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, Solution Reach, Weave, 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 dental reputation management and 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 for Reputation Management?
Google removed all third party reviews from their “GMB accounts”, 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 dental marketing 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!
About the Author: Jack Hadley is one of the founding members of My Social Practice located in Salt Lake City, Utah. He is passionate about helping dental practices grow their patient base exponentially by using digital dental marketing strategies. If you’d like to book Jack or one of the other members of My Social Practice’s speaking team, you can do that on our dental marketing consultant page.
A few months ago a representative from yelp was harassing us to sign up with them. When I refused to buy their product she basically told me that my business was doomed. Hello yelp I am still here and doing better than last year!
Thanks Dr. Naqvi for your comment.
Glad to hear Yelp is addressing this issue. Does using an iPad for submitting reviews in the office get around the problem of having reviews coming from the same IP address? Or have you not found it to be an issue?
At this point I have not seen any information or proof that Google has removed reviews from a dental offices Place Page if the reviews were gathered from inside the office.
Google looks at several indicators when trying to identify whether a review is legitimate or not. They look at the IP address, keyword density of the review, and most importantly the account information of the person logged into their Google account.
If the address or even the IP address of the Google account user is in and around the actual location of the dental office then Google sees this as a valid review. One of the biggest reason that the IP address is an issue is because when it’s a bogus review it’s usually located outside of the service area of the business. Why in the world would a person in San Francisco be reviewing a dental practice in Idaho. That’s usually what happens. There is a company that is submitting bogus reviews from an IP address outside of the area.
So at this point… Submitting reviews from the same IP address is frowned upon but I have yet to see any dental office that is aggregating reviews from inside their office to have their accounts shut down. If you have any example of this happening please let us know and we’ll investigate and create a blog post about it.
Here is an interesting post made on an auto dealers blog about the subject. Read the comments – there are good points on both sides: http://www.drivingsales.com/videos/google-places-app-for-auto-dealers
This article is correct. There are tons of complaints against Yelp every day they show up. This company is being run aby a bunch of egotistic yuppies who so far have shown they have to keep borrowing to keep that business going. They’re not making a profit especially from business. Their loosing support from business. Further, if businesses do not want to be on Yelp they shouldn’t be forced on there. This should be the lawsuit . Take a look at this link and all the business and consumers daily who coplain about this business.
I spent several hours with a sales rep at Yelp trying to up-sell me into an elaborate $350 advertising package. My final answer was no. I then moved my office and updated my address on my current free Yelp ad. The changes have been ‘locked’ for two weeks and still not updated. (I had a new client find me on Yelp but ended up at the wrong address.) A note appears on Yelp saying that staff has approved it yet the old address still appears. I went in and added a review noting the new address. Immediately the review was pulled as inappropriate. Yet the old address is still there with no correction. Hmmmm – They can yank the review but they can’t fix the address. Glad I didn’t spend the money on any paid advertising with them if this is the quality of service you get.
Thanks for your comment, Nancy. Unfortunately, we seem to be hearing a lot of these kinds of experiences lately. There is something pretty cool that is just barely being rolled out on Facebook where people can do “recommendations” easily on your page. This recommendations function is replacing the reviews function on Facebook and looks like a more powerful way to get Facebook reviews. Stay tuned…
Wish I had found this site in September! I had a free Yelp account with 8 Five Star Reviews, then I started advertising with Yelp for $300 per month, a 1 year contract. My sales Representative promised that I could advertise “Special Offers” on my revamped page, and my competitors ads would not be on my page.
As soon as they had my signature, and money, they filtered all my reviews, so I am left with no star ratings, and they moved my competitors to the right and listing their star reviews. Every time I receive a new review now, it is filtered within 24 hours.
I have pleaded with my account Representative repeatedly but she says she has no control of the reviews. What I need is relief from Yelp’s practices.
Does anybody have any suggestions? I really do not want to pay the $600 dollars to be let out of my contract.
I wish I had a better answer for you. I’ve only heard horror stories about YELP so far. I’m sure that there are plenty of happy customers but I’ve heard about many situations like yours. I’ve never had an account with YELP and therefore can’t comment on how to navigate through their system for a solution. I would suggest talking with some other businesses who use YELP and see if there is someone who has had the same type situation and who could also give you some direction.
Here is an article that I found, which may help a bit: http://www.raymondfong.net/misc/a-candid-yelp-advertising-review-is-yelp-ripping-people-off/
In the end if you feel that their business practices are unfair and they will not work with you further to repair the relationship then you can always charge back on the credit card that you used to pay them.