Veterinary reviews and reputation management now factor much more heavily in veterinary practice marketing plans, according to our 2023 State of Veterinary Marketing report. Just under two thirds of surveyed practices (61%) are planning to cultivate more client reviews in 2023 or pursue the same level of vet reviews and reputation management. Why the shift from just a year earlier?
More practices now understand that while word of mouth will always be important to veterinary marketing, word of mouth will always have limited reach in an online world versus the wide reach and influence of online reviews.
To cultivate more client reviews, there are many review platforms that practices can use, but here’s why practices should place Yelp and Google at the top of vet reviews and reputation management plans.
Understanding Key Review Platforms: Yelp and Google
(Image Source: Yoyofu Media)
As a one-stop local platform for people to leave business reviews, Yelp takes first place in its niche in the U.S., with more than 178 million visitors each month across desktop, mobile, and app versions. Receiving 26,830 new reviews per minute, Yelp ranks second only to Google as the place people choose for reviews. So, why does Yelp attract so many visitors and why should veterinary practices use Yelp for vet reviews and reputation management?
Though Google holds top spot as the most-used review platform:
- 45% of users favor Yelp as their source of reviews. (ReviewTrackers)
- 97% of users view Yelp as reliable. (Yelp)
- Just over half of Yelp users (51%) conduct some sort of transaction within 24 hours of a site visit and 90% do so within a week. (Search Engine Land)
Number of Reviews
According to Invesp, 50% of people require either 4-6 or 7-10 online reviews before trusting a business, and Yelp gives users the volume of reviews they need. In 2021 a total of 244 million reviews had been submitted to Yelp (a 9% increase over the previous year), and by the end of 2022, there were 265 million reviews, which naturally includes veterinarian reviews on Yelp.
According to Yelp:
- 25% of users are age 18-34.
- 35% are age 35-54.
- 39% are age 55 or older.
Though pet owners fall into all these age categories, Millennials (people currently age 27 to 42) represent the largest share of pet owners in the U.S. (33%) and this age group represents the second-biggest user demographic on Yelp. Moreover, Millennials pet owners are willing to spend more on veterinary care and pet services compared to other generations, and 78% of pet owners age 25-34 have pet insurance compared to those over age 55.
Little of this, of course, explains why so many people to use Yelp. Yet considering the demographics and the connected numbers, it’s a big reason why practices should use Yelp for vet reviews and reputation management. That’s where prospective clients are going.
In summary, veterinarians should use Yelp for client reviews and reputation management because it offers a powerful platform to showcase their services, engage with clients, build trust, and improve their overall online presence. By leveraging the benefits of Yelp, veterinarians can attract more clients, retain existing ones, and continuously enhance the quality of their services.
(Image Source: Revenue Jump)
Google remains the top review site for potential customers seeking information about a business. Why does Google reign supreme and why should veterinary practices use Google for vet reviews and reputation management?
Google is the most trusted review platform across all industries. According to BrightLocal, 87% of people in 2022 used Google reviews (through Maps and Search) before making decisions about a business, and this trust has been growing. In 2020, 65% of people used and trusted Google reviews. One year later (2021), that number jumped to 81%.
With respect to pet care, a 2023 local consumer survey by BrightLocal showed Google reviews are particularly important to pet owners.
- 40% of people said online reviews were very important when making decisions about pet care services, which included veterinary care, grooming, and walkers/boarding.
- 32% said online reviews were important.
- 19% said online reviews were slightly important or not important.
Number of Reviews
According to ReviewTracker, Google holds the largest number of reviews—a whopping 73% of all online reviews—and pet services businesses have an average of 44 reviews (above the overall average of 39 Google reviews for businesses across all industries). This speaks to two things:
- Pet owners are motivated to leave Google reviews for vets and other pet services businesses.
- Potential veterinary clients can generally find all the reviews they need when making decisions about a veterinary care provider.
Though Google review users encompass all age groups, Millennial and Gen Z users tend to be more active in leaving reviews and engaging with online platforms, and as mentioned earlier, Millennials (people currently age 27 to 42) represent the largest share of pet owners in the U.S. (33%), which makes Google a prime platform to connect with them. Yet Gen Z (people born between 1997 and 2012) has steadily grown as a pet-owning demographic, which also supports the importance of veterinary Google business reviews as part of vet reviews and reputation management plans.
