Fifteen years ago, patients received dentist referrals from loved ones. Now, potential patients can form an opinion about your practice after reading reviews on Yelp and Google+. Since you can leave feedback online anonymously, some people will use that to their advantage and post information that is false or misleading. Although it is tempting for business owners to ignore bad reviews and only focus on the positive ones, online reputation management is very important when you are a dentist.
Why You Should Be Proactive
There are many reasons why you should proactively manage your practice's online reputation. Besides bringing in new patients, great online reviews can increase your practice's overall website traffic and conversions. Online reviews can influence your website's search engine optimization (SEO) because Google ranks content from review websites higher in their proprietary algorithm than other websites. As a result, Yelp and other popular review websites often show up within the top ten results of search engines.
How to Be Proactive
One way you proactively take charge of your online reputation is to encourage your patients to rate their experience on Yelp or Google + as soon as they head home from an appointment. You can also add links to online review sites on your website to make it easier for patients to leave feedback.
How to Fight Harmful Yelp Reviews
First, go to Yelp and make sure the information listed under your practice is correct. If you noticed a patient left unfair feedback you can counter it with a public response. Just remember to stay professional and do not blame the patient outright. People will always pay attention to how you respond to complaints online.
Competitors may also try to post negative reviews to sabotage your practice. According to a recent article, up to 20% of Yelp reviews are fake. Signs of a fake Yelp account include people who only leave one-star reviews and have only posted one or two reviews.
If you suspect that your business has been a target of a fake or unfair review, you can email Yelp at email@example.com using your existing Yelp account email address and ask them to remove or flag the review. You should also give a complete explanation of why you think they should remove it from their site.
How to Fight Harmful Google Reviews
A negative Google review can have a big impact, especially if there are not many reviews for your company. To create a Google account and leave a review for a Google + Local business listing you must provide a name, birth date, and gender. Since the information isn't verified by Google, a person can make up their personal information and publish a fake review.
According to Google’s Legal Removal Requests page, you can reply to the review under your "Google My Business" account, flag the review and hope Google will remove it, or pursue legal action.
If you think you are the victim of a false and defamatory review, you can subpoena Google for information on the person who created the post. Even if the information provided by the person is false, Google can give you the internet protocol (IP) address used to create the account. Each IP address can be traced back to the person's location and identity.
Your practice's online ratings can have long-term consequences. Harmful reviews can potentially jeopardize your dental practice's reputation and damage your website's SEO. When you proactively manage your reputation and remove fake or defaming reviews, it will leave more room for honest and constructive patient feedback.