Online Reviews – Be Afraid

by Larry Emmott on October 21, 2010

in Digital Marketing,Social Media

A random Google of local dentists found these little gems.

  • I do NOT recommend this dentist. We waited for ever
  • The WORST Experience‎‎ I have tried to give this office the benefit of the doubt too many times and I am not even sure why.
  • “Wow…I should have read the reviews before going to this place.

Online user reviews are becoming very powerful. What would you think if you read one the above on Google or Yelp. It is fairly certain you would reconsider going to that dentist; even if you had a positive personal referral. In fact many people think of user reviews as a form of personal referral. It is the Internet equivalent of gossip around the water cooler.

I did not have to hunt for these reviews they are easy to find on almost any dentist that comes up in a local Google search. I also suspect that often the dentist does not even know about the negative reviews.

What can you do if you find a negative review especially one you believe is false or unfair? Unfortunately there is no viable legal response. So far courts have found that web sites such as Google are not liable for user remarks. Another tempting option is to try “sock puppetry”. This means that you pretend to be someone else, a sock puppet, and post positive reviews on your own site. This is sometimes called “Astroturf” meaning false grass roots. Whichever term you use it is a risky business as when you are found out your credibility is destroyed.

The only viable response seems to be to overwhelm negative reviews with positive ones. To be sure when I was gathering the negative examples above I saw plenty of glowing positive reviews as well.

To do this you have to be actively soliciting reviews and posting them to appropriate sites like Google, Yelp or Dr. Oogle. The DoctorBase article linked below also discusses this issue and advises proactive review generation. That does seem to be the only solution but it is not simple.

One final piece of advice…Google yourself and your practice. Check out the reviews already there.

…we tell our doctors on a regular basis – people don’t expect perfection, they do expect honesty. Proactively get positive referrals from your happy patients so that if/when a negative review does pop up it becomes an asset to your credibility…

via DoctorBase – Online Reviews, Internet Marketing, & Word-of-Mouth Marketing Advice for Dentists & Physicians.

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