According to a 2023 Pet Food Industry report, Gen Z steadily grew from 11% of the pet-owning population in 2018 to 16% in 2022. They’re the next generation of potential veterinary clients, and right now according to Packaged Facts, they “rely heavily on vet guidance for pet product purchases,” particularly around the subject of pet food.
Only 17% of Gen Z pet owners trust the information they receive about commercial pet food. They want to ensure an optimal diet for their pets, and many turn to veterinary practices for guidance and/or direct food purchases. So, Google reviews for vets that include mention of specific products and/or services that your veterinary practice offers can go a long way in establishing and building long-term relationships—and practice revenue—with clients more likely than older pet owners to seek out veterinary relationships.
>> Save time collecting client reviews with the vet reviews and reputation management tools and resources in our Veterinary Client Reviews Kit, free to download here.
The Impact of Online Reviews on Veterinary Practices
If you’re just tuning in, let’s recap the main highlights of how Yelp and Google reviews can specifically benefit veterinary practices:
- Google (with 73% of all online reviews) remains the top review site for potential customers seeking information about a business, and Yelp ranks second with 178 million visitors each month.
- Both platforms are highly trusted, and both contain more than enough reviews to help people make decisions about a business.
- User demographics of both platforms represent key client demographics for veterinary practices. Google reviews are particularly important to Millennial pet owners when making decisions about pet care services, and are important to Gen Z pet owners, who value veterinary guidance.
- Just over half of Yelp users (51%) conduct some sort of transaction within 24 hours of a site visit.
- Roughly 87% of people use Google reviews before making decisions about a business.
So, by encouraging clients to leave Google and Yelp reviews of their experience with your practice, you get in front of more potential clients on trusted platforms that give them the proof and information they need to choose your practice, and there’s an added benefit in cultivating more online reviews.
Though businesses generally don’t think of online reviews as an SEO factor, online reviews have been identified as having a significant impact on local SEO and website ranking in local search results.
“Google and other search engines,” writes Search Engine Journal, “certainly appear to reward businesses with higher volumes of positive reviews by placing them in the coveted Map Pack at the top of organic local search results.”
Also known as the Snack Pack, the Map Pack references the Google map listings that appear above organic listings and directly beneath pay-per-click ads (PPC), which is prime real estate at the top of search results. According to Search Engine Journal, Map Pack results appear in search results over 30% of the time and listings in the Map Pack receive roughly 70% of organic search traffic. So, by encouraging online reviews, you help increase discoverability of your practice website in organic searches while strengthening the success of vet reviews and reputation management plans.
Is there a downside to online reviews?
Negative reviews are seen as the downside. People post them for all kinds of reasons explained in our blog Understanding Why Clients Post Negative Reviews Online. So, practices often shy away from cultivating online reviews. Yet less-than-desirable reviews have an upside. (Yes, you heard right.)
Negative reviews help practices identify patterns and blind spots to become even better practices. For example, if multiple clients report being kept waiting beyond scheduled appointment times, the feedback provides an opportunity to examine and improve how appointments are being scheduled.
Negative reviews also elicit trust from prospective clients.
According to Reevoo:
- 95% of people suspect that reviews are censored or fake if they don’t see any negative ones.
- 65% of people trust reviews more when they include positive and negative ones.
In other words, negative reviews aren’t the end of the world. It really comes down to how you respond to them. To help with this, read our blog How to Deal with Negative Online Reviews for Your Vet Practice.
Navigating Online Review Platforms: Yelp
To set up a Yelp profile:
- Go to the Yelp website.
- Click on “Claim your business” under Yelp for Business.
- Search for your practice. Enter your practice name and location in the search bar. If your practice is already listed on Yelp, it should appear in the search results. Click on your business listing to proceed.
- Log in or create an account. If you already have a Yelp account, log in using your credentials. If you don’t have one, you’ll need to create a Yelp account to claim and manage your business profile.
