We encourage practices to monitor their reviews online and claim their profiles on listing sites to be able to manage and respond to reviews. To give you an idea of what to expect from each review site, we will be reviewing the most popular sites that patients use to review their physicians. First up is Yelp.com.
Yelp has been popular among patrons of restaurants, hotels, and retail stores for years since it was founded in 2004. While the site does not solely focus on healthcare reviews, patients are starting to review their physicians on Yelp alongside their reviews for other local businesses. Yelp’s partnership with ProPublica has allowed for healthcare statistics and consumer survey data to be displayed on the listings of several hospitals, nursing homes, and dialysis clinics, which may indicate an increased focus on healthcare in the future.
Can practices have a listing, or is the site just for physicians? The listings on Yelp are a mix of all types of businesses, including both physicians and individual practitioners.
Can physicians set up their own profiles? Yes, users can add their own profiles, and can also claim existing profiles.
Are patients required to create an account to leave a review? Yes, Yelp users must sign up to leave a review.
Is there a cost for physicians / patients to use this site? No, accounts are free for both users and business owners.
How the Rating System Works
Yelp ratings are based on a 5-star system. Users can only give an overall star rating and supply a written review. Because Yelp is for all businesses, there are not more specific rating categories. Yelp uses an algorithm to find the reviews they think will be the most helpful; these are called “Recommended Reviews.”
While Yelp does not spell out the specific criteria for a review to be recommended, they do say that recommended reviews tend to reflect the opinions of the Yelp community and come from users who actively contribute helpful and reliable reviews. Essentially, the algorithm tries to distinguish helpful, insightful reviews from unhelpful rants and raves. Only the recommended reviews are factored into a business’s overall rating and review count, but reviews that are not recommended can still be viewed via a link under the section for recommended reviews.
How Physicians Can Use the Site
Physicians or practices can create a free profile on Yelp and claim their listing. To do this, simply search for your practice on Yelp and click the “Claim your business” link on the listing. You will be prompted to create a profile. Yelp may also call your practice number and prompt you to enter a verification code to prove that you are the owner of the practice. Unfortunately, there is no way for a physician or practice to provide more information about specialties because Yelp encompasses several service areas, not just physicians and medical practices.
Once you have claimed your Yelp listing, you are able to respond to reviews both privately and publicly. You are also able to update your listing information, add photos, and get analytics data for your listing. The Business Analytics account feature allows you to track traffic to your Yelp page and see how many Yelp users have called your business, clicked on map directions, or clicked through to your website. There is also a “Revenue Estimate” tool that allows you to calculate an estimate of the revenue brought in from Yelp users.
Yelp account features are completely free; you only pay if you want to advertise on Yelp. Yelp is very clear in stating that business owners who pay for ads do not receive any preferential treatment on their site. They even link to independent studies and reports that prove that advertisers do not get preferential treatment. Advertisers do not get higher ranking for their business pages, nor can they have negative reviews removed. Conversely, businesses who do not advertise on Yelp are not negatively affected in terms of ranking. Basically, Yelp’s organic rankings are an even playing field for both advertisers and non-advertisers alike.
Handling False Reviews
Yelp will not arbitrate disputes about false reviews. However, you can report a review to Yelp administrators if it is a clear violation of the content guidelines. Examples of violations include a review that is admittedly not a firsthand experience or reviews that contain threats or hate speech. “Colorful language” is okay though, so Yelp is unlikely to remove a review that simply contains profanity.
Yelp encourages business owners to respond to reviews, either privately or publicly, to resolve disputes about negative or false reviews. However, they warn that business owners should be diplomatic in their responses and avoid responding with criticism, as a critical approach usually backfires for the business.
Popularity in Search Results
We looked at a few different metrics to determine popularity in search results. First, we looked at the Alexa Score. The Alexa Score is a ranking of the most popular and highly-visited websites, based on the amount of traffic the site has. In the U.S., Yelp has an Alexa score of 38, meaning it is the 38th most popular website in the country.
Next, we looked to Moz, an SEO software service, to determine the root domains linking to Yelp. This number tells us how many other websites are linking to Yelp. According to Moz, 8,122,816 other sites are linking to Yelp.
Finally, we turned to another SEMRush, another SEO tool, to get an estimate of the monthly organic traffic to the site. According to SEMRush, Yelp has about 96,100,000 organic visits per month. This number only includes visitors who found Yelp organically and does not include visits from paid search and advertising.