We are always evaluating new ways to cultivate online reviews, including some third-party vendors and helping our member dental offices to work requests for online reviews into their processes. Google, Yelp and other services are hiding more and more reviews that they believe may be fabricated. It’s frustrating! Some of these third-party vendors may have a solution, but I want to make sure that they don’t do more harm than good in the long run.

Google has a history of taking drastic measures to thwart automated attempts to boost rankings, and despite the fact that patients are involved in creating the reviews, the fact that the reviews are being encouraged and posted via a system of emails and links makes me nervous. Yelp even says that you’re not supposed to ask for reviews.

In the meantime, I want to tell you about a technique I heard at one of Brad Durham’s seminars. The technique is intended to cultivate referrals, but I believe it can help build online reviews as well as referrals. Brad takes photos of his cosmetic cases after treatment is complete and they’re looking good. He then sends a hard copy of the photo to the patient at his or her workplace. The idea is that the patient will see the photo, and maybe coworkers ask, “Hey, what’d you get?” and it sparks a conversation that can lead to referrals.

Obviously, you wouldn’t do this with every patient, but when the patient works in a field where there’s a somewhat upscale office environment and they have had a great experience, it’s a recipe for success. Include a note with the photo and ask the patient if they would please go online and post a 5-star review about their experience. The combination of all these positive experiences should be enough to encourage some of these patients to follow through and the reviews will look very natural to Google.

[The above article was published in our members-only newsletter nearly 2 years ago. Interested in getting access to these types of ideas when they are fresh? Contact us to learn about membership!]