due to the extra investment, it’s really important to keep your audience and goals in mind, otherwise your money may not end up helping you get the results you want. That said, one of the best ways to attract more leads is to create educational videos that provide insight and information that’s useful to your target audience. 

This could be a video featuring all of the ins and outs of a product you sell or showing a procedure or service you offer.

Your content doesn’t have to be funny or commercial-like. Stick to what you know and do it well.

 

7. Local search listings

If the pandemic lockdown continues into 2021 (and it’s likely that it may, with estimates of COVID-19 being less of a threat around November 2021), that’s a serious threat to small businesses. But small businesses do have something that big box stores and corporations don’t necessarily have: connections to a very specific, local location.

Creating a local SEO strategy, then, will be vital for the small businesses that struggled during 2020 and will either be playing catch-up or are trying to still stay afloat while in a lockdown.

Part of that local SEO strategy should include setting up a Google My Business listing, which is an invaluable resource that can put your business on the (Google) map. It makes it easy to respond and reply to reviews and curate your business’s digital presence. 

Since Google My Business listings are placed on Google Maps, your business will be so much easier for people to find and/or contact. You can even post updates on your Google My Business listing.

Don’t stop at just Google My Business. Part of any good SEO strategy, local or otherwise, is to build up backlinks. Get your business added to relevant listings, professional organizations (if any are applicable to your business), and review sites like Yelp and the Better Business Bureau. 

High reviews can also increase your SERPs ranking, and responding to negative reviews can also make a difference, both in terms of ranking and simply from a business standpoint.

 

8. Predictive search improvements

Google’s predictive search is set to improve in 2021. The AI-driven tool called Google Discover recommends content based on users’ behavioral patterns and habits, which helps the search engine better identify what kind of content is most likely relevant to the user.

Creating audience personas can be of great use here. As you learn more about your audience’s demographics, psychographics, and interests, you can craft content that they’d be more likely to click on and eventually come back to make a purchase or an appointment.

 

9. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence is only going to get, well, more intelligent as time goes on. This means it’s time to focus on optimizing content for AI algorithms, such as Google’s RankBrain. RankBrain plays a very important role in how the search engine ranks SERPs by using Google’s ranking factors.

Given all of the searches performed on Google, RankBrain is only going to keep learning and getting smarter. While Google and most other search engines utilizing AI won’t share the specific details about what the main factors are when determining rank, you can certainly try to learn.

One guess is user experience. AI can easily see how long people spend on pages as well as the click-through rate, backlinks, readability, and more.

Although AI may be determining where your pages are ranked, it’s still very important to remember to create content for people, not the machine. (It’s worth noting that Google’s bots are able to read and comprehend content similarly to how humans do, so again, don’t create content for the machines. Create it for people.)

 

10. Non-Google search engines

Now’s a good time to research and consider SEO strategies for other search engines, especially since Google’s facing an antitrust lawsuit from the U.S. Department of Justice and several state attorneys general. Though it’s not all that likely for Google to give up its status as the world’s top search engine as a result of this lawsuit, it does serve as a good reminder that there are other search engines out there that reach people in places Google can’t.

This means keeping an eye on Bing — and even on Apple, which may be slowly drifting away from relying on Google and headed toward creating its own search engine in the very near future.

 

Contact OppGen for more SEO trends and information

SEO is always changing, and at OppGen, we keep our finger on the pulse of these changes and trends. We’ll continue to utilize this information to optimize our SEO clients’ websites and improve page rankings.

For more information about OppGen’s SEO program, contact us today.

By OppGen

SEO vs. PPC

A fairly common question those who are learning about digital marketing strategies ask is, “Which one is better: SEO or PPC?”

That’s not a simple question to answer. It’s one that’s actually complex and fairly nuanced, and at the end of the day, it really depends on several factors.

First, let’s review some of the basics of SEO and PPC before pitting them against one another.

 

What are SEO and PPC?

Both SEO and PPC are digital marketing strategies that rely on using search engines like Google and Bing.

 

What is SEO?

SEO, or search engine optimization, is the process of optimizing a website and its content to rank higher on relevant search results for certain keywords. The end goal of SEO is to have pages on your website rank high on search engine results pages (SERPs), ideally on the first or second page.

