Local SEO behavioral signals

This is the sixth part of our Local SEO series that focuses on optimizing your dental website for search engines. You can view the other posts here:

  1. Local Search for Dentists
  2. Google My Business for Dentists
  3. SEO for Dentist Websites
  4. Inbound Links for Dental Websites
  5. Citations for Dental Practices
  6. Local SEO and Social Media For Dentists
  7. Local Search for Dentists and Behavioural Signals

Dental practices need online reviews for several reasons, including:

  1. Local search engine rankings
  2. Converting searchers into website visitors and new patients
  3. Online reputation management

A positive online review profile for your dental practice is one of the most important marketing priorities for a dental office. A good online reputation will help with your search engine optimization, conversions, and new patient acquisition. Because this article is part of our Local SEO series, we’ll focus on the SEO benefits of reviews for dental practices.New dental patients care a lot about online reviews. 

Medical reviews are the second most read type of review after restaurant and hotel reviews. Because new patients place so much importance on reviews, Google feels it’s extremely important to display them. Reviews are also a very useful indicator of the popularity of a dental practice. Verified reviews are also difficult to fake, unlike inbound links and citations. As a result, Local SEO experts consider reviews to be a critical piece of Google’s local search algorithm. It is clear that Google prioritizes dental practices with great reviews and, if a searcher uses a common search term like “best dentist”, Google will only display the practices with the top rated reviews in their city.

Reviews are extremely valuable to a dental practice for a couple of reasons: not only do new patients research and compare practices before choosing one, they also tend to click on the top-rated practices more often in Google. Google uses Click Through Rate (CTR) as a factor to rank websites, so the more people that click that on a website in the search results, the better it ranks. These practices will attract more website visitors who turn into new patients. These new patients will also leave positive reviews. As part of this positive feedback loop, visibility and online reputation will continue to improve. Because of this cycle, dental practices with great reviews at the top of the search engine listings will enjoy ever improving rankings, visibility, and new patients. Acquiring reviews is clearly an important and valuable priority for dental practices.

How Google uses reviews to rank dental practices

There are several ways Google considers reviews in its ranking of dental practices. Google wants to show the most relevant searches to their users. This means they want to show the best, most popular dental practices at the top of the search. We know that Google uses a number of factors to differentiate which review profiles are important. 

Number of reviews

The number of reviews a practice receives is important to Google. Google assumes that the most popular dental practices will receive the most reviews. Practices can stand out in Google by implementing processes to generate more reviews from their patients on important review sites.

The different review factors include:

  • Number of reviews
  • Content in the reviews
  • Variety of review sources
  • Overall star or number rating
  • Status of reviewers
  • Speed and consistency of reviews

Content in reviews

The written content in the review can also help rank practices for certain keywords. For example, if reviews contain keywords like ”dental implants”, you will be more likely to show up for those keywords. Google also analyzes reviews for positive and negative sentiment. Positive sentiment can help improve rankings. The most trustworthy reviews and testimonials are usually unscripted but when you are encouraging people to leave reviews you can prompt useful reviews with questions like, “what treatment was performed and what was the outcome?” This can help with keywords and sentiment.

Variety of review sites

Google analyzes third-party review sites and considers them as a factor in ranking. It’s important to gather reviews on all the important websites for dental practices. We will provide you with a list later in this article. Reviews on third party sites can have a strong impact.

Overall rating (stars or numbers)

Google seems to value the content (sentiment and keywords) and volume of the reviews more than the actual star rating, as long as the rating is not very low. New patients do tend to click on the highest ranking practices more often, and this can improve rankings. Google will also only show the top-rated practices if a searcher uses a term like “best dentist”.

Status of the reviewer

Google Local Guides and Elite Yelpers tend to be more trusted by the sites, so they may offer extra influence when trust is an issue with reviews. Yelp reviews are less common, harder to get, and more filtered so Elite Yelper’s reviews may have a stronger influence.

Speed and consistency

The speed and tempo that reviews are left at also seem to influence rankings. Popular practices tend to get a steady flow of reviews and Google may rank them better. You want to avoid getting large numbers of reviews all at once, such as from an email campaign, as this may indicate to Google that they were solicited. Regular flow is the best practice.

