Digital Marketing Internet Social Media

What Makes a Good Review – And a Good Review System?

A Guest blog from David Evans of Ceatus Media Group. The opinions expressed are from David Evans not Dr. Larry Emmott. However I believe it is valuable for dentists to get various takes on technology issues in order to make good technology choices.


Reviews now can make or break a dental practice. Negative reviews can drive away otherwise interested patients and a steady stream of positive reviews can generate rapid practice revenue growth. A study by Harvard Business School found that reviews, depending on whether they are trending up or down, can influence revenue by up to 18%.

So, what makes a good review? Data from BrightLocal answers that question for us. The number one factor is the overall star rating, which is not surprising. But second, third and fourth most important are somewhat surprising.

Second and fourth ranked are the sentiment and the detail of the review, respectively. The higher the sentiment and the higher the detail, the more valuable the review. Which means, even a high star rating does not go far enough, if the review does not have good sentiment with details about the experience. A 5-star review that just says, “Great Staff” will not drive patients to you nearly as much as a more lengthy review that details the patient experience and describes the cosmetic or oral health outcomes. The importance may be even higher in elective health care, where patients pay out of pocket and are personally focused on  a high-level aesthetic return.

The third most important factor about reviews is recency, which means that a steady stream of freshly minted reviews is needed.

What Type of System Drives Good Reviews?

A review system that drive streams of positive reviews and then uses these reviews to build your practice revenue, must have specific attributes.

First, the system must be able to easily send reviews via email or text. The best systems allow the staff to ask for the review, at the appropriate time after treatment, and then immediately send the request. This encourages 5-star reviews with great sentiment and details about the personal patient experience. Impersonal systems that automatically send simple review solicitations immediately after each patient visit may be easy, but typically generate shorter reviews with little text and no sentiment.

Since recency is so important, a good system also needs to automatically stream recent reviews, from all reviews sites, to your website and social media platforms. This allows patients wishing to read recent reviews to easily find them on your website. The worst thing is for a patient who is ready to make a buying decision leaving your site to look for recent reviews. The patient then gets caught up on Yelp or Vitals looking at not only your reviews, but also  those of every other dentist in town — and then never returns to your website to make contact.

It is also important that the review system solicit across a broad range of third-party reviews sites, including Yelp, RateMDs, Vitals, HealthGrades and others. These third-party sites have more credibility in the eyes of consumers and are seen as independent endorsements. Systems that create reviews without the logo or brand of well-recognized review sites, have little value. And, survey data from Ceatus Media Group, derived specifically from patients seeking dental care, shows that different consumers have very different value impressions of the various review sites. For example, some prospective dental patients consider Yelp and Facebook reviews to be very important when making decisions about oral care procedures and which dentist will perform them, while many others prefer to read reviews on health care-related sites, like RateMDs or Vitals, before making buying decisions. This means that your review system needs to be able to solicit across a range of review sites that appeal to all consumers. Unfortunately, many of the available review systems can only solicit 2 or 3 sites.

And finally, it is important to remember that review sites often rank high in the results of searches for dentists’ names and practice names. It is critical to be aware of which review sites rank for the name, and to target reviews for those sites so those high star ratings will show up in Google search results.

Questions to Ask When Buying a Review System

Q: How many review sites does it target?

A: 3 or fewer is a problem.


Q: Does the system have the ability to solicit new reviews via text or email on a wide variety of review sites?

A: It has to be easy and efficient for office staff to quickly and easily send a personalized text or email invite to each patient at the strategic time, and to allow the patient to quickly and easily be directed to a variety of review sites (4 or more) where the dentist needs them most.


Q: Does the system have the ability to monitor reviews on a wide selection of review sites?

A: 3 or fewer is a problem.


Q: Does the system automatically publish recent reviews to the practice website and highlight positive reviews on the website to help with conversion? And if so, for how many review sites?

A: Publishing is a must. 4 or fewer sites is a problem. Preferably at least 7 to 10 review sites should be included in the stream.


Q: Do the published reviews have the logo and brand of the well-known review sites, or only of the review system’s site?

A; If reviews are created and/or published on the practice website without the logo or brand of the well-recognized independent review sites — like Google, Yelp, Facebook, HealthGrades, RateMDs, Vitals, or MedCompare — then they have less value in the eyes of consumers.


Q: Can the system easily change which review sites to target and solicit?

A: If not, then that is a problem. Since review sites rank for the dentist’s name, it is important to be able to easily select those high-ranking sites to increase the star rating that are visible on the Google search results. After the overall star rating of one site has been upgraded, then it is best to target another.