To do this, you need:

  • a fast website that works well on mobile devices
  • your business’s name, address, and phone number listed in local directories and Google My Business
  • relevant content that is valuable to your target audience and includes keywords phrases they may search for
  • positive reviews, social media accounts for your business, and a link-building strategy

When all of these things are combined, search engines take notice and will push a website higher in the SERPs, making it more likely to be found and viewed when prospects search for relevant keywords.

This means you’ll have to research keywords and phrases and how difficult they are to rank for using a website like ahrefs or SEMrush, both of which allow you to track current SERP rankings as well as where your website and its pages are located on SERPs. Staying up to date on new industry findings and creating content around that information can also be a way to rank well.

Also, SEO is heavily dictated by search engine algorithms, and these algorithms change and update every so often. Search engines, with Google in particular, will not disclose the changes, leaving SEO experts to have to experiment and guess why the SERPs rankings change.

 

What is PPC?

PPC is an acronym for “pay per click,” which is a type of digital advertisement that incurs a cost whenever a prospect clicks on the ad.

PPC has two main forms: search ads, which appear on search engine results pages (SERPS); and display ads, which are visual banner ads that are shown on certain websites that either have relevant content or take a user’s search history into account.

PPC involves a keyword bidding process that will determine where your ad is placed on the SERPs (i.e., the top or bottom of Page 1 of a Google search with a search ad) and the cost per click (CPC). Bidding too low on keywords can result in a less visible ad placement, but too high can drain your budget. PPC allows you to set a budget and won’t go over that budget. But when that allotted budget is emptied, the search engine will stop displaying your ads.

PPC ads can be displayed only to people in specific locations during set times of the day. You’ll also select how specific the keywords you bid on have to be in order to match a search. This is called a match type.

There are three match types:

  1. Broad match: Displays ad when keyword is used and includes variations
  2. Phrase match: Displays ads when someone searches for your exact keyword phrase or close variations of that exact phrase
  3. Exact match: Displays ads only when searchers enter the exact same keyword(s) into the search engine, in the exact order if it’s a phrase

Google also has an option that prevents your ad from being displayed when the connected keywords include certain words. This feature conveniently prevents prospects who aren’t seeking your services from being able to click on your ad and essentially wasting the cost of that click.

With PPC, you want to make sure you’re helping the right prospects find your business at a CPC you can afford while also being competitive enough for those prospects to find your ad. 

 

SEO vs. PPC: What’s the difference?

Before getting into what the differences between SEO and PPC are, let’s talk about the similarities first.

  • Both SEO and PPC are digital marketing strategies that rely on search engines like Google and Bing
  • Both of them can increase website traffic for your business, which has the potential to turn into actual foot traffic into your business’s physical location
  • SEO and PPC have the ability to create brand awareness
  • They also both rely on keywords, but in pretty different ways

Now, regarding the differences between the two:

 

SEO is organic; PPC is not

When we say that SEO is an “organic” strategy, we’re not talking about it being untouched by chemicals or anything considered “unnatural.” In this context, organic simply means it is unpaid. SEO does not require you to pay a search engine for a better placement.

PPC, on the other hand, requires a financial investment. After all, PPC stands for pay per click, which explains how the payment system of these ads work.

 

PPC is a form of paid advertisement; SEO is not

At the most basic explanation, PPC requires paying a search engine to place your business’s advertisement in an ideal position. PPC is a bit more complicated than that, because a keyword bidding system determines where the ad’s placement.

SEO is not a form of advertising you pay a search engine for. SEO is entirely on you to ensure your website is the best quality it can be in just about every regard: speed, accessibility on mobile and desktop devices, and the quality of the content you create and upload to your site, as well as the keywords you want to rank for. It doesn’t require a single cent, though we recommended that you invest in a keyword research website like ahrefs or SEMrush, both of which can give you an idea of how difficult it can be to rank for certain keywords.

 

PPC is better for the short-term

SEO takes more time and effort to optimize and get the results you want.

Although it isn’t instant, PPC does get quicker results, and once you get a grasp on how it works and how to better optimize it, you’ll see even more results, potentially at a lower cost per click.