Best places for dental practice reviews

We’ve compiled a list of the most effective places for dental practices to get reviews. There may also be several local or more popular review sites depending on where you live. We’ll show you how to search for them.

The most important standard consumer sites that you should definitely solicit reviews for are:

  • Google Local/Maps
  • Facebook
  • Yelp

The most important dental industry sites include:

There may also be some local review sites that you should try to monitor. Try doing a search for [YOUR PRACTICE NAME] [CITY] [REVIEWS] to find any of the sites where your practice might be listed. Sites like Three Best Rated can be popular in some cities and worth monitoring.

Getting started with an online review strategy

We can confidently say that all dental practices need to implement a review acquisition process as soon as possible. Acquiring new reviews is essential for your online reputation, attracting new patients, and SEO. Your competitors are doing it and the practices that get a head start will reap the most benefits. 

We use one of the best online review generation software systems called Proven Local. At firstdentist.com, we believe reviews are so important for your SEO that we include it with all of our SEO packages. We’ve seen a number of our clients’ websites improve their ranking and conversions simply by improving their online reviews.

How to get more online reviews

The first step is to decide how to engage patients with proactive requests to generate new reviews. Use software that utilizes emails or texts to send out an easy-to-use request message. Many systems can be difficult for patients to use. firstdentist.com can recommend the most user-friendly systems. The system should also allow you to generate reviews you can use on your website through a widget or other embeddable media. The software should also be able to refer patients to third-party sites like Google, Facebook, Yelp, Healthgrades, and other important websites.

You want to be slow but steady when you are collecting reviews. Don’t just solicit your entire patient list. Big review blasts are not advisable because Google monitors the velocity of reviews and prefers consistent, steady additions. Yelp will also flag large numbers of new reviews in a short period of time and filter them.

Yelp is universally disliked by most small business owners because of both their tendency to filter reviews and their policy against soliciting reviews. You don’t want to confuse Yelp or Google into thinking you are soliciting or purchasing reviews.

Some business owners with only a few reviews often consider purchasing reviews to get started. Purchasing reviews on Fiverr or from fake reviewers is very dangerous and can lead to permanent and disastrous long-term consequences in the search engines. Never do this.

Consider finding patients who already have an active Yelp account with approved reviews and ask them to leave a review for you. Use the Find Friends feature in your personal Yelp account.

Do not incentivize your review generation process. Incentivizing reviews is not only against the policies of most review sites, it’s also against the FTC and ADA guidelines. Practices can get into legal trouble for pursuing this type of strategy.

How to manage online reviews

The software you choose should also monitor reviews so you can respond quickly. It’s important to acknowledge positive reviews and respond to negative reviews. Doing nothing is not a smart option.Almost all dental practices will receive negative reviews, and they aren’t necessarily a bad thing.We’ve written a blog about How Dentists Can Respond to Negative Reviews.

It’s one of our most popular blog posts, so make sure you check it out. The most important thing you can do is respond in a way that reassures potential new patients who are reading the negative review.

Using reviews

There are several ways you can use online reviews. If you are using review software like Proven Local, you can embed the review display widget on your website. The keyword rich content from the reviews assists with SEO and improves website user trust.

If you obtain the permission of your patient you can also add their external reviews to your site by copying and pasting the review. Google has recently confirmed that they don’t consider this to be duplicate content and do not penalize sites for adding review content.

The future of reviews

Reviews are a very important and valuable source of information for patients looking for a new dentist. Google knows this and they also have procedures in place to prevent and block fake reviews. They can reliably use this information to gauge the popularity of a dental practice. This makes it a strong and reliable ranking signal. We believe in the power of reviews at firstdentist.com and we think Google will continue to use them as a ranking factor for the foreseeable future.

Get started now

Dental practices receive multiple benefits when they put a review system in place. The benefits include improved online reputation, improved rankings, and better conversion rates from search. Contact firstdentist.com for a free review of your online reputation and search engine rankings.


  • The number, rating, and consistency of reviews have an important impact on your Local SEO rankings.
  • Try to get reviews on as many different sites as you can. Consumer directories, medical directories, and local review sites are all important.
  • Review your competitors to find out where they are acquiring reviews.
  • Review software like Proven Local has multiple benefits for practices, including monitoring, responding to, and improving review acquisition.
  • Use testimonial widgets to improve on-site SEO.

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