Online reviews are essential for any business – not just restaurants and entertainment venues. More people turn to internet-posted opinions when searching for almost anything, including medical and senior care services. A Software Advice survey found that 94% of patients relied on online reviews when evaluating doctors. Approximately three-quarters of respondents confirmed that they start with reviews when searching for a new medical care provider.
That means that your facility’s online reputation is the first impression you will make with many potential clients. Google is emphasizing that fact with Google Suggested Answers.
Understanding Google Suggested Answers and Google My Business Q&As
Google My Business (GMB) is a free tool designed to help companies manage their online reputation. It allows you to edit how your information appears in searches and on Maps. It also includes a custom FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) option that lets you post questions and answers (Q&As).
This can be a great way to share information and help draw more people to your business. It is important to note that anyone can post an answer to your questions. That means complete strangers, other local business owners, and others with no stake in your operation can respond. That’s why it is so important to pay attention to what’s happening with your GMB account.
Google Suggested Answers have added another layer to the way you are found online by connecting your reviews to your Q&As.
When someone searches for your business and uses the “Ask a Question” feature on Google, they can type in a custom inquiry. As the user is typing their question, Google will begin showing them reviews that it feels may assist in finding an answer. That means that your reviews could be used to not only evaluate your business but also to find information. Your ratings will also appear along with the text, which could be good or bad depending on the reviewer’s individual experience with you.
How Can Google Suggested Answers Help My Senior Care Business?
Google Suggested Answers can be a boon for your senior care business if you have lots of glowing comments and 5-star ratings. The interested person will receive potential answers to their question and see your positive feedback, which could encourage them to follow-through.
Research has found that 91% of people read online feedback and that 84% trust reviews just as much as they would a personal recommendation. Google Suggested Answers increases the already enormous value of your online reputation by turning reviews into a tool for potential clients.
It also helps them discover reviews that speak to the things they care about based on the questions they ask.
Are Google Suggested Answers Slowing Your New Client Growth?
There are some cases where Google Suggested Answers could hurt your new client growth. When a user asks a question and is shown a 5-star review, that can be good for you. However, the same can happen with a 1 or 2-star review. You may have all positive comments and high ratings, but if you have one bad one, it could potentially be shown instead.
The comments will be there, and since there is a good chance that they are related to the user’s question, this could be even worse for you.
For example, if a customer is seeking a care provider for their elderly parent, they may ask how much time is spent with each patient. If someone posted a review stating that the care provider was late seeing them and rushed through the appointment, then there’s a good chance you won’t be seeing that new patient. It is specific information that they felt strongly enough about to search for, and they were able to find at least one instance where the response was not satisfactory.
While some businesses earn the bad reviews they receive, it’s also possible that this could be your only negative review. Perhaps the client wasn’t accurately recounting what happened or maybe it was a one-time situation that has since been remedied. Either way, the potential client read the review and may be swayed to cut you from their short-list of possible care providers.
How To Make Google Suggested Answers Work for You
Making Google Suggested Answers work for you comes down to being proactive. You should approach your online reputation from multiple fronts. You can’t stop bad reviews from being posted, but you can do many things to help counteract them and promote an accurate snapshot of your senior care business. The following suggestions will help you get started:
- Build Your Review List as Much as Possible
The more reviews you have, the better. Too few will lower your chances of internet users seeing a Google Suggested Answer. A longer review list also looks better in the eyes of potential clients. If you’re starting out, you should set an initial goal of 25 reviews. That is the minimum recommended number if you want to get any performance out of your GMB profile. Once you reach that goal, push for the next 25. It should be an ongoing effort to establish yourself as an industry leader and to expand your suggested answer potential.
- Research the Types of Questions That Are Asked on Google
You may have a good grasp of your target demographic and the information they usually want to read. Even if you think you know, you should still spend a little time researching the types of questions that are asked on Google. This could help you find areas you missed or identify current trends.
A good way to start is to search for a business, click their “Ask a Question” button, then begin to type in a question. Don’t post it. Instead, use it to read the reviews that appear. Look at the type of information presented, as well as how it is written. This helps reveal what’s important to potential clients and what your reviews should say to win them over.
- Create or Update Your GMB Custom FAQ
If you haven’t already, create your GMB custom FAQ. Use the information gathered from the step described above to come up with questions that your demographic is likely to ask. You should review any existing Q&As if you did this previously and edit or update as needed. Also keep in mind that in the senior care industry, you may a third-party asking questions on behalf of the patient or client. Consider the types of questions that a family member or caregiver might ask and make sure you cover those as well.
- Encourage Helpful Responses That Answers Popular Questions
You should encourage clients to not only post reviews but to post those that will help your Google Suggested Answers. There are professional ways to do this without sounding pushy. If a client thinks you are demanding a positive review, this could negatively impact their opinion (and it may show in what they post).
For example, if the security of your senior living facility comes up a lot in questions, then you should try to get clients to leave reviews that will help provide an answer. Try wording your review request with something like “If you felt that we provide a safe, secure place for your loved one, please leave a review.” You can use variations depending on who you are asking to leave a review and what you would like the client to mention.
There is no guarantee that the client will respond the way you want or that they will post a review at all. However, putting a specific factor in their mind will increase the chances of the reviewer mentioning that part of your service.
The Power of Your Online Reputation
The power of your online reputation continues to increase. More senior care facilities are finding ways to attract local business through Google and other platforms. If you want to grow your client base, then you need to take control of how you appear on the web. Build up your profiles and make sure accurate information is provided.
It can feel overwhelming, especially while juggling the day-to-day responsibilities of running your company. Senior Care Websites can help with website design, local SEO, visibility, social media, and reputation management. Contact us today to discuss your goals and strengthen your online presence.