 

SEO builds credibility and trust

Nearly 40% of people are more likely to click on an organic search result link than a search ad because, well, that top link on Google isn’t paid for. That means it is a trusted resource that earned its place on the first page, and that’s why they’ll click on it. They trust Google to pull up the best results, and those best results are on Page 1 for a reason, and those are the sites that get more traffic.

Building up credibility and trust through your content and business reviews is a must with SEO, and though it is a lot of work, it will reward you with more leads as you boost your way up the ranks.

 

Which is better: SEO or PPC?

Neither PPC nor SEO is necessarily better than the other. It really depends on your business’s goals and needs, as well as the industry you’re in.

The following breakdown of pros and cons of both SEO and PPC can help you better determine which one is best for your business:

 

SEO pros

  • Helps local prospects find you
  • Builds credibility and trust
  • Increases organic traffic
  • Sustainable
  • Higher clickthrough rate (CTR) than PPC and more clicks than PPC (at no cost!)

 

SEO cons

  • Long-term strategy that takes time and effort
  • Results not instant (may take up to 6 months or more to start seeing results)
  • Never-ending effort to create the best content and user experience
  • Requires keyword research, staying up to date with search engine algorithm updates

 

PPC pros

  • Intended to generate leads from local prospects
  • Fast results
  • Targets more specific audiences
  • Gathers prospect and lead data
  • Easy to test ads to maximize CTR
  • Not affected by algorithm updates

 

PPC cons

  • Costs more in certain industries
  • Not the most sustainable strategy
  • When budget is empty or you decide to stop doing PPC, ads stop displaying and the number of leads will drop

 

We believe that SEO and PPC compliment one another, and when combined as part of a digital marketing strategy, they can achieve the best results.

While PPC can give you a good starting place for getting leads, it is not a good sustainable long-term option. If you decide to stop using PPC, then there’s a very good chance that you may stop getting leads.

If you utilize SEO while you’re getting leads through PPC, you can slowly begin to build a more steady influx of traffic that will also pull in leads, and at no cost to you.

 

Not sure if you need PPC or SEO or both? Contact us for guidance on the best options

Depending on your industry, advertising budget, and business goals, SEO or PPC may be better for you than the other; or it could be that both digital marketing strategies are worth the investment.

At OppGen, a digital marketing agency, we work with many different and highly specialized businesses in a number of industries to help them generate more leads. We offer both SEO and PPC services, and we can help you determine which strategies are most effective for your business.

Start today by filling out our free digital audit, or contact us for more information.

By OppGen

Everything We Know About the Apple Search Engine

With the United States Justice Department suing Google for allegedly violating antitrust laws, Apple may be considering putting an end to its partnership with Google as its top priority search engine.

So, who would be taking the place of the search engine giant? Probably not Bing, given the long history of the always ongoing Mac versus Microsoft PC debate. DuckDuckGo’s privacy policies probably make an alliance between it and Apple unlikely as well.

It seems that Apple won’t be reaching out to other search engines to partner with. In fact, it appears that Apple is developing its own search engine now that Google could be cut down to size.

While Apple has yet to confirm this for certain, there have been a few recent developments that have us feeling pretty sure about an Apple search engine:

 

Applebot shows some movement

Applebot, Apple’s web crawler, has been more active than usual lately. Web crawler bots like this one are used to “crawl” over webpages and gather information and data from these webpages. 

More activity means that Applebot’s been crawling webpages for more and more data, presumably to create a database for a future search engine.

 

iOS 14 update drops a hint

The recent iOS 14 update on iPhone has shown a few hints that Apple might not be relying on Google so much. When an iPhone user searches for something on their phone, Google is the default search engine that displays results. But the iOS update has started to push Google search results out of the search screen and is starting to show results that Apple generates instead.

 

Apple hired Google’s head of search 

Roughly two and a half years ago, Apple poached Google’s head of search, John Giannandrea. Although Giannandrea was brought on to help develop and improve artificial intelligence for Apple, he also came with almost a decade of experience in the realm of creating and improving search engines. Basically, he’s the perfect hire for any company hoping to build a search engine, and he is still working for Apple.

 

What does this mean for SEO and PPC?

