Dentist working on a patient who needs reputation management
  • 22
  • March

Dental Reputation Management Tips For Dentists

Positive patient reviews are crucial in terms of reputation, but they are also important because they impact how Google ranks a business page and dolls out their highly valued business star ratings. Practices wanting to cement a positive online presence within their field can do so by following some basic dental reputation management tips for dentists that will positively impact your dental practice.

Patient Reviews: Reputation Management Advice For Dentists When Navigating Google Search Results


In the past, it was more difficult for consumers and patients to share their experiences, negative or positive, with others. Reputations used to be made through word of mouth, but it is now easier than ever for Internet searchers to seek out the experiences of others, as well as share their own. As many people feel anxiety at the thought of going to see a dentist, they are more likely to seek out information regarding the ideal dentist to visit. A potential customer will want to feel comfortable that the dentist is experienced, knowledgeable, and of course, kind and approachable.

What this means for businesses is that their online presence forms an integral aspect of their reputation. Not only can potential patients look up reviews of practice, they can also access photos of the office, find out where the office is located, and how long they have been in business. There are numerous websites dedicated to providing a platform for reviews: Google My Business, Facebook, Yelp, Bing Maps, and Health Grades. In fact, virtually every site has a built-in review component. Studies have also shown that 88 percent of consumers fully trust online reviews and use them to make their own decisions regarding where to take their business.

Reputation Management Infographic for Dentists

Google Search Results

While many have heard the terms ‘SEO’, ‘page rankings’, and ‘click-through rates’, not everyone fully understands what they mean, especially in terms of online presence, branding, and success. When it comes to customer reviews, not only do they affect the decisions of potential customers, but they also affect higher-star ratings and how Google ranks a website.

Google bases its page ranking on a number of factors including keywords, search popularity, customer interaction, and reviews. If a business has better reviews, the star rating is higher. Higher-star ratings correlate with Google’s page rankings. Correlations have also been found between higher page rankings and click-through rates: how many searchers actually click on the link to your site and visit. Research has also shown that website visitors have moved away from solely reading provided content and moved more towards wanting to gain from the experiences of others in the form of customer and patient reviews.

What the Surveys Say

According to a local consumer review survey done by Bright Local in 2015, the importance of online customer reviews is only growing. The results have shown that not only do 92 percent of consumers read patient reviews, 40 percent form opinions based on reading a mere one-to-three reviews. The survey further revealed that star rating has become the number one business judging factor used by consumers. Additionally, only 13 percent of users will choose a business with a low star rating. With these findings in mind, it is clear how having even a handful of negative reviews can affect an online business reputation.

Why do Patients Leave Reviews?

Part of reputation management for dentists involves understanding why patients actually leave reviews in the first place. While the Better Business Bureau was the watchdog of businesses in the past, this power has been placed in the hands of consumers and patients who now have numerous platforms from which to share their experiences. With the rise of these multiple media platforms comes a dramatic increase in customer and patient reviews, both negative and positive.

Motivating Factors for Leaving Reviews

As leaving a review is voluntary, it prompts the question of why exactly do people leave them? What are they getting out of sharing their experience, whether positive or negative? The findings of most consumer surveys suggest that review motivation falls into a series of categories: reciprocity, revenge, altruism, acknowledgment, social image, and self-expression.

1) Reciprocity

This motivating factor involves the desire to acknowledge and reward a business that provided superior service. In these cases, patients enjoy the opportunity to acknowledge the positive work and service provided by the chosen practice.

2) Revenge

Negative reviews are generally left out of a desire to punish a business that has disappointed or wronged the customer in some way. Often, individuals who feel they have been mistreated feel the need to seek out justice. These individuals get satisfaction from giving a business a negative review that can hurt its reputation and discourage others from making the same mistake.

3) Altruism

The motivating factor here is to not only acknowledge the business that has provided a superior service but also to help others benefit from having that same experience. This is a valuable tool for patients who get pleasure from increasing the likelihood that others will have the same positive experience.

4) Acknowledgment

Often lead contributors to receive a status acknowledgment as a top contributor used by platforms such as Google’s ‘City Experts’ or Yelp’s ‘Elite’. These reviewers enjoy the accolades of status provided by the chosen media platform.

5) Social Image

Many people enjoy spreading their image on social networks, and customer reviews is another way to accomplish this. Often, these people will be quite active within a certain niche or community.

6) Self Expression

These individuals are active within a certain online community. These reviewers are driven by the desire to share their opinions with like-minded individuals.

While most reviews fall into the ‘altruism’ and ‘reciprocity’ categories, how does a dental practice handle negative reviews in a positive way?

