Online Reviews: Witness the Rise of Yelp

The world of online reviews continues to heat up.  Yelp has now partnered with Bing, Microsoft’s search engine, to include their reviews when a business comes up in a search.

If you don’t know what Yelp is, you need to.  It is a site where people can review any business, including your dental practice, and you have no control over the content.  They went public this year and are currently worth $1.5 billion, so don’t expect them to go away any time soon.

You may be also thinking, “Bing?  Does anyone use Bing?”  Or even, “I’ve never heard of Bing.”  So you should know that there are three primary search engines at this point: Google, Bing and Yahoo. Google of course dominates with more than 65% of all searches, but Bing still gets 15%,  which is not nothing.  And Yelp is taking advantage of that.

Google is also the biggest player when it comes to reviews, but Yelp is a strong second. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, Google bought Zagat and is combining Zagat reviews with their own reviews.  Zagat is more than just travel and dining, by the way. It is now soliciting reviews on doctors and dentists, so those will start to show up.  In response to this, Yelp teamed up with Bing.  They also teamed up with Apple.  In October, Apple will be introducing its own mapping program and no longer using Google Maps on iPhones.  Yelp made a deal with Apple to include their reviews in local business search results.  This is big, as Apple controls almost a third of the smartphone business.

You should also be aware that if someone reviews you on Yelp, they can have it automatically posted to their Facebook wall for all their friends to see All of this will strengthen Yelp’s number 2 position.

Why should you care?  First, because 60-70% of dentists already have at least one review on Yelp. And even if you don’t have a review, you could very easily get one tomorrow.  Nothing Yelp does notifies you of this. (By the way, your practice is already listed there.) But you should really care because more people are reading online reviews all the time, and are coming to expect them. Many people don’t act until they can read a review, and if they can’t find a review about a business, they will move on to one that does have them.

How many people, you ask? According to a Nielsen report, for those people who are active users of social media, more than 65% will use social media, including Yelp, to seek reviews from their peers on products and services.  And more than 50% of them also actively post positive or negative reviews.  Those are huge percentages, considering the fact that more than 70% of baby boomers now have at least one social media account!  (Gen X and Y are of course even higher.)

So what should your plan be?

1.  You need to claim your business on Yelp in order to be able to comment or reply to reviews, and also because you can put a lot more information about your practice, like hours and services, photos and video. Do that here: biz.yelp.com.  Like, today.

2. Solicit Yelp reviews from your patients.  This blog tells you a great trick for getting them.

3. Monitor your reputation online.  Make this someone’s job in the office. And always comment on reviews.

I’ll be talking more about solutions for managing your reputation online in weeks to come.

Lastly, if you’re interested in an excellent in-depth look at online consumer behavior, check out this article by Brian Solis.

About Fred Joyal

I am the Co-Founder of 1-800-DENTIST, and author of the book Everything Is Marketing: the Ultimate Strategy for Dental Practice Growth. I have worked in the dental industry for 26 years, and have helped thousands of practices grow with new patients and with marketing guidance. I speak all over the country on dental marketing, social media and practice management. Find me on Google Plus.

Posted on July 11, 2012, in Advertising, Dental Marketing, Dentistry, Social Media, Uncategorized, Websites and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Hi Fred, just wanted to follow up with you about your mention of “Solicit Yelp reviews from your patients.” My practice has done this and now we have about 25 filtered reviews! Yelp won’t post any of them on their site, they only put them under filtered. Only the bad reviews show up on the first page.

    • This is a typical complaint with Yelp, Matt. The problem, in part, is that Yelp prefers reviews from people who review often, rather than just once or twice, and they float those up to the first page. The second is what they keep getting class action suits for, which is that they show the good reviews when you pay for advertising. I don’t think this is true any longer, if it ever was, as they are now a public company and can’t get away with this as easily. They have “filters” on reviews, and no one knows how they work. The best thing you can do is put a small graphic up with your photos that says, “Scoll down to see our Filtered Reviews”. I’ll try to put a sample up that you can download and post as a picture.

  2. Marlene Saint-Phard Shaw

    1.5 billion! Insane! But I knew when Yelp had their little sticker everywhere on every business window for free back in 2007-2008, including my (and husband’s) coffee shop, they were up to something. Well we had to shut down the coffee shop, not profitable, losing money, though we had 4-star with yelp. 1.5 billion! Wow!

    Thank you Fred for bringing up the online reputation monitoring issue. Interestingly, my staff and I started addressing this earlier this week. But I can use all the info I can find. What’s a few more articles to read, on top of your book, and other books and other blog posts?

  3. Hi Marlene,
    I always recommend reading Seth Godin’s blog. sethgodin.typepad.com. It’s not dental related, just good clear business thinking. For even wilder out of the box stuff I read Tim Ferris’ blog at http://www.fourhourworkweek,com. Hope to see you again in NY!
    Fred

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