FAKE Patient Review Spam – Dentists Don’t Stoop to This Level for Google Places Rankings

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011 at 1:04pm by Linda Buquet

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’ Dentists out. But fake reviews hurt everyone on several 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.

CLICK TO GO TO MY MAIN GOOGLE PLACES BLOG – The full post is there and I name names and share tons of info that could help you get more patient reviews ETHICALLY.

Google Places Optimization for Dentists and Dental Local SEO Marketing – Content Moved

Saturday, August 27th, 2011 at 2:02pm by Linda Buquet

Sorry I have not been updating the Dental marketing blog recently because all the important Google Places and Local SEO news gets updated on my MAIN Blog. Please visit the Google Places Optimization Blog to stay on top of all the recent Google Places and local SEO changes that affect the Dental industry.

Here is a sampling of important recent posts, however please subscribe to the main Catalyst blog to stay on top of all the latest Google changes and ranking tips.

MAJOR Google Places Update – 3rd Party Reviews and Citations Removed from Counts

DemandForce Responds to Google Places July Update: Dentists – See Google Review Templates

Tale of 2 Google Places Algorithms – Organic vs Places Ranking Factors Revealed

Google Places Bug Makes Listings Disappear for 6-10 Weeks – They call this a HICCUP???

A Potpourri of New Google Places Changes, Bugs, Tips, Updates – Including New Places Short URL

Tons more great info where that came from…

Please visit the main Google Places Optimization Blog here or Subscribe to RSS here.

Dentists – Easy New Google Places and Organic SEO Rank Tracking Software

Thursday, April 14th, 2011 at 2:33pm by Linda Buquet

Happy to announce that there is finally a great solution for tracking Google Places ranking results. Not only that, but this brand new tool also checks Bing Local, Yahoo Local AND your organic rankings PLUS tracks your rankings on 3rd party directories like Yelp & Superpages.

I’ve been BETA testing a variety of Google Places tools and the one I’m most excited about just launched.

Since they just launched with the new site and interface I have not done a custom report with my logo and branding yet. But here’s a basic report I did for one of my Dentists a week ago just so you can see how the PDF report looks.

CLICK IMAGE TO SEEFULL SIZE DENTIST RANKING REPORT
Google Places Rank Tracking Software Tools

NOTES: This shows several #1 rankings I got this Dentist AFTER optimizing his Place page. But we just optimized his site to help boost his Places rankings, so now most of the other page 1 rankings we got him are a little higher too. I only ran Google organic and Google Places and deselected Bing Local, Yahoo Local and directories.

CLICK HERE to read the full post at my MAIN Internet marketing blog and sign up for the 30 day FREE trial.

Let me know if you have any questions or want me to run a free report for you.

Google Places Updates and News for Dentists

Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 1:28pm by Linda Buquet

There is SO much news about Google Places that I have been unable to keep this Dental blog updated. Please start reading and subscribe to my MAIN Google Places blog to keep up with the ever-changing world of local marketing and Google Places.

Latest Important Google Place News from Linda’s Other Blog

Google Places Changes Galore – Hotpot, Huber and Hope

Due to the reorg at Google last week there have been TONS of changes at Google Places. ESPECIALLY if you are one that has suffered from Google bugs or lack of support – this is a must read summary of the news you need to know. HotPot gets eaten up by Google Places and is no more. Conversation with the new head or Google Places and lots more.

Google Places Help – Renewed Hope Google Places will Improve

I’m a big believer in the Google Places model and what it can and SHOULD be… but I’ve been a vocal critic of the buggy beta-like tech problems, faulty data scraping mechanism and total lack of support for small businesses. I talked to a Google rep who told me

$1200 Google Places Extortion Scam – Careful who you Hire

Here are 2 stories about Google Places scams to watch out for. Lots of unethical SEOs are out there trying to prey on small businesses. Be careful who you hire to optimize your Google Places page. One of my clients had an SEO extort him for #1200 to buy his own Place page back. Read the story here.

Google Places for Dentists – List of MAJOR Google Places Problems and Bugs

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 at 10:54am by Linda Buquet

Here’s the real deal with Google Places. People like me that deal with it every day realize that the product is so buggy that it should be called BETA and should NOT be a self-service product with ZERO support! (See the list of MAJOR bugs below. I know solutions to some of these problems or have posted G updates to bugs if available.)

