Yelp! Important to SEO for Dentists

fake reviewsYep. I’m changing my opinion of Yelp! Recently, we encountered a little flutter of negative reviews on Yelp, from people claiming to be clients. All of the bad reviews came within a few days of each other, and one had the same name as one of our very happy clients. We called the client to make sure she was, indeed, happy with our dental marketing services and product. She said that she certainly did not place the review. So, I was up against a problem that many dentists, and some MDPM client dentists, have had to face: fake reviews that harm my business’ reputation.

Yelp’s Review Filter

About a year ago, Yelp claimed that their new review filter would strain out some of the fake reviews. Apparently, Yelp! was receiving a tidal wave of complaints about this issue. From what I saw with my dental marketing clients, the positive reviews were being filtered out, and the negative reviews were remaining. Yelp’s solution seemed counterproductive. In my situation, the fake reviews were showing up.

SEO and Reputation

Having a website on the first page of Google is awesome, if your ranking shows your company in a positive light. Because Google places high priority on consumer reviews, like those on Yelp!, when a company receives Yelp! reviews, their Yelp! profile often shoots to the top of Google results. If the reviews are negative, you get top rankings, but consumers see you in a negative light. Few things in the SEO world are this disheartening, particularly for victims of fake negative reviews!

Plan of Action

I asked a few clients to place positive reviews for MDPM on Yelp!, hoping that the positive reviews would push the negative reviews off the first page results on Yelp. However, Yelp’s filter only allowed one of the positive reviews to be displayed. The positive review brought my score up a bit, and it was the first review on my profile page at Yelp!, but the problem remained. The fake negative reviews were still there.

Next, I logged into my Yelp! business account and responded to the negative reviews as the business owner. My account had to be verified, and the verification process took about 24 hours. In each response, I stated that I had not done business with the reviewer, and I asked that the reviewer call me personally to discuss the situation. On one, I indicated that I thought the review was fake, perhaps posted by a disgruntled former employee or a competitor. To my surprise and delight, the fake reviews all dropped off within 24 hours. Their negative score no longer affected my 5-star rating, and the positive review remained. Other positive reviews that I know have been submitted by my clients have not yet shown up on my profile.

Today, I look at the listing and see a 4.5-star rating. Yelp says that I have two reviews, but only one is showing up. Very strange.

Summary and Help

The bottom line is, Yelp! has problems, just like Facebook and Google. However, negative fake reviews seem slanderous and can seriously harm your business. There is no guaranteed formula for correcting the problem. You can try what I tried, and I sincerely hope you get results. Until our legal system catches up with the Internet age and finds a way to manage an international service, which may never happen, we’ll see these types of issues. I’ve often told my clients to steer clear of Yelp! because of lawsuits dentists have had to place in an effort to get bad reviews removed. Today, my opinion is, if you’re willing to take the risk, Yelp! can help you – but it can also harm your reputation, and there’s not much you can do in retaliation.

If you need assistance with dental marketing, reputation management, your dentist website, or social networking, call MDPM Consulting today at 972-781-8861, or email us. We offer a complimentary one-hour phone consultation and website analysis.