Given that the lawsuit against Google hasn’t resulted in anything and that Apple is still utilizing Google, it doesn’t mean a whole lot yet. But that also doesn’t mean that we should start preparing and researching best optimization practices for this Apple search engine.

OppGen is a Google Premier Partner, meaning we’re one of the best digital marketing agencies when it comes to Google Search Ads and have undergone rigorous training for Google’s services. Not only that, but we are also a Bing Search Partner. Even though Bing doesn’t gain as much traction as Google, there are still audiences that are worth targeting that even Google can’t reach.

That said, we have experience in several different search engine platforms and will be eager to learn the best search optimization practices for Apple’s future search engine, when they decide to go public with it. We’ll be keeping a close eye for Apple search engine-related updates and will be sure to keep our clients in the loop, too.

 

Contact us

For more information about OppGen’s array of digital marketing services, contact us today.

By OppGen

How to Get More Google Reviews

Reviews matter, and Google reviews especially matter. A 2018 ReviewTrackers report found that 63.6% of consumers are likely to check online reviews on Google before visiting a business. That’s more than any other review site.

Not only does having Google reviews matter, but so does getting customers to review your business. According to the Pew Research Center, about 38% of Americans never leave reviews on products or services. So you’ll have to come up with some ways to get those reviews.

But first, let’s start by making sure your business is capable of getting Google reviews.

 

How to start getting Google reviews in 2 simple steps

If your business isn’t getting Google reviews, it’s time to make sure it does. The following instructions will put you on the path to getting reviews and more customers.

 

1. Sign up for Google My Business

If you don’t have one already, you should definitely sign up for a Google My Business account. You’ll need one in order to get Google reviews, but its benefits go beyond that. It can help you rank higher in local search results, provide accurate information about your business, and helps you against competing businesses.

You can create an account by going to the Google My Business page.

If your business has already been established as a Place on Google Maps, you can type in your business’s name and claim it from the dropdown list. If you can’t find it, click the Add your business to Google link.

From there, you’ll be asked to select a business category, whether or not you have a physical location for your business (assuming you do, click Yes), and to type in your address. It’s very important to make sure you type in your address correctly. If you serve a specific area or neighborhood, you can include that information, too, using a city name or zip code.

You’ll be asked to add your contact information. Like the address, it’s also very important to make sure this information is correct.

 

2. Verify your Google My Business account

One of the reasons why it’s important to have the correct address and contact information is so Google can verify your listing. Google offers a couple of verification options:

  • A postcard with a verification code sent in the mail
  • Phone call
  • Text
  • Email

The postcard is the most common option, as the other verification options are not available for all business types.

If you fail to type in the correct contact information, then it will be more difficult to get the verification code.

When the code arrives, go to the left menu and click Verify location. You’ll enter the code and submit it.

Now you have a verified Google My Business listing! This means you can edit your business’s information, respond to reviews, and add photos, and post various other updates.

It also means it’s much easier to get more Google reviews.

 

How to get more Google reviews

Create a Google review link shortcut

With a Google My Business listing, you can make it much easier for customers to review your website. Google My Business listings have access to a Google review link shortcut that can take customers right to your business’s Google review page.

 

Shorten the review shortcut

Use a link shortener like bit.ly, especially if you’re handing out cards as reminders to review. Typing the full review URL can be a pain. But a link shortener can make it much easier for people to review, especially if they’re reviewing on their phone. Keep in mind that bit.ly does have a set number of links you can shorten, but as long as you’re just using the same link for the review page, that shouldn’t be a problem.

 

Create a Google review page on your website

Reviews can be very persuasive, so why not have a review and testimonial page on your business’s website? Your website may have the capabilities to even have a Google review widget that lets website visitors scroll through the reviews, which will update on its own without having to copy and paste reviews whenever your business receives a new one.

 

Leave a Google review CTA and/or widget in your website’s footer

In the world of marketing, a CTA is one of the most important things. A CTA, or Call To Action, essentially sums up the action you want your audience to take.

In this case, the desired action is for your audience to write a Google review. By adding a Google review CTA in your website’s footer, they’ll see that as a reminder on every single website page.

