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Bring Online Reviews to Your Daily Huddle

I just had a great conversation with Anastasia Turchetta, who is a dental speaker and hygienist, (she’ll be speaking at TBSE this year) and I was showing her our new product, Reputation Monitor.  She immediately had a suggestion which I thought was great, which was to use it in the morning huddle and read the previous day’s reviews to the team.  This serves many purposes.  If there was as negative review, then the team can discuss what went wrong and how to correct it going forward. (It also should be someone’s job to respond to the negative review, but that’s not for the huddle.)  If you had positive reviews, this lets the team know that they are doing a great job and that people are noticing, and gets everyone excited about the day.

It also has the benefit of reminding team members that they are being reviewed, like it or not.  And so that should make them step up their game, and be conscientious, considerate and courteous throughout the day.  And it keeps the idea in mind that they should request that the patients do reviews for the practice, and that they can even do it in the office on their smartphone.  Or the patient could be encouraged to check in on Facebook and post a comment.

Reputation Monitor is a great tool for showing every comment that is being posted about the practice, whether it’s in social media like Facebook or an online review on Yelp or Google.  And this is a terrific way to take advantage of that information.  Thanks, Anastasia!

Online Reviews Are Like Vampires

The dental world is abuzz with stories of online reviews of practices, with good reason. Like vampires, online reviews live forever.  And also like vampires, if you’re not careful they can suck your blood until you’re dry.  A recent study showed that 89% of online reviews are positive.  This is absolutely not true for dentist reviews.  Because people don’t really have a good way of assessing treatment plans or a dentist’s clinical skills, they go by impressions created by the cost, the practice environment, the staff attitude, and a host of intangibles, and when they are scared, unhappy, disappointed or think they are overcharged, now they go on Yelp, Google or someplace like that and spew about it.  Venomously.

And you can’t get that review down. Many have tried. And people who read them don’t come away with much factual information, but people give credence to reviews, because they’ve been reading reviews on Amazon, Trip Advisor, Rotten Tomatoes and FourSquare (and Facebook, too) for years, and they won’t make a decision without hearing from the masses.

It’s a scary environment, and it’s also very hard to track. There are literally hundreds of websites that have some information about you, most of it that you didn’t submit and don’t know anything about.  And it would take hours every week to search them out and respond or correct them.  Until now.

Here at my company we felt that this is such a critical area of marketing that we developed a tool for dentists to easily track that information, and then do something about it.  Last week we officially launched Reputation Monitor.  Here in one dashboard you can track everything from reviews, to social media, to competitors’ ratings online.

This program goes out and searches hundreds of websites and compiles the data for you, and then gives you an easy way to fix it, or at least comment on if it’s a review, or even bring positive reviews into your own Facebook page or website.

It will even send you alerts when a new review appears, by email or right to your cell phone if you’d like.

I think this is an essential tool for dentists or office managers to take control of their online reputation without spending a huge amount of time.  There are other products that claim to do some of this, but this is the most comprehensive and user-friendly product out there.  I’m really proud of it, and I hope you’ll try it and tell me what you think.

It does so much that it takes 15 minutes or so to fully demonstrate it.  If you’re interested, click to schedule a demo for Reputation Monitor.  In a later blog I’ll talk about my recommendations for dealing with negative reviews.

This is what the overview page looks like:

The Best Places for Patient Reviews

After a speaking engagement last week in Atlanta, a dentist asked me how I would rank the various places where patients can review his practice.  I thought my answer would be of general interest.

#1.  Google.  No surprise there.  80% of business search is done on or through Google or Google Maps.  And underneath the search results are the number of Google reviews that can be read. (These reviews have to be written by someone with a gmail address, by they way.)

I will again use my friend Dr. Craig Spodak’s results to show you.  See how he has 89 reviews?  Also note that someone can click next to that count and write their own review.  The more reviews you have, the better you will come up on Google in a natural (unpaid) search.

#2. Your Own Website. This is the next place people are likely to look for reviews (and Google will also be searching your site for them, which will boost your website’s SEO).  This means you have to have a website that is dynamic.  That word means something specific in the web world–that is, that you can add and change information yourself, rather than having to use your webmaster.  You need to be able to add photos, video, your blog (if you’re doing one) and especially patient reviews and testimonials.

This requires you to solicit those reviews from your patients, and then post them yourself. Or, much more simply, you could use a digital communication application like Patient Activator, that has as one of its features automatic patient surveys.  This application will email patients three days after their visit and ask them to respond to a short survey, and encourage them to write a review of the practice.  It is then posted to a microsite of your practice (more SEO for you), and you can also use the reviews you like on your own website, and also pop them onto your Facebook fan page.

#3. Yelp. The usage of this business review site varies widely city by city, but more and more people are posting reviews about everything, including dentists.  About 70% of US dentists have at least one review, I’ve been told.  You want to invite your patients to do this, ideally while in the office.  The best way is to get a few tablet computers for them to use, as I suggested in a previous blog.  One key point: Yelp gives preference to reviews that are written by frequent reviewers on their site.  This means that if a patient doesn’t normally review on Yelp, the review might not appear, or will not float to the top.  Yelp does not list your reviews chronologically, but by a combination of rating and some more mysterious elements.

#4. Facebook.  This is not technically a review site, but patients can now write “recommendations” on your Facebook fan page, and these are shown separately.  One glitch–if you have not properly categorized your dental practice there will not be a place for recommendations.  I also don’t feel like people use Facebook to see recommendations that much, but rather go to your fan page to see what people post about you, or what you and your team post about yourself.  You should use iPads to get patients do post here as well while they are in the office.

