This is a question I get fairly often, along with dentists simply telling me that they hate Yelp. The reason, I believe, is that Yelp seems inherently unfair. If someone does a book review on Amazon, or a hotel review on TripAdvisor, the review appears chronologically with all the other reviews.
Yelp, on the other hand, filters reviews. Also, negative reviews seem to float to the top, and even if a dentist has many positive reviews, they show up as “filtered” at the bottom of the page, and a viewer has to click to see the good reviews displayed. (see where the purple arrow is pointing?) Not only that, when you click on it they make you do one of those annoying CAPTCHAs before you can access the reviews. Two steps instead of none.
The explanation Yelp gives is that essentially negative reviews are, by their very nature, credible, and positive reviews are suspect. Okay, maybe. But why not let the reader decide that, like all the other review sites?
And now add the fact that virtually no one who writes a Yelp review about a dentist is reviewing the clinical expertise of that dentist. They have tons of things to say about the experience of seeing that dentist, of being in the practice, of what it costs, how the staff interacted with them, what the decor was like. And since it’s not easy to give a tremendously fun experience during a dental treatment, people tend to be somewhat negative.
And one more thing: if you are not a paying advertiser on Yelp, when someone finds your practice, Yelp is going to assault them with alternative choices of dentists in the area who do pay them. Notice all the purple arrows here. This dentist has not even claimed his business on Yelp yet, and so he has very little information listed. (I’m going to get on him about that!) But Yelp has also provided THIRTEEN other dentists to choose from!
You may not think reviews are important, but 83% of people who search online say they are influenced by reviews. That’s a big number. Also, I recently wrote a blog on the growing influence of Yelp, and it’s worth the read if you are unfamiliar with the site.
So what do you do? First, claim your business on Yelp. Second, start asking your patients if they are Yelp reviewers, and if they are, request that they write a review for you. If they review frequently, Yelp ascribes more credibility to their reviews, and they won’t get filtered. Also, you simply want an overwhelming number of positive reviews and that usually turns the tide in your favor.
You might also consider advertising on Yelp, but as with anything, track your results. It’s not cheap, so it better yield some real patients.
Lastly, ideally your Yelp reviews should be viewable within your own website. WebDirector, our website product, does that, and they feed in automatically. This is critical because it keeps the viewer on your website instead of going out to Yelp to read your reviews (where they will see ads for other dentists, as you see above). When researching a business, people now tend to check two or three sites, and Yelp is often one of them. Make it so they can see those reviews without leaving your website, and you vastly increase the chance of being contacted by them.
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