Although the big July 21st Google Places update affected ALL 3rd party review sources, the most talked about was DemandForce. DemandForce offers a valuable practice-building service to Dentists. (And other industries, but they are most well known in Dental.) Adding patient reviews to Google Places is a FREE VALUE-ADD, not their core service. Many DemandForce Dentists had 200+ patient reviews which helped those Dentists rank high in Google. Lots of Dentists signed up with DF primarily to boost reviews and Google rankings. Now Google has removed all those review, so it has many concerned.

The DemandForce review model is often questioned, criticized and IMO usually totally misunderstood. (I’m a DF Partner, full disclosure below.) Not my mission to defend or explain it all in this post. Just trying to give a brief overview before I launch into the main point. (Although I share thoughts/advice about DF below.)

One of my Dentist’s informed me yesterday that DemandForce had blogged a response to the Google update. So I wanted to share it here. It also includes a template Dentists can use to get direct Google reviews. IT WORKS! See comment from another one of my Dentists below the image and quote.

But 1st I wanted to share a video I did for my personal Dentist featuring one of his great DemandForce reviews.

Marler Campbell Dental Group Reviews in Escondido, CA

Or watch video on Tumbler: Marler Campbell Dental Group Reviews

An Update Regarding Recent Google Places Page Formatting Changes
Late last week, Google made yet another update to its Google Places Pages. We’d like to take this opportunity to explain these changes and review the suite of world-class reputational marketing tools that Demandforce offers to help our customers increase the value of their online reputation.

Reputation Builder was introduced earlier this year as a way for our customers to draw on their active customer base and encourage activity on a variety of other social ecosystems where the business may want to do some work. These emails, just like all other email and text communications sent through our system, are always free for Demandforce Customers to send. A great way to increase the number of native reviews on Google is to execute a Reputation Builder for Google Places campaign. To the left is a sample of what the Google Places message looks like.

Evidently that template works. One of my Dentists wrote:

“I sent out that Google Places email from Demandforce and got 15 reviews the very next day. Works well. Just remember every single patient who is active and has an email address gets the email. I got a couple of poor reviews because of this. Not that big a deal as I do not mind a negative review here and there. Makes me a real person.”

So others that are reading this post, who may not even be working in the Dental field, should make note of the wording of that piece and possibly customize and use something similar for your own patient/customer base.

Before I launch into some DemandForce specific info, let me quote again what I posted yesterday about the update and 3rd party reviews in general.

From what I can tell this was ONLY a front end cosmetic change NOT a back end change that affects the algo or ranking and most pros agree.

In some quick ranking checks I’ve done, it appears the lack of 3rd party reviews showing up in the count and lack of citations on the Place page, DID NOT affect rankings. Regardless of how many 3rd reviews were removed from the COUNT everyone’s ranking stayed the same. I’ve checked tons of Dentists for example that had over 200 reviews and 300 citations due to DemandForce, that dropped to down to 5 Google reviews. They still rank on page 1 where they did before.

So from what I’m seeing right now anyway, this does not devalue 3rd party reviews or citations. Even though they don’t show, they are still counted in the back end!

In a nutshell, here’s how I feel about DF as it pertains to this algo change.

My feeling is that the decision to use DemandForce all along should be a decision based primarily on the core practice-building features it offers. The fact that it also helped boost your Google Places reviews was IMHO a free value add. I don’t think Drs. and other DemandForce clients should have added DemandForce ONLY to boost Google reviews. Google is too fickle and you can’t count on her to keep things the same for very long.

However if you are already a DemandForce client rest assured your DF reviews are still helping your ranking even if they do not prominently show.

REVIEW STRATEGY – Before you go and focus on exclusively building up a ton of Google Places reviews, keep this in mind. Google VERY OFTEN accidentally loses or purposely deletes reviews. You can find hundreds of companies in the forum who worked for years to build up G reviews only to lose them all.

I offer review strategy tips and review-building training to my clients and one of the most important things I recommend is review diversification for a number of reasons. (Ease for patients/customers is one of the reasons). Get enough G reviews so it will look good to prospective patients/customers and help you stand out from your competitors in your local market, but then shift focus to get reviews on 2 other primary sources as well. There are tools that make this easy. Some review sources are safer than others so you need to understand the review ecosystem in your market. But don’t put all your eggs in the Google basket!

Full Disclosure – I am a DemandForce Partner. (Which simply means I am listed at the top of their partner page and they refer clients to me who need help with Google Places.) I also refer Dentists to them because I have a practice management background and believe in the practice-building aspects of the service IN ADDITION TO the review piece. But I’m not sticking up for them because I am a partner. Just telling it like it is.

DemandForce has tons of features and benefits BESIDES reviews,
PLUS the DemandForce reviews still count in the algo

DemandForce did not pay me to write this or ask me to write this and they won’t even know about it til I hit publish. They didn’t even inform me of their blog post, one of my Dentists alerted me. So the opinions stated here are purely my own.

You can find more comments regarding DemandForce and this update from myself and others in the following posts over at Mike’s blog.

Will the Change in Status of 3rd Party Reviews Affect Rank in Google Places?

Google Places Gains New Ally in Review Battle with Yelp This one has a much LONGER overview about what DemandForce does and how it works according to me in comment 6, for anyone that’s interested in reading it all.