Dentists

Tainted Love: Yelp’s Unethical Practices and You

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Yelp is a review website where individuals can post their experience with a business — good or bad — and essentially anyone with Internet access can read it. Known primarily for its testimonials on the best brunch in the city, Yelp also allows patients to review doctors and dentists the same way you would a bar or restaurant. Of course every rose has its thorn, and there are clear benefits and drawbacks to this practice. We covered much of this in our post on how to manage Yelp reviews, as well as our buyer’s guide to online reviews. Time after time, however, Yelp keeps popping up in the news. Against all odds, Yelp is now legally allowed to manipulate ratings for money. It may feel like the end of the world as we know it, but don’t fret! We can help your dental or medical practice navigate this shakedown.

If you’ve gotten the distinct feeling that something is reading a little upside down about this…it’s not because you’ve been hitting the red, red wine. Fortunately, just like the sidekick in a classic ‘80s movie, Rosemont Media can help you overcome this villain. After all, that’s what friends are for. We’re going to go through Yelp’s policies head to toe and explain straight up what each one means for your practice. Then we’ll show you how to tame this maneater and work within the system. Just walk this way.

Things You Should Know About Yelp

Yelp’s “About Us” page clearly states the way it is on their site. The fact that Yelp receives an average of 83 million unique visitors per month from mobile devices alone is a sign of the times, and this information illustrates the business’ power. Everybody wants to rule the world, right? There are three policies in particular that make Yelp seem like the wild wild west to many dentists and physicians, but with our help you can avoid shedding teardrops.

1. Yelp makes money by selling ads to local businesses.

Yelp swears up and down that buying or not buying advertisements has no effect on a practice’s rating, but don’t believe the hype. The Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that Yelp absolutely could give paying clients more favorable reviews. The claim that it’s money for nothing is hard to swallow. If a careless whisper from a prior patient has left you with a less than stellar reputation, Yelp is hoping you’ll call them up and buy ads to help attract more positive patient reviews. Do so and abracadabra — the critical testimonials may suddenly get filtered.

2. Paying advertisers can never change or re-order their reviews.

Relax, Yelp says, we won’t alter the wording or change the order of your reviews (unless a visitor is on the pre-selected “Yelp Sort” view, in which case the order is determined by Yelp’s algorithm). But the coldhearted truth is they can filter comments they decide are suspicious, and you just have to roll with it. What counts as suspicious? Too many five-star reviews, for one. That’s right, if you have too much of a good thing happening, Yelp may start hiding your positive testimonials.

3. Yelp uses automated software to recommend the most helpful and reliable reviews for the Yelp community.

If you’re feeling under pressure at this point, that’s understandable. The temptation to give in to buying Yelp’s advertisements to have your reviews fall under the “helpful and reliable” category is real, and that may be the best option for you. But with or without you, your practice information will remain on the site. Yelp will never remove a business listing, even if you tell it to beat it. But don’t run to the hills yet, because Rosemont offers dental and medical reputation management, and our experienced team can help you organically develop reviews that reveal just how satisfied patients in your care can be.

Don’t stop believing that a future with good reviews is possible. As long as you’re providing the best service possible, you may not ever need to give in to Yelp’s quasi-extortion. But if you are concerned about the reviews you’re seeing online, contact us today to learn how to shift public relations in your favor. Remember: Rosemont Media is never gonna give you up; you just have to have a little faith.

Ashley Berg

About

A Midwesterner by birth and a San Diegan by choice, Ashley is a dedicated reader, editor, and content producer with a passion for the nerdier things in life. Ashley is a Senior Writer at Rosemont Media, and when not crafting well-researched material for her clients in the elective healthcare industry, she is busy earning her master’s degree in Science and Medical Writing from Johns Hopkins University. In rare moments of downtime, Ashley catches up on Netflix shows, consumes noodles, and cuddles her pets, Rufus and Barley. You can also find her practicing yoga, camping, rock climbing, and making promises to start a fitness boot camp with her coworkers.