- Verify your relationship to the business. You can choose from options like “I’m the owner,” “I’m an employee,” or “I’m a fan.” Select the appropriate option and proceed.
- Verify your business details, such as the address, phone number, and other essential information. Ensure that the information is accurate and up to date.
- Choose a method of verification. Yelp offers various methods to verify your business ownership. You can choose to receive a phone call to your business phone number or receive a postcard by mail to the business address with a verification code. Select your preferred method.
- Complete the verification process. If you choose the phone call option, you’ll receive a call with a verification code that you’ll need to enter on Yelp. If you choose the postcard option, the postcard will be sent to your business address with the verification code. Enter the code on Yelp to complete the verification process.
- Customize your profile. Once your business is verified, you can access and customize your Yelp profile. Add information such as business hours, website, photos, and a business description to make your profile attractive to potential customers.
Be sure to manage your reviews. Monitor and respond to client reviews regularly. Engage with your clients by responding to both positive and negative reviews professionally and promptly.
Navigating Online Review Platforms: Google
Image Source: https://www.wufdesign.co.uk/google-business-profile/
1. Complete Your Business Information
Enabling Google reviews as part of your vet reviews and reputation management plans involves setting up and verifying your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), a free tool provided by Google that allows businesses to manage their online presence, including reviews. Here’s how to enable Google reviews:
- Sign into Google Business Profile and sign in with your Google account. If you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to create one.
- If you haven’t already added your business to Google Business Profile, click on the Manage Now button and enter the name and address of your business. If your business is already listed, claim it as the owner.
- Verify your business. To enable Google reviews, you must verify that you are the owner or authorized representative of the business. Google will send you a verification code to your business address by mail or offer other verification options, such as phone or email. Follow the instructions to complete the verification process.
- Set up your business profile. Once your business is verified, you can access your Google Business Profile dashboard. Add and update information about your business, including business hours, website URL, phone number, and a brief description.
- Enable reviews. By default, Google reviews are automatically enabled once your business has been verified and your Google Business Profile is active. Users can start leaving reviews for your business once it’s visible on Google Maps and in search results.
Click here for additional Google Business Profile optimization tips.
Be sure to manage your reviews and respond to client reviews regularly. By actively managing your Google My Business listing and engaging with client reviews, you can improve your practice’s online presence and attract more potential clients.
The Ethics of Online Reviews
Foremostly in vet reviews and reputation management plans, veterinarians should prioritize patient care and ensure client confidentiality is maintained when seeking reviews. Reviews should be voluntary and unbiased, with no incentives offered for positive feedback.
Additionally, veterinarians must avoid coercion or pressure on clients to leave reviews. Transparency is key, and veterinarians should provide clear information on review platforms where clients can share their experiences.
By following these ethical guidelines, veterinarians can foster genuine and trustworthy client reviews that contribute positively to their reputation and practice.
Effective Review Management Strategies
Effective vet reviews and reputation management strategies involve how you choose to respond. While it’s tempting to only respond to positive reviews, responding to both positive and negative reviews can have a greater positive impact.
According to BrightLocal’s 2023 Local Consumer Review Survey, 34% of people were highly likely to use a business that responds to all reviews, positive or negative, and 54% were fairly likely. When businesses choose one side or the other, the survey numbers dramatically drop:
- Only 10% of people were highly to use a business that only responded to negative reviews, and 50% of people were fairly likely.
- Just 15% of people were highly to use a business that only responded to positive reviews, and 40% of people were fairly likely.
Effective review management strategies for veterinary practices also involve asking for client reviews, and some methods tend to be more effective than others. According to BrightLocal:
- 34% of people are more likely to leave an online review when asked by email.
- 33% of people are more likely if asked in person.
- 32% are more likely if asked on a receipt or invoice.
- 31% are more likely if asked on social media.
- 27% are more likely if asked on a device inside a business location (e.g., on an iPad).
For tips on how to ask for client reviews, read 5 Tips to Get More Online Reviews.
So, whether managing veterinary clinic Yelp reviews or veterinary Google business reviews, an effective vet reviews and reputation management strategy involves asking for reviews, veterinary review tracking, and responding to both positive and negative reviews.