How to Handle Negative Reviews

Regardless of how hard a practice tries, not every patient is going to leave the office fully satisfied every time. The problem is that even a small amount of negative reviews can have a large impact on a practice’s online reputation. Not only can they affect the star rating, the Google rankings of the page also decrease, and this can result in a decrease in web traffic. These online results can affect a practice’s image and reputation in a damaging way.

Is it Okay to Pay for Positive Reviews?

While there are definitely those who pay for fake reviews, Google has guidelines in place to regulate this. While your website may go unhindered by Google’s violation rules for a time, Google will eventually find out and punish your website.

Handling Negative Reviews in a Positive Way

When it comes to handling negative reviews, the idea is to acknowledge and address them in a positive way that will mitigate any potential damage to reputation. The first rule of thumb is to select which reviews you respond to. Responding to all reviews will not seem genuine, as well as being incredibly time-consuming. Instead, respond to the positive reviews that are the most meaningful; these are the ones that describe your practice of going above and beyond. Responding to these experiences will show page visitors and potential patients that you care about the experiences of your clientele.

Potential Responses to Negative Reviews

1) Timely Response

When it comes to negative reviews, always respond to these. This will show that as much as you care about those expressing positive experiences, you are also concerned and regretful that others have had negative experiences. In these instances, acknowledge the complaint and attempt to come up with a way to remedy it.

2) Private Resolution

Try and contact the individual privately to see if a resolution can be reached. If they are happy, they can be encouraged to remove their review or amend it to include the correction.

3) Take Responsibility

Acknowledging responsibility is crucial. Even if you feel you are not 100 percent in the wrong, apologizing can go a long way in terms of turning things around.

4) Big Picture

Keep the big picture in mind. While one or two negative comments amongst a plethora of positive ones are not the worst things in the world, consider each complaint an opportunity to turn it around to something positive.

5) Public Resolution

If you and the patient who left the negative review have come to a resolution, address this publicly. This will mitigate the damage of the negative review by letting potential patients see that you are an approachable and fair individual.

How to Encourage Positive Reviews

Ideally, encouraging positive reviews will go a lot farther in terms of potential customer relations and reputation than reacting to negative ones. Some tips on how to encourage patients to leave positive reviews can result in the formation of a positive online reputation for years to come.

1) Business Cards for Reviews

Creating a business card that provides a link to leaving a review is ideal. As the office decides who to hand these out to, those who leave happy with their experience are obvious choices when it comes to individuals more likely to leave positive reviews. The link will connect directly to the practice’s Google Review page, and this link can be accessed via the Google review link generator. Practices can also plug their link into a URL shortener so it is more user-friendly.

2) Review Handouts

In addition to the review business cards, providing a short handout that guides patients through the review process, from creating a Google account to finding your practice online, increases accessibility for reviewers. Also, not all patients have technological knowledge and ability, so some will need this extra help and guidance.

3) Video Content

In terms of SEO trends for 2018, video is a steadily increasing trend. Adding some video content on your page will not only improve your overall rankings, but studies have shown that users are more likely to interact with content provided in a variety of media forms. If a patient can be encouraged to leave a video review via YouTube, these are highly effective in gaining the trust of potential patients.

Soliciting iPad Reviews

While it may seem like an appealing option to have an IPad in the office dedicated to soliciting positive reviews from patients while they are there, this can have negative results in terms of Google’s ranking. If a number of reviews are coming from the same IP address, Google will flag you, and this will affect your page rankings negatively. To break it down, don’t attempt to solicit reviews in an unauthentic way. While you can encourage your patients to share their experiences in the aforementioned ways, attempting to create them artificially will only come back to harm your practice and online reputation.

When it comes to dental reputation management tips for dentists, it is more important than ever before to build a solid and positive online presence and reputation. In terms of competing in your area’s online niche, patient reviews will be an integral part of that as individuals look to the experiences of others to help them determine where to take their business. While you are forming your online marketing strategy, consider ways to encourage patients with positive experiences to share these online, as well as forming a strategy to mitigate the potential damages caused by negative reviews. Recent changes to Google’s star rating system base their ranking on any number, small or large, of reviews. Monitoring and attempting to resolve any negative reviews quickly and positively is a good reputation management strategy to employ.

The world today is a highly digitized one. From the prevalence of the digital marketplace to the growth of cryptocurrency, these changes are here to stay. More people are using the Internet in virtually all aspects of life from maintaining personal connections via social media, reading blogs, online banking, investing, shopping, and searching out potential businesses. The instant availability of information regarding businesses has not only changed things for consumers but also in the ways, businesses need to compete to create a positive online presence. Dental practices are no exception to this as online customer reviews are becoming more and more crucial to success and attracting potential patients.


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