You can learn a lot about getting Google and Yelp reviews (that don't get filtered) after asking 1,000,000 patients to write a review for you. Please note that we did not personally ask a million patients to write a review for us, but our customers did and here's what we learned from them.
Rule #1: If you want Google reviews, ask your patients to review you on Google and provide a link directly to your Google Business page. If you want Yelp reviews (that don't get filtered) ask your patients to review you on Google ... just make sure that you have a link to your Yelp business listing for active Yelpers. An active Yelper will write a review for you on Yelp even if they tell you they will review you on Google. Make it easy for them to do so. You should never ask a patient to go to Yelp (or automatically open an app on their phone that takes them to Yelp) to write a review. Asking patients to go to Yelp is against Yelp's TOS and they will more than likely filter all of those reviews.
By the way, Yelp is a big deal ... not because patients go to Yelp to read about your practice, but because they go to Bing, Yahoo and Apple (all of which show Yelp reviews) to read about your practice. If you're ignoring Yelp because they've filtered your reviews in the past, you're making a big mistake. Learn from your mistake and take full advantage of what Yelp has to offer.
Rule #2: If you want to get the highest response rate from your patients and the most reviews, send the review request to your patients manually while they are engaged with you or your front office staff. Patients are four times more likely to write a review for you if they are engaged with you when you send them the review request. Let me say that again. Your patients are four times more likely to respond to your review request if they are engaged with you (or your staff) when you send them the request.
If you or your staff are too busy to send a review request manually, you can always send it automatically through your scheduling software or through any of the review gathering services including the Five Star Review System on Best Local reviews, but your response rate will suffer for it. Yes, you will get Google reviews, but not at the rate of 400 Google reviews/year. If you send a review request after your patient leaves your office, your response rate will be 1/4 of what it will be if you send the request to them manually while they're engaged with you or your staff when you send the request. Engagement is the key to review success.
Rule #3: Make sure the last thing you say to a patient after they offer to write a review is "I'm looking forward to reading your comments." This one phrase will increase your response rate by 20%.
Rule #4: It is not OK to reward your patients for writing a review. It's against the TOS of every review site on the Internet, it's against the law and it's downright yucky. You can however reward your staff for getting reviews from your patients. Based on our experience the best reward system we've see so far is to reward your staff members individually, not as a group. And the most effective reward we've seen is to provide your staff with a $50 gift card or cash for every five Google reviews they get or a combination of Google reviews and Yelp reviews written by active Yelpers. When you reward people for getting 5 reviews, they will work very hard to get 5 reviews.
Two weeks ago one of our dentists told me that she had to stop rewarding her staff for getting Google reviews because she could not afford to pay them for all the Google reviews they were getting. We should be so lucky.
Rule #5: If your patients like you, they will jump through fiery hoops to write a review for you. In layman's terms that means if your patients like you, they will take the extra effort to create a Google account (if they don't already have one) in order to reward you with a review. Nothing is more important when it comes to getting 5-star reviews than your likeability. Nothing!
(If you want to learn more about the laws of likeability, here is Bob’s article on the 12 laws of likeability.)
Rule #6: Don't send a review request to your patients by text only. Text is great but nothing is more effective than a combination of text and email. Either give your patients a choice as to how they want to receive their review request or send them an email and ask if they would like to receive the review request by text too. This plays a HUGE factor in your success in getting reviews.
Rule #7: Don't ask patients to write online reviews while they're in your office. Half of the people who do, will resent you for it. You may get more reviews that way, but at the cost of getting referrals from those patients. Let your patients who want to review you while they're in your office do so, but make it clear that they can write their review at their convenience. And never let a patient write a review on your computer or from your IP address. It will likely be flagged as fraudulent and get filtered by Yelp or Google.
Bonus tips on getting online reviews for your dental practice:
The exception to this rule is if your staff member is more likable and has a better relationship with your patient than you do. If you're fortunate enough to have someone like this working for you, congratulations.
If you're interested in learning more about my style of SEO, known as "The Invisalinks Method," feel free to check out my dental SEO course, or my done-for-you SEO service for dentists.