>> Save time collecting client reviews with the tools and resources in our Veterinary Client Reviews Kit, free to download here.
Review Platforms Beyond Yelp and Google
Though Yelp and Google are top platforms for veterinary practices to cultivate client reviews, there are other platforms relevant to vet reviews and reputation management where practices can create business listings and encourage client reviews. Here are three review platforms beyond Yelp and Google for vet reviews and reputation management, including pros and cons:
- Pros: Manta (free to use) is a well-established directory used by 35 million businesses in 149 countries. Rather than displaying top customer reviews for a business right away, Manta searches organize results based on keywords and relevance to a user’s geographic location, and includes contact info so users can quickly connect with a business.
- Cons: Manta is a marketing company focused on selling businesses digital marketing services, with no specific experience in the veterinary industry. Though business listings on third-party sites like Manta have been identified as having a positive impact on local SEO and website ranking in search results, some businesses question how many potential customers may use Manta to find customer reviews when Google handles over 90% of all search queries worldwide and displays results based on keywords and relevance to a user’s geographic location.
Facebook Ratings & Reviews
- Pros: Anyone logged into Facebook can read reviews of a business and post a recommendation and review. They simply click the Rating link on the left-hand side of a Facebook Business Page, click a Yes/No recommendation button, and leave a review. Visitors can also click the Reviews tab. To collect reviews on Facebook, all you need to do is set up a Facebook Business Page and go to Settings to turn Recommendations on or off.
- Cons: Page owners cannot delete individual reviews (even fake ones), though page admins can report recommendations that don’t follow Facebook’s community standards. Also, a page may not display a rating if enough recommendations haven’t been received, and when someone recommends a business, they can select the audience they want to share it with. If someone selects Friends as the audience, only that person’s friends will see the recommendation, and only recommendations shared publicly are included in a page’s overall rating.
- Pros: Over two-million businesses use Foursquare to collect reviews and connect with customers. With over 55 million active monthly users, Foursquare (like Manta) delivers search results based on keywords and relevance to a user’s geographic location. In total, Foursquare has data on more than 105 million places of interest across 190 countries and 50 territories, and its free to use.
- Cons: Foursquare doesn’t have as many reviews compared to other review sites. According to BrightLocal, Foursquare has steadily seen the lowest average number of new reviews per business for years, versus the steadily escalating number of reviews on Yelp and Google. So, Foursquare no longer competes as a review platform and instead focuses on providing accurate location data. While this may help a prospective client find a veterinary clinic, Foursquare’s nominal amounts of reviews may not be enough to tell them why they should choose a clinic.
Cultivating more online reviews helps practices attract more potential clients and stay competitive, even if practices receive the odd negative review, and there are many review platforms that practices can use. Yet practices would do well to place Yelp and Google at the top of vet reviews and reputation management plans, and reaching out to clients to ask for reviews through channels they prefer involves methods and systems practices already use and understand, including email, personal conversations with clients, and social media.
The challenge for busy practices to do all this is naturally time. To save time and simplify the process, download our free Veterinary Client Reviews Kit here.
Available for a limited time, our free kit includes:
- 5 Ways Good Client Reviews Help Your Practice—how reviews help you get new clients, strengthen client relationships, and serve practice efficiency.
- How to Ask Different Pet Owners for Client Reviews—a breakdown of the four different types of pet owners and recommended approaches when asking them for reviews.
- How and When to Ask for Client Reviews, including the best time to ask for a review and five tips for encouraging client reviews.
In alignment with the third kit component, we also included an email template that you can customize and send to clients after an appointment, because we know you’re busy.
See more LifeLearn’s Online Reviews Content
- Veterinary Reviews and Reputation Management: Navigating Yelp to Google and More (➜ Currently Reading)
- How To Deal With Negative Online Reviews For Your Vet Practice
- How to Manage Online Reputation for Veterinarians
- Using Your Online Reputation to Educate
- Understanding Why Clients Post Negative Reviews Online
- The Benefits of Negative Reviews
- Are You Missing This One Crucial Step When Asking for Online Reviews?