What you need to know about Google’s review policy change
Google updated their terms of service (TOS) regarding online reviews in April. You can find Google’s updated policy here. There are a couple of line items that could specifically effect dentists and the way that some practices solicit reviews. Those items listed in Google’s updated policy on reviews are as follows:
- Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.
- Don’t solicit reviews from customers in bulk.
Why did Google make this change?
If you’ve kept an eye on both your practice’s reviews, as well as your competitors, you’ve probably noticed that Google reviews have gotten a little out of control. Some businesses show hundreds or even thousands of only 5 star Google reviews. If you were wondering how a business could possibly service thousands of customers without a single negative review, the business was probably safeguarding against negative reviews.
There really wasn’t anything wrong with actively protecting your business against negative reviews. It’s the smart move. All business owners would rather showcase their happy customers, rather than display their occasional grievances. However… Google’s whole business model is built around accuracy and creating the best user experience possible.
Google wants to portray businesses and their customer experiences accurately in search results. This includes maintaining reviews that are a reliable depiction of how you run your business. They don’t want businesses to hide their flaws, as this could create a bad user experience in the long run. Someone who once trusted a 5 star reputation on Google, might not trust those listings after a bad experience.
Consumers are also catching on to the fact that reviews can be gamed. For a better understanding of how consumers use and interpret reviews, check out this comprehensive review survey from Brightlocal.
Does this effect how the Elevate DDS system requests reviews?
To be extra safe in protecting our client’s reputations, and to ensure Google doesn’t delete positive reviews from Google My Business, we have slightly changed our review request templating. We no longer recommend creating a two click (or two step) process to safeguard against negative reviews. We have adjusted the template to pre-check sentiment in the same one step process. You can view the new standard templating below:
The good news is that the new review request email layout eliminates another step in the process. Now when a patient receives the email and clicks, they will be taken directly to that site for the review. So it will be a one-step process as opposed to a two-step process from now on.
What’s important moving forward?
It’s more important than ever to make sure that happy patients are leaving their reviews publicly on Google, Facebook and a handful of other third party websites.
At Elevate DDS our recommended approach would be to send a review request to every patient that you treat. Send a review request to each individual patient you check out (and not as a bulk upload). There is still a great chance you’ll capture negative sentiment this way, before any grievances are posted to Google or Facebook. In the process, you’ll also generate MANY new 5 star reviews that will reflect in your overall star rating. Remember your star rating is an average. So the more 5 star reviews, the better!
Why we don’t recommend selectively sending requests to happy patients
In our experience, we’ve seen this lead to fewer reviews over time. It also doesn’t stop negative reviews from happening at all. Freshness of reviews matter greatly to potential patients. They want to see happy patients leave reviews in the last few weeks or month. So we recommend asking for reviews every single day from the patients you see in your practice!
What if I get a negative review?
If you get a negative review, don’t panic. All of our other systems are still in place for alerting your team when you receive a review (positive or negative). We recommend responding to both positive and negative reviews as much as possible. Try to resolve negative experiences using non-combative methods. We also have a complete review guide that should help you with your dental office reputation management here.