THIS WEEK WE’VE HAD THREE OF OUR CLIENTS contact us seeking advice about problems they’re having with “manipulation” of their online YELP reviews.
Because of our interest in the functionality and accessibility of reviews—and the relationship reviews have with social media marketing—we’ve been researching solutions for this space for a long time. We’re evaluating Demand Force’s review system, Google Reviews, Dr. Oogle, YELP, Citysearch, Insider Pages, Judy’s Book and many others in order to better make thoughtful recommendations to our clients about reviews.
Of all of the review companies we’ve researched, I have yet to find any other company—besides YELP—with so many complaints. In fact, other than YELP complaints, the only other recent buzz was when Demand Force’s reviews were pulled from Google’s place pages. Maybe that should be telling us something about YELP.
To verify my suspicions I just did another Google search about YELP reviews. What did I find? Dozens of press releases about unhappy YELP clients complaining about the same things. The consistent complaint is that YELP manipulates reviews in order to facilitate sales. One publication reported that YELP employees may be blackmailing businesses into purchasing upgraded products. YELP salespeople were evidently reported to have said that they would remove bad reviews for a price. In another instance it was reported that “good reviews” would “disappear”—then, the salesperson could “reinstate” those reviews for a price.
It appears as though YELP is working to resolve the problems, but for now I suggest staying clear. If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck and walks like a duck… It’s probably a duck.
So, What’s Our Current Recommendation?
Just a few weeks ago Google removed all third party reviews from their “place pages”, which are the free business listings provided to business owners. Prior to making this change it was nearly impossible to submit a review directly into Google because the review button was buried in a mountain of confusing information.
Now that Google has removed much of that information, and also highlighted the review button, we’re recommending that practices encourage patients to review their practice directly into Google. This will affect your rankings in local search, and Google has shown no interest in making reviews part of their income strategy (like YELP apparently has). So, at this point, there’s no indication that Google will manipulate reviews for revenue.
Here’s How To Help Your Patients Submit A Google Review:
- First, find your “place page” within Google. You can do this by using your practice phone number to search Google. Then, click the maps tab in the upper left hand corner.
- Next, go to the upper right hand corner of the place page and click on the link that says, “Paste link…” The screen shot above shows what it looks like (outlined in red).
- Copy the link.
- Distribute that link by whatever means you’d like and encourage your fans to review you directly in Google. Some practices have sent emails to all their patients that include the link.
Many Of Our Client Practices Are Using iPads For In-Office Reviews
When patients visit, team members are able to hand them the iPad to do a review right on the spot. Pretty cool.
The Ongoing Debates Continue About Reviews
We’ll do our best to pass along our thoughts in an effort to help. Oh, and by the way, if you haven’t yet LIKED our Facebook page, now would be an excellent time to do so!