Dentists have no idea how buggy Google Places is! So when they hit a roadblock they think it’s just an isolated incident a tech at Google should be able to help them with. They think a company as big as Google should have a number to call or support email at least. But, there is NO SUPPORT! Zilch! Only the forum, where volunteer labor (like yours truly) tries to help.

When things are broken at Google Places… when there are bugs, gremlins, system errors and all type of problems that volunteer advice can’t solve, it takes Google engineers to fix them.

WHERE ARE THE GOOGLE PLACES ENGINEERS??? Google is putting so much emphasis on local, mobile, hotpot etc. Where are the resources to make the CORE service, the FOUNDATION of it all – Google Places work? My feeling is that there are SO many problems right now that they are CRIPPLED! How long can they let these serious technical issues build up and multiply???

Below are some of the primary technical issues right now – so you know you are not alone. So you can read and find possible solutions or maybe if you are VERY VERY lucky an actual Google employee will post an update on the forum so you know what’s going on.
Click here to view full sizeSYSTEM ERROR BUG
Desperate to get solution to System Error issue.
80 posts so far in this thread and at least 40 individual other threads. Problem started in FEB. Basically if your listing is wrong and you try to edit or if you are trying to set up a new listing, when you try to save your changes you hit the system error and are just stuck. Feb 17 G employee posted “I’ve escalated this to the engineering team. Thanks for your patience while we look into this.” Monday or so 3/7 the problem started re-appearing again and mass numbers of users are begging for a solution. 3/8 G employee posted “I’m re-escalating this issue. Thank you all for your reports.”

USER SENTIMENT RE THE SYSTEM ERROR BUG – From PRMotorsPH

This is the most frustrating experience I’ve had in quite a while! When did it become the case that people were OK with such piss-poor service, such as what we are all apparently experiencing from Google on this?

With all of the massive amounts of revenue Google is making off this whole new revenue stream, you’d think they’d have the courtesy to fix problems like this! Somehow my competitors are able to get their listings set up with no problems. How did that happen, Google? Is there a “bribe Google” button link somewhere that I missed? If so, could someone let me know where that is???

MISSING STATS BUG Dashboard statistics Tons of users have been reporting missing stats since 2/18. For a long time it appeared everyone’s stats were stuck on that date. G employee finally started a thread 3/4 “We are aware that dashboard statistics for listings have not been updated since February 18. We are actively working to re-populate data for dates since February 18.” I’ve seen some reports saying their stats now display through 2/21. Not sure if that’s a fluke or if stats are trying to get caught up. IF THEY WOULD TELL PEOPLE it would cut down on the frustration and we volunteers could point to the thread or let users know the status. As a pro, I’ve never had much faith in Places stats anyway. There have been so many ongoing stats bugs. However for SMBs, whether the stats are right or not, they just need to see activity reports. Business owners FREAK when their stats are missing, frozen or say 0 impressions and 50 actions which is another on-going issue that comes up often.

PENDING REVIEW BUG All my listings are “Pending” Being Reviewed!!! HELP!!! This problem started beginning of May. (confusing to read this thread because there are different types of pending.) The BUG was that new listings created in January all automatically seemed to be getting the pending review error warning. Google admitted it was a bug and fixed it a few days later. BUT NOW IT’S BACK. Skip down to the posts from today 3/9. Agencies that manage lots of accounts are having most that were created in Jan/Feb go pending. Waiting to get an update from Google.

MISSING REVIEWS BUG – MAJOR ON-GOING PROBLEM SINCE OCTOBER 2010!!! Sorry now the Google FORUM CRASHED and I can’t get to it to give you stats. But last I check there were pages and pages of complaints.

OTHER ISSUES - no time to give feedback on all these but in a nutshell, between Google’s badly broken scraping algo which creates duplicate problems and their incorrect instructions for how to create a new listing AND incorrect update messages in the dashboard, all kinds of user problems and confusion are created. THIS COULD ALL BE CORRECTED if they would listen to the pros in the forum who have told them over and over what needs to happen to fix these problems.

My Google Places listing is wrong but editing it makes no difference.

OK, SEE THE SERVICE ERROR IMAGE ABOVE??? I got that when the Google Places support forum timed out and crashed. Probably from too many visits from so many LIVID users. So I guess I can’t finish this post and REALLY need to get to work anyway.

