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Online Brand Reputation Becomes Even More Critical for Veterinary Practices

Online Brand Reputation Becomes Even More Critical for Practices as Customers’ Online Behaviors Change and Search Engine Results Rely More on Online Brand Reputation

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 11.22.06 AMHow many marketing resources are you allocating to Yelp, Yellowpages, Google +, Yahoo Local, and all of those other sites that allow users to leave reviews about your practice? How many resources are you allocating towards Facebook and Twitter? If you are allocating more resources towards social media than towards online brand reputation reviews, you are misallocating your marketing resources. carried out a market study that included veterinary practices and found that Facebook was far less important than Yelp, Yellowpages, Google +, etc., for search engine rankings and for influencing consumers.

New studies have shed light on the growing importance of positive reviews that are extremely relevant to veterinary practice marketers. Are you prepared to seize these opportunities to draw in new clients through online brand reputation?

Changes in Consumer Behavior on the Internet are Making Online Brand Reputation Even More Critical for Veterinary Practices.

BrightLocal, an Internet research firm, revealed insights from their Local Consumer Review Survey that demonstrated an increase in consumers relying on online reviews for choosing local businesses. Their survey found that 85% of consumers say they read reviews for local businesses online prior to making decisions on choosing businesses. The study also found that consumers are making decisions about local businesses in a shorter period of time from online reviews and are reading fewer reviews before formulating a final opinion of a business. This means that local businesses need to manage their online brand reputation more closely because a few negative reviews on page one of Google Plus or Yelp will likely turn away potential customers.

The study also found that customers are becoming more trusting of online reviews and are more likely to use them to form opinions about local businesses. 79% of consumers reported to trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation (up from 72%) and the number of people that are giving “word of mouth” referrals to friends about businesses are on the decline. “Word of mouth” referrals are going digital. Are you proactively encouraging your clients to document their opinions?


Say goodbye to Google Maps as you know it and hello to a new user interface that provides results based upon online brand reputation.  Although the new Google Maps is still in beta, I was able to get my hands on it. Unlike the current Google Maps where results are displayed both on a map and on a list in the left sidebar with pagination, the new Google Maps has no left navigation.  Although the old Google maps used to rank practices partly on their online brand reputation, now the rankings are visual. Practices with a better online brand reputation get larger pins. Without the left related search column, one of the only differentiating factors that consumers will have to make decisions are the amount and quality of a practice’s reviews.

The size difference of the pins is dramatic. If you have a poor or non-existent online brand reputation, your pin reflects that with a three-times smaller, less ornate pin. Furthermore, when the pin is “moused-over” the results are underwhelming when a practice has no reviews.  If a practice even has few reviews, the star rating does not appear because Google has determined the star rating non-significant due to sample size.

You might ask, what about mobile devices since that is what most people are using now to find local businesses? The impact of online brand reputation reviews is even greater. The practice with the best reviews in the area pops-up with their reviews and the ability to navigate to that practice, call that practice, share the practice, save the practice, view photos of the practice, visit the practice website, end more. You better make sure your Google + Page is optimized!

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Yelp was one of the first companies to give more weight to “Power Reviewers” and now Google has implemented giving more weight to what they call “Top Reviewers” in the community. Listings displayed by Top Reviewers allow the consumer to discover new places based off of other’s recommendations that are known to have reliable opinions in the community about businesses. Businesses that have been reviewed by people in your Google + circles will also be displayed – they are crowdsourcing results based off of your personal relationships. In fact, the maps are personalized to the user – the results are also based off of the user’s search history. The takeaway message is that you better optimize your Google + page and convert your Google + listing to a Google + page if you haven’t done so already because that will make the page where people leave reviews much more inviting.

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