#5. Everywhere Else.  Angie’s List, LinkedIn, CitySearch, Dr. Oogle all have reviews.  Angie’s list is probably the next most important place, but reviews can only be read by subscribers, and only subscribers to the site can post reviews.  It narrows the audience considerably, and also the number of your patients who could review you there.  The site does a wide range of businesses, while Dr. Oogle is strictly health care, but the latter site gets significantly less traffic than all the others.

Reviews will matter more and more, so now is the time to focus on them, but make sure you are getting them in the most advantageous places.  And remember, you don’t need hundreds of reviews.  No one would read that many. But you need a steady stream of fresh ones. Even two a week will add up quickly, and help with your SEO, but I would aim for one a day, and you’ll be well on your way!

Google+Local: What It Means to Dentists

On May 30th, Google changed Google Places to Google+Local.  What does that mean to you as a dentist?  Hopefully, you understand what Google Places is/was, but let’s assume you don’t.  Google Places was a section of the search world where your business showed up in a Google search–either on a Google map, in a browser, or on mobile phone local search.  In that result will be information that Google gathered about your business: what type of business it is, the name, address and phone number. (You’re already there, if you know it or not.) But you as the business owner can add a great deal more information about your business: your hours, your services, promotions, photos, videos, your website address.  All very good stuff for people to find.   And you should have done it by now, but if you haven’t, it’s more important than ever with this new change.

You claim your business and add the information about your practice in the same place as the new Google+Local, which is www.google.com/places.  You find your business there starting by clicking at the button indicated below in red and following the instructions:

You MUST do this for your practice, and fill it with as much information as possible.  Here’s why:

1. It’s free.

2. It now boosts your SEO for your business and your website (which Google Places didn’t).

3. Reviews matter more than ever, and this is where they show up.

4. Search on mobile phones is exploding, meaning you need local listing with a lot of information.

5. Did I mention it’s free?

If you’ve already claimed your Google Places site, your practice will show now up in Google+Local, but looking very different. This is what my friend Craig Spodak’s site looks like.  Notice his fine use of photos.

So why the change?  Because Google wants to vastly expand two areas: local business advertising and social media.  Google+ is their social media equivalent to Facebook, but not a lot of people use it relative to Facebook’s daily activity.  But now, with Google+Local, Google is combining the search result information from Google Places and Google+, and indexing it for SEO purposes.  As I mentioned, this was not done previously, so doing Google Places did nothing for your own business SEO.  But it also means that now the more activity–social activity–that you have, the more your practice will come up in organic search as well.

So just as I recommend weekly activity on Facebook for your practice, you now need to have weekly activity and daily input and reviews from patients on Google+.  That’s the bad news.

The good news is the SEO, and the better look, and the fact that everything is happening in one place.  And no doubt you will be able to do promotions on this as well, for $, of course.  This will change and evolve over time, but Google wants into this space badly, so they are going to keep working it.

What’s different? These three areas:

RATINGS and REVIEWS

Before, there were star ratings from one to five stars.  Those are gone.  Now there is a score, and the score is a bit confusing.  The reason for the score is that last year Google bought Zagat, the travel review business, and it has now incorporated those Zagat reviews and ratings into Google+Local. This has nothing to do with dentistry, as we are not reviewed in Zagat, but the scoring shows up the same.  It is a scale from 1 to 30.  However, when someone reviews your practice on Google, they will rate it on a scale of 0 to 3, and then Google will multiply that by 10, and then average all the scores, just to make it uniform with all the Zagat scoring.  Weird, and it probably will change, but for now that’s how it works.

Your reviews will still show up, but it will be easier for people to write them, though they can still only write a review if they have a gmail address. But you need patient reviews!  This is ever-growing in importance, and Google only presents reviews done on your Google Local site, not any other reviews from anywhere else.

SOCIAL MEDIA INTEGRATION

In a search now, Google will now not only look at the rating and reviews for your business, they will look at both the frequency and content of the various postings and social activity on your Local Page.  Of course they are manipulating you to use Google+, but they are the big dogs, so we must play along.

WHERE IT SHOWS UP

Now this result will appear in several places: if someone searches on Google Maps, or if they simply do a Google search, and also now if they search within Google+, where there is now a “local” tab on the left, as you can see in my Google+ page, where the blue arrow is pointing.

If they search for anything in the top search box, they’ll get a result like this one for Dr. Craig Spodak:

The same results will occur on mobile phones for all three types of searches. (In June, Apple will launch its own mapping app  so it won’t show up on iPhones unless someone uses a Google Map app or a Google+ app on their iPhone.) In a previous blog on smartphones I talked about how prolific and accelerated the use of search will be on mobile phones.  This plays right into that.  Once they click on it, then it will go to your Google Local page.

So what should you do?

First, you need to get your Google Places claimed and fully filled with information.

Second, elicit Google reviews from your patients on a regular basis.

Third, have regular posting activity going on within your Local Page. Don’t spend a lot of time on this, but don’t spend none.

Remember, this is not going to suddenly flood your practice with new patients, but it is going to make you easier to find, and easier to find out about.  And that’s what millions of people will use it for.  So don’t wait another day.  You can add more photos and video as time goes on, but get started now.

By the way, if you are a Patient Activator customer, we’ll walk you through every step of this just to make sure it’s exactly right.

Claiming your Google Place

One of the most important things you can do is claim your business on Google Places and add as much information as possible, including photos and video. If you haven’t done it, go to maps.google.com, enter your practice name and find your practice listing, and when you open it, in the upper right hand corner (like in this page shown) you’ll see “business owner?” Click on that, and they will lead you through the steps to take ownership and edit the info. This is a must- do for every business.

After you claim your page you will want to delete other google places pages that are associated with your business address, google penalizes places with multiple businesses operating out of a single address.

Once you’ve done this, this specific URL is where you want to send your patients to review you on Google.

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