Offering Incentives for Online Reviews

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Can I Offer Incentives in Exchange for Online Reviews?

No.

It is no secret that gathering online reviews for your practice is beneficial in order to help your search engine visibility, however, offering prizes, gifts, or other incentives for these reviews is against the policies of review sites and may result in having your reviews removed, flagged, or filtered.

We love to see our clients gung-ho about improving their marketing campaigns by increasing their online review count, but we want to make sure that you collect your reviews in a fair and legal way.

In a nutshell, offering incentives for reviews compromises the integrity of the review and doesn’t provide a fair and unbiased representation of your practice. Increasing your online review count can be accomplished by either simply asking patients to leave a review or by using a third-party review site.

Here are the review guidelines from Yelp, Google, and Facebook:

Yelp:

Yelp is definitely the strictest with their policies regarding online reviews. They very clearly state that you may not offer incentives for reviews and also may flag accounts that they believe are violating their review policy.

“Don’t ever offer freebies, discounts, or payment in exchange for reviews — it will turn off savvy consumers, and may also be illegal. Yelp has a Consumer Alerts Program to let people know about businesses that engage in this sort of activity.”

Read more about Yelp’s review policy here and about their Consumer Alerts penalty here.

Google:

Over time, Google has updated the way they phrase their guidelines for online reviews but it remains clear that offering incentives for reviews is against their policies.

“Conflict of interest: Reviews are most valuable when they are honest and unbiased. If you own or work at a place, please don’t review your own business or employer. Don’t offer or accept money, products, or services to write reviews for a business or to write negative reviews about a competitor. If you’re a business owner, don’t set up review stations or kiosks at your place of business just to ask for reviews written at your place of business.”

Read more about Google’s review policy here.

Facebook:

Facebook is definitely the vaguest in their language regarding their stance on incentivizing reviews. Essentially, they require that reviews be related to the product or service and be based on personal experience. When monitoring any content on Facebook, they always refer back to their Community Standards Rules, which outline how they regulate posts on their website.

Read more about Facebook’s review guidelines and Community Standards.

Still need help?

If you ever have questions about how to best collect online reviews, feel free to reach out to us. We not only can help make your website as user-friendly as possible to encourage reviews, we also offer Review Automation! This service is great for dentists who need extra help asking their patients for reviews. Read more about this service here.


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