Thank God Google stopped me before I started to talk about ALL the duplicate problems and how broken the scraping algo is… ;-) STOP ME BEFORE I WRITE MORE! ;-)

SUMMARY Just wanted to mention that usually when things go south at Google Places and lots of errors show up, it means that they are doing an update. If that’s he case now then it may be a MAJOR update, because it’s much worse than usual. Google if you are doing an update PLEASE make it an UPGRADE THAT FIXES THINGS – Don’t just give us more new half baked features that cause new problems!

If you can get to the forum or read any updates from Google saying any of the above problems have been fixed, please post in comments and I’ll update this post.

Google Places for Dentists – Get More Patient Reviews – FREE Tool

Wednesday, February 16th, 2011 at 11:55am by Linda Buquet

Dentists: Want more patient reviews to help build your Google Places rankings AND to help boost click-throughs and conversions? Sure you do! This is the age of ratings and reviews and Amazon has taught everyone very well that reviews count! So potential new patients who are searching for YOUR specific services are often judging you by your reviews, or lack there-of.

How do you stack up against the competition? Search Google for your main local keywords and find out. Oops! Not lookin’ so good, you say? So how do you get patients to give you a review?

I developed a training program for my Dentists that gives them all types of review building tips and strategies. However for today I will just give you one of the most important tips of all for getting more reviews.

MAKE IT EASY for PATIENTS to LEAVE YOU A REVIEW! That’s it!

Sounds so simple, but for Dentists and especially staff it isn’t! “How do you make it easy? Where should they leave a review? My Google Place page or one of the other review sites? Heck I can’t even find my Place page half the time, how are they going to? Then when I find it, how the heck do I get a short direct link to the review part of my Place page??? The long link in the address bar does not take them direct to my Place page. I’m so confused… HELP!”

ReviewBizEnter ReviewBiz from Bright Local! A super slick FREE solution to the patient review conundrum!

See ReviewBiz in action below. Simply mouse-over the ReviewBiz button to see the expanded button!

Review 'Boxwood Cafe' with ReviewBiz local SEO tools from BrightLocal.com

Note: this is just a sample button for a restaurant.

ReviewBiz is a Free customer review button that can help any local business generate more online customer reviews. ReviewBiz works like the ‘addthis’ social bookmark button, but specifically for online reviews of local businesses.

Adding a ReviewBiz button to your website creates a direct link from your website through to each of your profile pages on popular online directories and search engines like Google Places, Yelp & Superpages. This makes it easier than ever for your loyal customers to leave a online review about your business which will boost your online presence and help attract new, local customers to your business.

ReviewBiz connects with most of the leading US and UK online local directories.
There’s a simple 5 step wizard that guides you through the quick creation & customization of your button that is specific to your business. Once you cut & paste the code into your site this neat little button does the rest and you don’t have to worry about it. It’s free to set up & BrightLocal provides free support and upgrades.

Head over to ReviewBiz to check it out and see if it would be helpful for your practice.

If you’d like to learn more about the growing importance of online reviews, BrightLocal, the company behind ReviewBiz, did some research in Q4, 2010 into consumer consumption of online reviews that you might find useful to reference. Local Consumer Review Survey 2010 – Part 1

Questions? Feedback? I’m working with BrightLocal on some things so would love to hear your comments.
~ Linda ~

Dentists: Critical Changes to Google Places Guidelines

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010 at 8:02am by Linda Buquet

A few days ago I made a REALLY important post on my main blog, but didn’t get time to post it here until now. It’s super long and my carpal is killing, so just quoting a snippet.

Head over to read the whole thing but be sure to scroll down to the section where I explain the change in Dental categories and that fact that you can no longer list DENTAL PROCEDURE type keywords.

Critical Changes to Google Places Guidelines – Avoid Google Purgatory, Read Now

Why is this post so important? Because when Google makes changes to the Google Places Guidelines, however subtle they may be – it is almost always a precursor to a coming algo change that could result in your account being rejected or sent to “Google purgatory” which is even worse! If you don’t know about “Google purgatory”, see link at bottom of this post. :-(

I need to let you know about a RADICAL new change to Google’s rules that could mean that ALMOST EVERY GOOGLE PLACE PAGE I’ve ever seen is now breaking the rules.

Dentists – Have you Lost Patient Reviews and Google Places Ranking?

Monday, November 15th, 2010 at 1:44pm by Linda Buquet

Google has a MAJOR problem with loosing reviews, but they sometimes come back. For the past month Google has made numerous updates to their review process and TONs small businesses, including Dentists, have lost reviews and ranking as a result. Partly it’s just the Google ongoing review bugs but largely right now, it’s due to a new review spam algorithm that is killing honest reviews as false positives.

