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Dentists’ top 3 misconceptions about Yelp

Feb. 13, 2017
Do you think all Yelp reviews are negative or that Yelp isn't for the dental industry? Think again! Dentists, your misconceptions about Yelp might be keeping you from many potential new patients.
Do you think all Yelp reviews are negative or that Yelp isn't for the dental industry? Think again! Dentists, your misconceptions about Yelp might be keeping you from many potential new patients.

Yelp is a restaurant review site, so why would dentists need to make it a part of their day? You’re not taking your office manager to lunch, right? Wrong! Nearly 80% of patients use online review sites as their first step to finding a new doctor, according to a 2014 Software Advice survey. Yelp is the online review site they trust, and they’re turning to it when they’re in need of a dentist in their area.

There are many misconceptions about Yelp in the dental industry and that has lead to a lack of engagement from dentists and dental offices. By understanding the truth behind these three misconceptions, you will better understand how to put your best foot forward and start seeing new patients through Yelp.

For most dentists, knowing how potential patients are using Yelp and learning how to use Yelp as a referral tool has made all the difference. Here are three myths and tips to get you started:

1. “I have no control over my Yelp page.”

All business owners have access to a suite of free tools to optimize and update their Yelp listings. You can claim your Yelp for Business Owners Account by visiting Once you have completed the claiming process, you will walk through the steps to verify your hours, website, address, and phone number. From there you’ll want to add (1) a specialties section that describes what sets you apart from other dentists and (2) the specific services you offer.

Pro tips: All Yelp users search differently. Some may search “teeth cleaning” while others search for “dentist.” The more details you include about your services and special offerings, the more your business will be found. If you have a unique product or service you offer, you should be sure to add that to your profile to give you an edge.

You can also show off your business with visuals. People searching for a new dentist are probably a bit timid or nervous about the experience. Set them at ease! You can upload an unlimited number of photos, so take some pictures of your waiting area, your staff, and yourself. Upload them to your page to give potential patients a visual experience before they even say “ahhhh.”

2. “Most Yelp reviews are negative.”

Nearly 80% of the reviews written on Yelp are positive (three stars or higher). There are more five-star reviews on Yelp, than one-, two-, and three-star reviews combined. Yelpers want to share their experiences and, more importantly, recommend great dentists to other patients. There are times when an experience is bad, and those reviews definitely exist, but the main focus of the site and the users is helping other consumers find great local businesses they enjoy. If you provide that exceptional service that you enjoy receiving the five-star reviews will come.

3. “I should ask my patients for reviews.”

Yelp doesn’t encourage businesses to ask for reviews. Asking patients to “leave a review on Yelp,” can cause people to feel as if they’re being used rather than valued. This may leave them with a negative impression of your business. Also, those reviews might not be recommended by Yelp’s review recommendation software.

So what can you do? Leave a trail of breadcrumbs and the reviews will follow! Have you ever seen a “Find Us On Yelp” sticker? They’re free for your business and you can request one here. Visit to see approved stickers, signage, and hyperlinks. These are great for e-mail signatures and on your website. You want customers who are finding you through ways other than Yelp to know that you pay attention to your Yelp listing as well. They’ll be more inclined to leave you feedback there.

Pro tips: Set up a Check-in Offer! Having a Check-in Offer helps you look more appealing to mobile customers searching on Yelp. When they see a promotion (e.g., free whitening strips when they get a prophy), they are given one more incentive to schedule their appointment with you. Also, whenever they check into a business, users are prompted to write a review for that business the next time they use Yelp.

Patients are turning to Yelp to find a dentist when they need one. Take control of your free Business Owner's Account and start engaging with your patients and potential patients today!

Emily Washcovick is a business outreach manager at Yelp. She hosts informational sessions with local business owners across North America to educate them on best practices for navigating the world of online reviews. She works with local business owners interested in utilizing Yelp to help grow their business. She also hosts a series of webinars on subjects relevant to business owners and regularly contributes content to Yelp's Blog for Business Owners. Emily also acts as a liaison between the small business community and the different divisions within Yelp.
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