What Practices Need to Know About Google’s Review Guidelines

May 15, 2023
3 min read

What Chiropractic Practices Need to Know about Google’s Review Guidelines

Many practices don’t know the essential details of Google’s review guidelines. And that, if violated, could result in Google flagging your Google Business Profile account and taking down your reviews.

When asking your patients for new reviews, ensure you’re staying compliant with Google’s terms of service. Here’s what every practice needs to know about Google’s review guidelines.

How to Request a Google Review

It’s no secret that amping up your practice’s online reviews is a great way to improve your local search rankings and attract new patients.

But how do you decide which patients you ask to leave you a Google review? If you ask only those you know are satisfied, you could violate Google’s review guidelines.

It’s seemingly harmless, but if you’re cherry-picking which patients you ask for a review based on who you think will leave positive feedback, you’re doing what’s known as “review gating.”

Google takes review gating very seriously.

In its review guidelines, Google explicitly states that businesses shouldn’t “discourage or prohibit reviews or selectively solicit positive feedback from customers.”

The search engine made this change to its Terms of Service back in 2018, but if you’re not familiar with the details of the guidelines, you could miss it.

If you ask every patient to write a review, you’ll inevitably receive some not-so-positive feedback, but think about it as an opportunity. Publicly responding to negative feedback (appropriately) can show people your practice’s dedication to customer service.

Review gating might seem harmless, but it’s not worth the risk. Remember, Google can remove all your online reviews for violating its guidelines.

How Many Patient Reviews Can You Request at Once?

When you put a system in place to get more online reviews, it’s tempting to ask every patient in your patient management software to leave a review at the same time. However, if you send out a mass request, you could also violate Google’s review guidelines.

Google’s policy says businesses shouldn’t “solicit reviews from customers in bulk.”

It might sound counterintuitive, but getting a steady stream of reviews over time is better than receiving dozens at once. That’s because recent reviews carry more weight with potential customers than old ones. According to a BrightLocal survey, 40% of consumers only read reviews written within the past two weeks.

If most of your practice’s reviews are from several months (or even years) ago, it could be a red flag for someone looking for a new provider.

At Zingit, we automatically ask your patients for Google reviews following a specified interval after their appointment. As a result, you keep receiving a steady stream of recent and relevant reviews.

What Can You Offer Patients in Exchange for Reviews?

Waiting and hoping your patients leave positive reviews isn’t a great strategy to improve your online reviews. Yet, if you’re considering offering your patients an incentive to leave a review, think again.

Google’s review guidelines say a business shouldn’t “offer… money in exchange for reviews.” While the guidelines don’t explicitly prohibit offering something like a cup of coffee for a Google review, any kind of incentive certainly violates the spirit of the rule.

A 2020 survey shows that 68% of customers will leave a review if you ask them. No incentive necessary!

Who Owns Your Practice’s Reviews?

Let’s say your practice has an excellent reputation on Google and gets new reviews every week. You want to use some of your positive feedback on your website or social media. No problem, right?

Well, not exactly.

Even though your patient is leaving a review on your practice’s Google Business Profile listing, you don’t own the review. According to Google’s review guidelines, your online reviews belong to your patients.

Google requires you to obtain consent from the reviewer if you want to use the review for your marketing purposes.

The good news is that if you ask and receive permission from your patient, you can use their review content for marketing your practice.

How Should You Describe Your Google Rating?

Describing your Google rating is another review guideline that can be missed easily. If you want to tout your star rating on Google, avoid using phrases like “Google-rated” and “Google rating.”

Google doesn’t rate your practice—your patients do. If you have a 5-star rating, specify it’s a “5-star rating on Google” and not a “Google 5-star rating.” It’s a subtle difference, but it’s one that Google specifically prohibits in its review guidelines. Additionally, if you’re talking about your ratings on Google, Google expects you to include an “as of” date.

Getting more Google reviews is a proven way to boost your presence in local search results, but Google will punish you for violating its guidelines.

If you want to see how Zingit helps our clients get more reviews automatically (on average, 23 new reviews in the first month), sign up for a free demo.

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