The reward of cultivating a healthy set of reviews on various review sites is a competitive advantage that you simply can’t ignore any longer.

By Susan Saldibar

What happens when someone Googles “assisted living [name of your city]”? Is there a review on your community? How many reviews? How many stars?

Or don’t you know? You should, according to Jason McCloud, Senior Vice President of Digital Marketing for SageAge, a Senior Housing Forum partner. Here’s why:

  • Consumers are relying heavily on online reviews.

  • No reviews at all can be perceived as just as bad as a negative review.

  • Reviews with multiple stars can help boost your Google SEO page rank.

  • The less you solicit reviews, the more edge your competitors have.

But if you’re buying into one or more of the following misconceptions, you’ll have a hard time getting a review program off the ground. Jason has shared some insight on each:

Misconception #1: Too much hassle for customers; they need to join a review site before they can submit a review.

It’s true that several sites do require membership to verify authenticity. But that is not a good reason to avoid them, Jason tells us. “First of all, many people are already members of Yelp and other popular review sites. And, with a younger more tech savvy group of adult children emerging, they are less averse to inputting their email and creating a password before writing a review.”

And, there are new review engines that make it easier for clients to leave a review. Tools like Feefo, for instance, take the process of asking clients for reviews off your back. Feed them a spreadsheet of names and email addresses and they will send out the queries and tabulate responses on your behalf.  A quick and easy link takes the client right to the review; no registration required. SageAge uses Feefo on behalf of their clients. It’s simple and it works.

Misconception #2: Between APFM, and Senior Reviews…they’ve got us covered.

Third party aggregators can provide a good platform for reviews but you have to be smart about how you use them. First, recognize that your community is one of many listed on their pages. So you need to squeeze the value out of that listing. One way to do that is to repost the reviews from their pages to yours and put them in a prominent place where they will be seen. But, Jason warns, be sure not to provide any links back to the third party site. That will give the aggregator the SEO advantage; not you.

“The bottom line is that the independent review sites, such as Yelp, Feefo and Google+, simply yield more weight and authority with the search engines,” says Jason. “So the more reviews you get on these sites, the better. Plus, it just might make your community show up in a search before your competitors,” he adds.

Misconception #3: Encouraging reviews just invites bad ones.

First of all, bad reviews are going to happen. But that’s a bad reason to avoid soliciting them altogether. Most consumers expect to see a bad review occasionally. And everyone knows, it’s not so much about the bad review; it’s about how the management team responds to it that counts.

But, like everything else, you need to stay on top of it. There are tools that help you keep track of review sites and will alert you when a negative review pops up that you need to take care of.  

Soliciting and managing reviews takes time and effort, however. Because of that, many senior living communities are outsourcing the entire process to third party experts who stay on top of all the best practices. A good provider, such as SageAge, can cost about the same as using a site like Feefo. And they will know how to leverage reviews towards higher page rankings in the search engines. They also know how to transform a less-than-stellar review into a positive experience for the customer and the community.

“Review sites are here to stay and they are holding more and more weight,” says Jason. “Yes, there are a few hurdles to overcome to create a smooth running review and reputation management program. But the reward of cultivating a healthy set of reviews on various review sites is a competitive advantage that you simply can’t ignore any longer.”

For more information on how to get started with review sites, please visit the SageAge website by clicking the button below: