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Bad Press Part I – The Importance of Online Reviews

  • Date: December 12, 2012
  • Author: eDentalImage
  • Comments: 0

A story circulating around the web recently is that of a reviewer on the online review site, Yelp, who was ordered by a judge to tone down her incredibly negative review of a contractor. The client, a woman in Virginia, accused a contractor she hired to implement some home repairs of not only doing a shoddy job, but of damaging her home and even stealing some of her jewelry while on the job. The contractor sued, claiming that the review has cost them hundreds of thousands in potential business.

What’s special about this case is that the judge actually required the woman to change part of the review in the initial proceedings. Usually, suing a former client over a bad review doesn’t get very far.

With all of the bad press businesses are getting from review sites these days, it might be tempting to avoid having your dental office listed altogether. No listing means no bad reviews right? Well, the truth is, you need to have your practice listed, even if it means risking getting a bad review.

  • From an SEO perspective, you need the web presence a review listing can give. Review sites, like social media, count for a lot with search engines because they contain opinions and rankings from real people- thus, making them more useful to other internet users.
  • From a reputation perspective, the review sites count for a lot! So many people use these sites nowadays- not having a listing is just as bad as having a listing full of bad reviews. If users can’t find other user-generated information about your practice they will move on to another practice with reviews they can trust.

And of course, not all reviews will be bad. It can be easy to assume that all customer reviews are negative, because it’s the really bad reviews that get the most attention, but this just isn’t the case. Even though people use review sites to vent about bad service and try to get back at a business when they feel wronged, this is changing. Enough people have begun to use online review services that, statistically, they will have to write good reviews at some point too.

Yelp has a special group of premium users called the “Yelp Elite Squad” who have substantially more reviews than the average user (think 200-1,000+ reviews). It’s not possible for all of their reviews to be negative, and having only negative reviews doesn’t grant the credibility they need to be a Yelp Elite- so many of their reviews will be positive, and at least reflect an accurate experience of each business. In addition- Yelp Elites’ reviews are featured more prominently among other reviews on the site. The “Yelp Elite” is just one of the ways that Yelp has begun to try to establish a relevancy filter among the sticky world of online reviews.

While there are other review sites out there, and plenty of listing directories (think Google+, Merchant Circle, Yahoo! Local, etc.), Yelp is well-established as a review site and takes a lot of measures to ensure that businesses cannot manipulate reviews they receive, unlike other sites, which allow businesses to approve or delete reviews.

This is the first part of a multi-part installment on dealing with negative online reviews we’ll feature. Because Yelp is the least business-owner-friendly, the most controversial, and very popular, we’ll focus on it for how to handle the world of online reviews. As a dental office owner in the age of technology, you can’t afford to neglect this aspect of web marketing. Stay tuned for the next installment: Why do people write bad reviews?

For more information on maintaining your online reputation or general web and social marketing, feel free to browse our blog for related topics, or contact eDentalImagedirectly for advice or a free consultation.

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