Leonard F. Tau, DMD, talks about improving your practice’s web presence, generating positive reviews, and how to handle negative reviews.
Q: I have more reviews than other practices. Why am I not ranked as high on Google search results?
A: Getting a high number of reviews for your practice is only one of 2 important parts of ranking high on Google search results. Beyond reviews, it’s important to stay on top of how your practice appears in local citations. Local citations are links or references to your business on other websites, such as listing websites, including Yelp and yellowpages.com. To maximize the impact on your search results, you should make sure your practice’s name, address, and phone number are consistent across the most important local citation sites. That’s because, generally, a dentist with fewer reviews but better local citations will outrank a similar practice with the opposite. Together, positive, regular, and recent reviews and consistent and robust local citations will help you rise up Google’s search engine results page (SERP).
Q: How do I increase my visibility online?
A: Start with a Google Business Profile if you don’t have one. Just type “Google Business Profile” into Google itself to get started. This gives you a customizable panel to enter the relevant information for your business. It acts as the “anchor point” for local citations as many sites pull information from your Google Business Profile.
Next, evaluate your practice using yext.com. This will analyze your local citations and give you a score from zero percent to 100%. The higher your score, the better your practice will perform in local searches, and therefore, more potential patients will see your website.
Q: What are a few practical things I can do to improve how I perform in local searches?
A: The work here will vary depending on your current web presence and reputation. Generally, you want to increase links and references to your website from other sites and generate a steady stream of positive reviews. These references are frequently called NAP or NAPW: your name, address, phone number, and website. The more of these references, the better your score. Make sure these are consistent across all listing websites.
Q: How can I get more positive reviews?
A: Build intentional feedback-gathering into your workflows as a practice. For example, at the end of a dental implant procedure, most practices say something like, “Thanks for choosing us; here are the details for your follow-up care,” and then move into a financial transaction.
Instead, focus on the positive transformation you just provided by saying, “Now you can eat whatever you want!” or “How do you feel about your new smile?” and listen to what they have to say. Then tell them they’ll receive a text later asking for feedback (not a “review”). People shut off when you ask for a review because it sounds like work. But if you ask for their feedback, they feel important (because they are). In your text, include a link to leave a Google review.
Google reviews are the most significant because of their automatic integration with Google Business Profile and Google’s SERP. Even if you get a review rate of 5%, that is quite high. You’ll be getting one review for every 20 happy patients who leave your office. Also, consider incentivizing your team to request/collect reviews by setting goals and rewards based on positive reviews earned from patients.
Q: What if someone leaves a bad review, and it’s fake, or multiple, or someone with a grudge?
A: Sometimes, a previous employee or a particularly disgruntled patient will intentionally attempt to sabotage your reviews. It happens. In this situation, flag the reviews and send a ticket to the review site where they left it. This doesn’t guarantee the reviews will get removed, but it does give you a chance.
Either way, don’t get pulled into a war of words online. That’s often what they want, and it can come across to other people negatively. Instead, reach out directly to the patient offline, if you know him or her, and try to have a positive conversation. Many times, he or she will update or remove the review after that.
Q: What are the best ways to handle a truly negative review?
A: First, don’t panic. To get hundreds of positive reviews online, you’re going to get a few bad ones as well. You truly cannot please everyone, and frankly, some patients are impossible to please. That’s a good thing too, as it makes the positive ones seem more legitimate. If you only have 5-star reviews, people think you bought them or manipulated the system. Next, take a moment to learn from the feedback. Even if it feels mean, look for any legitimate critique.
Finally, don’t challenge the patient in the public square. Take the conversation offline. See what you can do to improve the situation. Don’t be defensive. Many times, patients will edit their reviews into something more positive. Then move on and work on getting more positive reviews.
Q: What are some worst practices when it comes to gathering positive reviews?
A: It ultimately comes down to this: Don’t try to control your patients or your reviews. Don’t ever create a fake person to leave positive reviews for your practice. Don’t force or coerce your patients to leave reviews. Don’t incentivize patients to leave reviews. Don’t have patients review you in your office. Those violate Google’s and Yelp’s terms and almost always backfire.
Finally, never, ever, ever sue a patient for a bad review. You’ll get your 15 minutes of fame in the worst way, along with a destroyed reputation.
ABOUT LEONARD F. TAU
Dr. Tau received his DMD degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston.
He is the author of Raving Patients and 100 Tips to 100 Reviews in 100 Days.
Dr. Tau lectures internationally on internet and reputation marketing.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.