Reputation marketing – FOCUS ON

Leonard F. Tau, DMD, talks about improving your firm’s web presence, generating positive reviews, and how to handle negative reviews.

Q: I have more reviews than other firms. Why am I not ranked high in Google search results?

A: Getting a high number of reviews for your firm is just one of two important parts of ranking in Google search results. Beyond reviews, it’s important to stay on top of how your practice appears in local citations. Local citations are links or references to your business on other websites, such as SEO websites, including Yelp and To maximize the impact on your search results, you need to ensure that your firm’s name, address, and phone number are consistent across major local citation sites. This is because, generally, a dentist with less reviews but better local quotes will outperform a similar practice with the opposite. Together, positive, regular, recent reviews and consistent, robust local citations will help you increase Google’s search engine results page (SERP).

Q: How can I increase my online visibility?

A: Start with a Google Business Profile if you don’t have one. Simply type “Google Business Profile” into Google itself to get started. This gives you a customizable panel to enter information relevant to your business. It acts as the “anchor point” for local citations, as many sites pull information from your Google Business Profile.

Next, rate your practice using This will analyze your local citations and give you a score of zero to 100%. The higher your score, the better your practice will perform in local searches, and therefore, the more potential patients will see your website.

Q: What practical actions can I take to improve my performance in local searches?

A: The work here will vary depending on your current web presence and reputation. Typically, you want to increase links and referrals to your website from other sites and generate a steady stream of positive reviews. These references are frequently referred to as NAP or NAPW: your name, address, phone number, and website. The more these references, the better your score. Make sure these are consistent across all SEO websites.

Q: How can I get more positive reviews?

A: Build intentional feedback collection into your workflows as a practice. For example, at the end of a dental implant procedure, most practices say something like, “Thank you for choosing us; here are the details of your follow-up care,” then move on to a financial transaction.

Instead, focus on the positive transformation you just provided by saying, “Now you can eat whatever you want!” or “What do you think of your new smile?” and listen to what they have to say. Then tell them they’ll get a text later asking for feedback (not a “review”). People stop when you ask for a review because it feels like work. But if you ask their opinion, they feel important (because they are). In your text, include a link to leave a Google review.

Google Reviews are most important due to their automatic integration with Google Business Profile and Google SERP. Even if you get a 5% review rate, that’s pretty high. You will receive a review for every 20 satisfied patients who leave your practice. Also consider incentivizing your team to request/collect reviews by setting goals and rewards based on positive patient reviews.

Q: What if someone leaves a bad review, and it’s fake, or multiple, or someone with a grudge?

A: Sometimes a former employee or a particularly disgruntled patient will intentionally try to sabotage your reviews. It happens. In this situation, report reviews and submit a ticket to the review site where they left off. This doesn’t guarantee reviews will be removed, but it does give you a chance.

Either way, don’t get caught up in an online war of words. This is often what they want, and it can be viewed negatively by others. Instead, contact the patient directly offline, if you know them, and try to have a positive conversation. Many times it will update or delete the review after that.

Q: What are the best ways to handle a truly negative review?

A: First, don’t panic. To get hundreds of positive reviews online, you will also get a few bad ones. You really can’t please everyone, and frankly, some patients are impossible to please. It’s a good thing too, because it makes the positives more legitimate. If you only have 5-star reviews, people think you bought them or manipulated the system. Then take a moment to learn from the reviews. Even if it sounds mean, look for any legitimate reviews.

Finally, do not challenge the patient in public. Take the conversation offline. See what you can do to improve the situation. Don’t be defensive. Often, patients change their opinions to something more positive. Then move on and work on getting more positive reviews.

Q: What are some worse practices when it comes to collecting positive reviews?

A: In the end, it boils down to this: don’t try to control your patients or your opinions. Never create a fake person to leave positive reviews for your practice. Don’t force or coerce your patients to leave reviews. Do not encourage patients to leave reviews. Don’t ask patients to see you in your office. These violate Google and Yelp’s terms and almost always backfire.

To finish, never, already, already sue a patient for a bad review. You will get your 15 minutes of fame in the worst possible way, with a destroyed reputation.


Dr. Tau earned her DMD degree from Tufts University School of Dental Medicine in Boston.

He is the author of Delirious patients and 100 tips for 100 reviews in 100 days.

Dr. Tau lectures internationally on Internet and reputation marketing.

He can be reached at [email protected]

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