yelp app on a phone next to a keyboardYour online reputation is essential to the success of your dental practice. Gone are the days when good or bad news only traveled by word of mouth; now, your reputation is laid out on the Internet for everyone to see. A 2023 study showed that 93% of users say online reviews impact their buying decisions.

Considering that Google, Yelp, Facebook, and Trip Advisor house 88% of all online reviews, your reputation on Yelp matters! What’s frustrating is that Yelp seems to take down or “not recommend” reviews of its own volition, even when they seem perfectly valid. So why does this happen? First, we’ll need to discuss Yelp’s policies. Then, we’ll look into what you can do about it.

Policies and Why Yelp May Remove Reviews

Yelp has strict content and review policies, very similar to Google’s. Content and reviews on Yelp need to be:

Relevant: Any review content that doesn’t relate to your dental office and the patient experience you provide will be removed. Reviews for another business, reviews concerning employment practices, and reviews about extraordinary circumstances aren’t permitted by Yelp. This is excellent news for you! Yelp monitors the content of your reviews and will remove them if they’re unfair. You can report the review for removal if you feel Yelp has missed something.

Appropriate: Yelp will remove content that contains threats, harassment, lewdness, hate speech, or other displays of bigotry.

No conflict of interest: Yelp wants all their reviews to come from an unbiased source to give users the most accurate information. So, here are some things you can’t do:

  • Review your own business.
  • Review a friend’s or relative’s business.
  • Peers’ or competitor’s business.
  • Ask patients for reviews.

Protect privacy: Content and reviews that have private information will be removed by Yelp.

Free of promotional content: No one can write a “review” that is promoting another business or yours. It has to be specific about their experience at your office.

Based on a personal experience and original: The review has to be based on that person’s experience, not a family member’s or friend’s. It also has to be original, meaning it can’t be found elsewhere on the internet. Say, if someone copied and pasted from a different review they wrote. This factor isn’t something that Yelp can expressly monitor, so it’s more of an ‘honor code’ system.

Accurate: Reviewers cannot misrepresent their experience, but Yelp doesn’t usually take sides in factual debates. This is more of an ‘honor code’ guideline.

Other Reasons Your Yelp Reviews Disappear

Another common reason why a review may disappear is the reviewer removed it. You won’t be able to get the review to display again unless the author reposts it, and it doesn’t count toward your star rating. The last reason why your review may disappear is that Yelp filtered it.

Yelp has software that filters reviews based on several factors. You can still find “not recommended” reviews through a link at the bottom of your business profile, but the review doesn’t count toward your star rating. Remember when we said that some of Yelp’s review guidelines are based on an honor code? This is where their recommendation software comes in. The software evaluates the reviews based on their quality, reliability, and the Yelp user’s activity. Here are some criteria Yelp looks at to decide if the review is recommended:

  • The reviewer’s profile isn’t complete.
  • The reviewer does not have social integration.
  • The reviewer has only posted positive reviews.
  • The review was posted from an IP address located where your business is not.
  • Multiple reviews originate from the same computer.
  • The reviewer does not have Yelp friends.

These reviews are labeled as “not recommended” instead of being flat-out removed because if some of the criteria of the reviewer change, the review can become recommended down the road.

What You Can Do

Even though Yelp may seem to do things that don’t make sense, you can do a few things to manage your online reputation through Yelp.

Respond to All Reviews

Make sure you respond to all reviews, positive and negative. Responding to reviews helps others to gauge your customer service. If you respond politely and professionally, offering to help the reviewer fix their problem, Yelp users looking at the review will be more likely to choose your office anyway. Additionally, responding to your reviews will help your star rating, even if you’ve had a few bad reviews.

Stay Within Yelp’s Guidelines

It should be easy to say within Yelp’s guidelines. However, one single factor can make this problematic: not being allowed to ask for reviews. It’s Yelp’s view that if someone had a great experience, they would write a review without being asked. However, we know that’s not the case. People are much more likely to write about a poor experience than a great one. That means to have a healthy review base, you should ask for them! That brings us to our next point.

Ask for Reviews Elsewhere (Like Google)

Since Yelp doesn’t like businesses asking for reviews, ask for reviews on a different platform, like Google. Remember that you should never offer a free service, discount, or prize for reviews due to its unethicality.

Get Dental Marketing Services

Managing your online reputation takes time. Simply responding to reviews can be cumbersome, not to mention updating all your listings. One solution to this problem is hiring a dental marketing company. Pro Impressions Marketing offers dental marketing services that include reputation management. You’ll only need to worry about your online reputation when we need context in responding to a poor review.

Make Changes in Your Office

Not every review is fair. You may feel that you did everything possible to make a patient happy, and they still leave a bad review. In these cases, all you can do is respond and move on. In other instances, you may need to make a change in your office. If you consistently get poor reviews about one person, you may need to chat with them to find out what is happening. Or you may get many reviews saying they wait forever for their appointment. Take this review as an opportunity to make a positive change. Feedback can be a great thing and a pathway to improving your dental office.

Get Dental Marketing Services You Can Count On

Pro Impressions Marketing offers dental marketing services through the Pro Membership. It’s an all-inclusive digital marketing membership that lets you worry about dentistry while we attract new patients. You’ll receive website design, ongoing copywriting, pay-per-click advertising, search engine optimization, social media management, reputation management, and an account manager who will be your point of contact and voice on our team of dental marketing experts.

Schedule a free strategy call to learn how we can help your practice grow.