CH-CH-CH-Changes! These days the only constant online seems to be change.
If you’re currently going at it alone, keeping track of all these changes to the online landscape is likely making your head-spin.
(We feel sorry for your poor neck, but the best treatment for the “new feature disease” is to join us here at InboundMD.)
While we gave up head-spinning a few years ago, we still like to make sure we’re looking in all directions when it comes to being on top of what’s new that can be leveraged in order to deliver results.
Google now showing patients third-party reviews in the Knowledge Graph
One big change that we’ve noticed of late is that Google is now displaying third party patient ratings from websites such as Facebook and Healthgrades in their Knowledge Graph when patients are searching for a specific provider.
Designated as “Reviews Around the Web” the change seems to have happened in late August or early September and is now visible for many healthcare provider searches, especially those in large, competitive, markets such as NYC and San Francisco.
Previously, the Google Knowledge Graph only displayed the practice or providers Google My Business ratings and reviews.
This change does not seem to be part of the Google Possum update we wrote about a few weeks ago, but a continuation of the evolution of the Knowledge Graph.
What is the Google Knowledge Graph?
If you have ever Googled yourself or your practice, you may be familiar with Google’s Knowledge Graph.
It’s the section to the right of the search results, which often shows a practice or providers name, images, location, phone number and Google My Business reviews.
Google introduced the Knowledge Graph years ago as a way to make it easier for patients to access the information about practices and providers they were most often looking for.
The first implementations of the Google Knowledge Graph began with simple things such as answers to commonly asked questions and has since grown to include detailed knowledge about medical practices and their providers.
(In some markets, we have seen Google add the ability to directly book a provider through the Knowledge Graph, if the provider is using a paid ZocDoc or Healthgrades account.)
How can you benefit from this change?
There’s plenty of ways that a healthcare practice can benefit from this recent change, but like most things Google does, there’s little that can be done to influence it.
With including more third party reviews, Google is signaling that practice and provider ratings ARE an important factor when patients make a choice and more so may become an even more important search ranking factor over time.
Since Google is deciding what rating and review websites to show (and on what search queries the Knowledge Graph is displayed), there’s no button you can push or lever you can pull to magically get your third party reviews to appear.
This makes the best way for a medical provider to benefit from these changes to the Knowledge Graph is to make sure you are managing your online presence and constantly generating new patient reviews.
(Note: You may also be able to benefit from your use of ZocDoc and Healthgrades, since Google is including the ability to book a provider directly from the Knowledge Graph if the provider is using these services.)
Where does the Knowledge Graph go from here?
Given the moves over the last two years (and what’s happening in other industries), it’s pretty clear that Google is moving towards a day when a patient can book a health or medical provider directly from a search results page without ever having to go to another website.
That’s right, someday in the future, patients may not need HealthGrades, ZocDoc, your website or their phone to book an appointment – they can just Google you.
Whether this move is good for you and your practice is debatable, since eventually every new successful commercial service introduced by Google eventually comes with a price tag.
Until then, keep an eye on your Knowledge Graph and keep those positive patient reviews flowing!