Review spam is rampant, especially in certain industries like locksmiths, movers, plumbers, carpet cleaners and some others. But I don’t normally see a lot of it in the Dental industry. One of the reasons I picked Dentistry as my Google Places niche (besides the fact I have a strong background in Dental) is the fact that I feel Dentists for the most part are genuine, honest business people.

Fake Reviews So it’s disturbing to me to find Dental practices that APPEAR to me to be higher end, very nice offices who are paying for fake reviews to game Google. Some Dentists may not realize it, but not only are fake reviews a violation that could cause you to LOSE your Place page but fake reviews ARE AGAINST THE LAW and can get you in trouble with the FTC!

I’m going to “OUT” some Dentists that are buying fake reviews today. (See links and screen shots below) And if you are a Dentist, I’ll show you how easy it is to figure out if reviews are fake. Hopefully you don’t have any dishonest unethical Dentists in your market, but if you do – I’ll tell you how to report them to Google.

I don’t necessarily enjoy ‘ratting’ people out. But fake review spam hurts everyone on several different levels. It makes it hard for honest Dentists to compete fairly. It forces Google to tighten the review spam algo which OFTEN results in even REAL patient reviews being mistakenly deleted as spam. But not only that, the more fake reviews that are out there, the more consumers do not trust reviews at all, which hurts everyone.

Also see 11/17 UPDATE below (ORIGINAL POST ABOVE WAS FROM 11/15)

Art of the Smile This high end Dentist HAD a bunch of fake Google Places reviews. They were reported on the Google Maps forum for spam. I did a bunch of research and saw all the fake reviews, but by the time I went to publish this post Google deleted all the fake reviews. Google LIKELY ALSO REMOVED SOME HONEST REVIEWS FROM REAL PATIENTS IN THE PROCESS. This practice could also get suspended or suffer a ranking penalty.

My question/comment to this Dentist: Is it really worth all the money you paid for these fake reviews to move up a couple spots, when you risk losing it all??? Lying and cheating your way to the top of Google does not pay!

Michael Hopkins DDS – Place Page with FAKE Reviews – This appears to be another nice higher end practice. HOWEVER his Place page is not well optimized AND REALLY IMPORTANT HE’S – NOT EVEN GETTING THE FULL BENEFIT FROM DEMAND FORCE BECAUSE IT’S NOT EVEN SET UP RIGHT!!! So here’s a Dentist PAYING for FRAUDULENT reviews that could get him banned, could even get him in trouble with the FTC and all he needs to do is DO HIS MARKETING CORRECTLY and invest in DOING IT ETHICALLY and he would be fine!!!

Here are two of the many fake “patients” that left reviews for Dr. Hopkins: George with 172 Fake Reviews. Oh and here’s a screen shot for posterity in case Google deletes either the Drs. reviews or George’s fake review account. You can see some other Dentist’s George reviewed in other parts of the country and as well as other types of businesses all over the world. Here’s another happy patient of Dr. Hopkin’s. Gloria – 54 Fake Reviews screen shot. Hmm weird. Gloria went to many of the same Dentists in other parts of the country that George did. That’s odd. 😉 Click every review and almost all of them are like that. Different reviewers all reviewing the same set of companies all over the world.

Here are some more Dentists who bought fake reviews from the same company.

Michael D. Carley DDS – Not only is this Dentist using the same FAKE review company and breaking the law, he’s also violating Google guidelines and that could get him banned. (I see George and Gloria and many of the other reviewers from Dr. Hopkin’s Place page above also go to this Dentist too. Interesting…)

Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Atlanta – More fake reviews – same company.

Alegria Dental Center – More fake reviews – same company.

You get the picture. I’ll stop there – won’t bust any more Dentists today. 😉

How do I know these are fake reviews? It’s EASY to tell when you know what to look for. No consumer on earth does business with a Dentist, a plumber, a locksmith, a garage door company, a pest control company, a spa, an accountant and a remodeling company ALL in DIFFERENT STATES, EVEN DIFFERENT COUNTRIES ALL IN THE SAME WEEK! These are all obviously fake reviews done by the same company and you can follow these reviewers around and find a huge web of deceit. Just click to some of the other businesses these guys review and you’ll find other reviewers all reviewing the same list of clients all over the country/world.

ABOUT THIS FAKE REVIEW COMPANY. In defense of these Drs. although I don’t condone fake reviews at all, I can pretty much guarantee these guys all got snookered by a really slick pitch from a fairly high end reputation management company. I say that because the reviews are fairly well written as opposed to some low end fake review companies. So Dentists be careful with reputation management companies and know exactly what they’ll be doing for you. (I have not yet tracked down the roots of this one to find out who the company actually is, but you can be sure when I do I’ll be reporting them directly to upper management at Google Places to be sure they are investigated by the Google spam team.)

So what do you do if you find a competitor on Google Places is buying fake reviews? Report them! Go to the bottom of their Place page and click the “Report a problem” link. Then select “Listing contains incorrect information or spam” and explain the situation. There is so much spam Google does not always act on every case BUT reporting them will still help the algo to filter out more spam.


GETTING HONEST PATIENT REVIEWS

I have a whole training program I give my Dental clients that teaches the Dentist and staff how to EASILY get HONEST patient reviews. It even gives them a complete system including a very nice template. The review training is pretty long and I customize the template for each practice, so it’s not really something I could share in a blog post, but I’ve given away lots of review tips here in the blog, just search for reviews.

Additionally if you are a DemandForce or Lighthouse client, Did you realize you can set up both of those solutions to help you build up your Google reviews too? Pretty hot solution and it totally automates the Google review process. If you are a DF or Lighthouse customer, I assume you know how to do this. If you don’t know how just ask and I’ll be happy to explain.

HAPPY REVIEW GETTING!

And remember MARKET WITH INTEGRITY and EVERYONE WINS!

UPDATE 11/17 – Here’s some info on the other side of the coin. Above I talk about companies buying fake reviews. The opposite side of the spectrum is companies that have HONEST reviews they have worked hard for that get deleted or lost by Google.

Here’s one thread at the Google Places forum I’ve been involved with that so far has 85 companies reporting lost reviews, some have lost 25 or more honest reviews. And that’s just ONE of many threads, there are TONS more!

Vanessa, the Google Places Community Manager just wrote:

All: There are many reasons why a review may not appear on your Place page. We’re constantly working to make sure our reviews are legit and high-quality. And so to do this, we have systems in place that may remove individual reviews (ones that we find to be spammy or abusive). Some of you guys may be experiencing these review takedowns. Sometimes our systems may remove legitimate reviews in our effort to cut down on the abuse, but overall we believe these measures are for the good of presenting quality reviews on Google.

So that’s one of the by products of this review spam. Honest reviews sometimes get lost too.

====================================================

ALSO found another Dentist’s Place page I wanted to post. Besides getting popped by Google or the FTC, you can also get BUSTED by your own patients or another Dr. that wants to call you out on your fake reviews.

Check out Dr. Mariana Conant’s Place page. Her main Place page is now consumed with 2 people outing her about fake reviews and her trying to defend herself. THAT looks lovely to potential new patients doesn’t it???

Here’s a screenshot of the complaint reviews and her comments for posterity in case Google decides to delete all her reviews.