Depending on your website, you may also be able to use or create a footer widget that links to the review page, too.

 

Ask for a review in-person

Asking for a review in-person is not rocket science, but it’s effective.

If you ask a customer or patient for a review, they’re more likely to leave a review. You can ask them in-person at the end of an appointment or when the service is complete.

Sometimes you may have to entice them to leave a review — try offering a discount for their next session or the next time they use your service.

Don’t forget to tell customers how to leave a review for your business. You could even show them how to do it on their phone.

 

Request a review digitally

A good rule of thumb when asking for a review is to ask for it in the same medium they used to reach out to you. If a customer emailed you initially, reply to their email and request a review toward the end of the email. If they messaged you on social media, ask them to leave a Google review on the same social media channel they used.

 

Respond to Google reviews

You should respond to Google reviews — especially the negative ones. Although that seems counterintuitive, replying to a negative review can actually do a lot more good than bad, but that’s only when it’s done right.

Avoid using the same copied-and-pasted script when replying to bad reviews. That implies to customers that you don’t really care about negative experiences and just want to address it and sweep it under the rug. Replies that are different and acknowledge and address the problem directly will receive a much, much better reception.

Replying to all reviews shows those reading these reviews that you care about customers’ feedback and genuinely want them to have a good experience. This makes customers more likely to return and will likely persuade new customers to become regulars.

 

Contact OppGen for more information

Google reviews matter a lot. They help customers choose where to go for products and services. They show that you care about customers and their feedback and genuinely try to make sure they receive the best possible service. They can create a certain image or perception of your business. These are all things that can affect the number of leads and customers coming into your business.

Being able to understand how Google reviews work is just the first step to getting more reviews. The next step is to contact OppGen. We can help you set up a Google My Business listing and discuss even more strategies and ideas for getting more Google reviews.

By OppGen

5 Ways to Get Clinic Reviews

Reviews are important when ordering a product online, but they are also incredibly important for clinics. 77% of patients rely on online reviews as their first step to find a new doctor. Seeing high ratings and reading reviews and the responses from clinics can give prospective patients a general idea of what they can expect from a healthcare provider.

The importance of reviews are one thing, and getting your clinic reviews is another thing entirely. At first, it may feel uncomfortable to focus on getting reviews for your clinic, but it will only help more patients find you, and then you can help these patients in return.

 

1. Create multiple places for patients to leave clinic reviews

Patients cannot leave reviews if there are no places for them to do so. Claiming your clinic or creating a page at the following websites can make it easy for patients to review your clinic. Not only does it increase the likelihood of getting a review but it is also an easy way to do some link-building for your clinic’s website.

Many of the following third-party review sites have badges you can add to your website that will redirect patients to a page that lets them easily read and leave reviews. This is also useful for prospective patients who may be in the research process and is seriously considering going to your clinic for their healthcare needs.

Keep in mind that with these third-party sites that you may not be able to reproduce them, as both the third-party site and patient own these reviews. Not to mention that reproducing these reviews without your patient’s permission is a violation of HIPAA laws.

If you want to be able to quote or share parts of a patient’s review to your clinic’s social media page, create a survey using SurveyMonkey or Google Forms and link to it when requesting reviews from patients who have consented to you sharing their review. You can also create a landing page for your website requesting this information as well.

 

Google My Business

When you search for a specific service on Google, one of the first results you’ll see is a rich snippet with Google Maps and a list of nearby services, most of which have reviews.

If you want your clinic to appear on a search, you should make a Google My Business account. It’s free and ensures that your clinic pops up on relevant Google searches. Google My Business allows your patients to leave reviews and lets you respond to their reviews. On top of those features, you can include your address, phone number, and hours of operation, and post updates about your business.

 

Facebook

If you’ve been creating Facebook ads for your clinic, then you have a Facebook business page for your clinic. If you don’t have a Facebook business page, don’t wait around — make one ASAP! Like Google My Business accounts, Facebook business pages are free. You can post updates and include your address, contact information, and hours of operation. You can even utilize Facebook Messenger to chat with current and prospective patients.

And of course, it allows patients to leave reviews.

