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Why Google Aggregate Rankings Matter for Healthcare Providers

Google’s star rating is a crucial first impression to those searching for a healthcare provider — and a determinant in your search ranking.

They’re not as shiny as the stars you used to get from your first-grade teacher, but they’re arguably far more valuable: Google’s star rating, those five little stars underneath the name in some search results, is a bright-orange beacon for Google users in search of the highest-quality goods and services.

Scores are automatically aggregated from reviews on Google, Yelp, and similar online review sites, and they make a difference—some companies see as much as a 30-percent increase in click-through with the addition of a five-star rating.

One study suggests that some users see star ratings as an objective assessment of quality—as if they aren’t just based on the reviewer’s opinion.

More than 70 percent of Internet users look to the Web for health information and doctor recommendations a candid five-star review from a complete stranger is the best advertising you can’t pay for. People trusting their health to a new doctor rely on that kind of testimonial for their own peace of mind. So what do you have to do to get those orange stars on your practice’s listing?

Where Do They Come From?


The stars appear automatically on your Google Places listing when you’ve received five reviews.

Google doesn’t award a score above 4.8 until you have at least 10 reviews across the web.

There are two other ways to get orange stars: with a Google Merchant account, if you have individual products or services to sell, or with rich snippets, which are completely outside the scope of this article. Learn about the former from the Google Merchant Center, and ask your webmaster about the latter.

The Local Stack

Not quite.

The stars only appear on Google Local and Maps listings, so to get your stars onto the front page of search results, you need to be in the local three-stack. That means local SEO, and that means optimizing for relevance, distance, and prominence.

In order to make it into the local stack:

  • Make sure your Google My Business profile is complete—include address, phone number, hours of operation, type of practice, specialties, services provided, hospital affiliations, names of key personnel, and any other information that patients might query in their search for a doctor.
  • Local results are heavily weighted in favor of practices in the physical vicinity of the searcher. If you have multiple locations, establish a Google My Business profile for each one. And make sure that when patients submit reviews, they’re reviewing the right location.
  • Follow basic SEO best practices to stay at the top of search results—building links, claiming profiles, creating content, and maintaining a mobile-friendly website.

One extremely valuable contributor to local SEO? Google’s algorithms see the review stars as a sign that you have a legitimate, high-quality practice worthy of prominence in their local search results. Reviews and SEO go hand in hand, and you need to focus on both of them to catch the eye of potential patients.

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