 

Yelp

Yelp allows reviews regardless of whether or not you have an account with them, so you should certainly take the time to claim your business. This allows you to respond to reviews via direct messages or reply to the review itself, track views and leads coming from Yelp, and update information (i.e., hours of operation, address, contact information, etc.).

 

Healthgrades

Healthgrades is perfect for any and all healthcare providers, and many prospects find it useful, too, especially because it allows providers to list accepted insurances. Plus, it has the largest audience of healthcare consumers online. Healthgrades could be an option that could be considered to be further down the marketing funnel, maybe even more than Google, for prospective patients. The consumers there know what they’re looking for and are narrowing down options based on things like accepted insurance agencies, patient reviews, and so on. Like the other options, Healthgrades doesn’t cost a dime and is highly specific by field.

With all of these websites, make sure your clinic’s information is accurate and up to date. Incorrect information will only hurt your clinic.

 

2. Ask patients for a review of your clinic

Asking for a review is a bit of a no-brainer, but it still takes thought and consideration: When is the best time to ask? Where should I ask? How should I ask?

In all honesty, the answer to these questions is “it depends.” Context matters. Asking for a review at the wrong time or place, or simply asking in the wrong way might result in a negative review that might detract prospects from your clinic.

A good rule of thumb is to ask your patients to leave a review using the same medium of communication: in-person, over calls or text messages, your website, social media, email, and so on. Be sure to read the room — if your patient does not seem pleased with your clinic’s treatment or procedure, it may be wise to refrain from requesting a review. On the flip side, it’s a great idea to ask a patient who thanks you and compliments your services is prime to write a review.

Don’t forget about privacy and remaining HIPAA-compliant in how you gather reviews. If a patient has not consented to be contacted via email or text message, do not request a review through those channels. It is a good idea to tell patients they can submit reviews anonymously (when and where possible) and that they do not have to go into depth about the details of their visit. Give them some examples of what they can include in a review (“they took a lot of time to answer my questions”).

Last but not least, keep track of which patients have already left reviews so you don’t request another review from them again.

 

In-person

You don’t have to ask a patient for a review while they’re sitting on the exam table — there are other times, places, and ways you can ask in-person. The end of a visit or during waits between appointments (patients often wait for a doctor after seeing a nurse) are excellent times to request a review.

Consider printing appointment reminder cards with an active link to a review website and having your office employees say they can leave a review with the link on the card. Patients often keep reminder cards in places where they’ll see them so they remember when they have the appointment, like on their refrigerators, calendars, or desk.

Another print option to look into is take-home care instructions. Obviously you don’t want the review request to be the main focus of these instructions. The health and safety of your patients always comes first. Specifically with take-home instructions, keep a neutral and professional tone in the call to action.

Promotional items, like pens or magnets, can keep your clinic at the forefront of patients’ minds and can encourage them to leave reviews. Use a short call to action: “Tell us about your visit!”

With any printed review reminders, use a link shortener like bit.ly. It’s much easier than typing out the entire address.

 

Phone calls

It’s common for clinics to call patients for appointment reminders a day or two ahead of the appointment. Some clinics may also call to follow-up with a patient after a procedure. That follow-up call should be utilized more often for patients who did not undergo a medical procedure. Calling to check in with someone is always a thoughtful thing to do, but you should also use that follow-up call to request a review and direct patients to a landing page or third-party website.

 

Text messages

Fewer and fewer people own landlines and have cell phones instead. As a result, some clinics have started to move away from phone call reminders and follow-ups, and are using text reminders and follow-ups more often. Some of these reminders and follow-up text messages are automated, which can make this an easier process for your clinic.

Since smartphones are commonplace, patients can be sent a review request that includes a link to your landing page, where they can fill out and submit a review form right from their phone!

 

Your clinic’s website

If your patients tend to schedule appointments through your website, add a call to action button  in a visible place on your most popular pages that links to a landing page, survey form, or third-party review website page.

Be sure to include third-party website badges on your website, too — you can easily link to your clinic’s Facebook, Google My Business, Yelp, Healthgrades pages, and more.

 

Social media

Create a post that links to your landing page or favorite third-party review website. You should make this post more than once, but try to change up the language and when you post it to see when you’ll get the most reviews. Use best practices depending on the social media platform you’re using, and don’t use the exact same content on each platform. Every platform has different “rules” for what’s considered appropriate in a post.

 

Email

Sending a personalized thank-you email after an appointment is one way to ask for a review without really asking. Along with the thank you message, there should be a link for third-party review websites and/or your clinic website’s landing page form.

Automated emails may be a better option for bigger practices, but be sure the email software you’re using is HIPAA-compliant. Only email patients who have consented to be contacted via email.

Automated emails can be done well and don’t take as much time as a personalized email. However, a personal touch is always a nice touch and can make a big difference in how your patients perceive you and your clinic.

Emails are great in that they are not limited in terms of text, so you can easily share an example review for patients who don’t know what to write about in their review, along with reminders that they do not need to go too in-depth about their exam, and that they can submit an anonymous review or that you’ll remove their name upon request. Be honest about where their review will be shown and how it will be used, and that reviews are not required but greatly appreciated.

 

3. Offer incentives

Sometimes simply requesting a review isn’t enough to get your clinic a review. People get busy and forget, and after a certain period of time passes, they’re not going to be able to give the best review possible. The best reviews tend to be written on the day of the appointment, when your service and treatment is still fresh in patients’ minds.

Make a review worth your patients’ time with an incentive. An incentive can be a lot of things: it could be a discount on their next exam or entering reviewers into a drawing or raffle for cash, prizes, or a gift card. You could run a contest for the best review, and the winner receives a prize or discount.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box for how you can incentivize patients to write a review for your clinic.

 

4. Respond to all clinic reviews

Responding to each and every single review is a must, even if the review does not do your clinic any favors. In fact, a good response to a negative review can be insightful to prospects and may lead them to choose your clinic for their medical needs.

 

Responding to negative reviews

When you respond to negative reviews, you must acknowledge the issue, even if you don’t think it exists. Acknowledge it anyways.

Apologize. Do not say “we are sorry if this happened.” The “if” goes against the acknowledgment of the issue. Stick to “we are sorry this happened.” It affirms the reviewer’s experience and acknowledges they did not receive the experience they expected from your clinic. If there is any reason why they had an issue, explain what that reason may have been (i.e., “Our nurse had a family emergency and had to leave on short notice, so we were short-staffed when you came in”).

Compensate the reviewer in some way; maybe this means giving them a discount on their next appointment or a free exam. Decide what works best for your clinic and the situation. Depending on the situation, you may wish to have the reviewer discuss matters offline.

While you should take some negative reviews with a grain of salt, it is worth seeing if there are any consistencies or similarities with the content of more middle-of-the-road reviews or smaller complaints in positive reviews. If so, this means you have found an area where your clinic can improve, and you should make changes accordingly. Patients, particularly those who mentioned issues in their reviews, are likely to notice those improvements and feel better knowing they go to a clinic where their issues are not only heard but are listened to as well.

 

Responding to all types of reviews

When responding to any review, do not use a copied and pasted template. To patients and prospects, those cookie-cutter responses do not read as sincere. It takes less than a minute to copy and paste and fill in the blanks and suggests that you do not truly care about your patients’ concerns — that’s definitely not something any medical professional would want prospects or current patients to believe about their clinic!

If you’re able to recall some minor detail about the patient that would not give their personal information or share any potentially identifying information, include that. Never reveal any personal details or information about the patient when you’re responding to publicly posted reviews, regardless of whether or not the reviewer is anonymous. A review response should never, ever be the same.

 

5. Highlight the best reviews for your clinic

Sharing an incredibly positive review on your website’s testimonial page or social media accounts makes more people want to review your clinic’s services and draws the attention of more prospective patients.

To ensure HIPAA compliance, always get permission from patients if you can share a quote from their review on social media. If there is any information in a review that may reveal the identity of a patient, either do not use the review at all or redact that information using ellipses (these 3 little dots: …).

The best way to ensure that your clinic’s patient review policy and strategy are HIPAA-compliant is to work with a HIPAA-trained digital marketing agency. OppGen’s HIPAA-trained team of analysts has worked with a wide variety of medical clinics to great success. Contact us today for more information about our medical marketing strategies and fill out our free digital audit.

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