The problem is multi-faceted for Dentists.

1) The number of reviews is a ranking factor in the ‘old’ Google Places ranking algorithm. So if some or all of your reviews go missing, your ranking would drop too. (Things have changed somewhat however with the new Google Place Search merged algo.)

2) With the new Google algo that started launching on Oct. 27th, Google reviews are even more prominent and have a big impact on click-through rates and conversions for many companies.

3) If you’ve ever worked on building up your patient reviews you know they can be as precious and hard to get as gold bullion. Losing them HURTS Dentists at their core, in addition to their bottom line.

If you’ve lost Google reviews and Google Place rankings, please see the detailed info and resources list at my MAIN Google Places blog: Google Places: Missing Reviews Have Major Impact for Small Business Owners

New Google Place Search Shaking up Google Rankings for Dentists

Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 11:57am by Linda Buquet

Well it’s been 2 weeks since I announced the new Google search results layout and new merged Local and organic ranking algo. Oops no, sorry, have not talked about the algo yet. I’ll save that for another post. ;-) But the layout changes are still rolling out and it appears Google is still testing.

I have the new Google algorithm figured out, but everything is still in serious flux and the layout and rankings change constantly between browsers, cities, keywords and keyword order. So nothing is consistent yet. For some of your keywords Google shows the new results, for some the old results and for some no map at all. Plus if you search keyword 1st or city 1st or no city you can see all different results too. Literally every time you look it may be different.

So since I’ve done so much testing to figure out the new algo, I thought I’d do a blog post showing some of the different types of layouts out there right now. If your SEO or marketing partner (that includes me, for my clients) can’t give you a ranking report below is the reason why. NOTHING is consistent!

Click here to view full size Click to view full size for full impact

Search Term: Dentist Houston
(Note search order – keyword then city)

Here is what I refer to as the new standard localMerge layout. This market features 8 localMerge listings and then about 5 organic underneath, but many of the organic listings are directories so there is only room for a couple organic Dental listings on page one.

The localMerge layout is basically an organic listing merged with and stacked on top of a Google Places listing. Some elements of each are featured. Meta title and description or some page content from the web site. The image is from the Place page. Address, phone and reviews, if any, from the Place page.

Map moved to right, scrolls with you as you move down the page.

Click here to view full size Click to view full size for full impact

Search Term: Dentist Tampa
(Note SAME search order as above – keyword then city)

However in this query Google is showing the new OLD style 7 pack type of listing. With just small listings pulled from data in Places and no meta data or site content. (And you can’t see it, but it’s the OLD local ranking algo, not the new localMerge ranking algo) ;-)
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Click here to view full size Click to view full size for full impact

Search Term: Tampa Dentist
(Note SAME keywords REVERSE order)

OK now it gets even more interesting. Tampa Dentist and Dentist Tampa are 2 completely different layouts and algos.

This particular layout is a little different than Houston too in that there are 2 pure organic listings on top, then 7 localMerge listings, then 6 more organic.

WAIT… it gets even better and more convoluted!

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Click here to view full size Click to view full size for full impact

Search Term: Tampa Dentures
(Note City 1st)

This search phrase has 1 localMerge, 2 organic, then 1 localMerge, then 6 organic.

However if a patient searches in reverse order, it shows the old 7 pack payout and algo.

Other variations include the old 2 and 3 pack style listings. And if you are VERY lucky you can still get one of the BIG ONE PACK LISTINGS all by yourself. I still have a bunch of one box listings for my clients.

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However keep in mind, the layout and rankings change constantly between browsers, cities, keywords and keyword order, where you are searching from and whether you are logged into Google or not! By the time you read this, everything could change. Nothing is consistent yet.

Additionally there are massive problems. Many, many users in the Google support forum are reporting MASSIVE amounts of lost reviews. Some users have lost over 100. It’s such a big problem that InfoWorld even reported on it.

Many are losing citations, just the past few days. Many are having their Place pages pulled off the net altogether due to rejected status for a variety of guideline violations.

So if you think you are seeing things, when every time you check your rankings things look different… it’s Google!

If you think your SEO has lost their mind or can’t give you a straight answer about anything… it’s Google!

If no one can give you ranking reports for awhile… it’s Google.

And if you wonder when Google will quit testing and the dust will settle… well it’s all up to Google. :-(

As I always tell me clients, I can’t CONTROL Google, but there are few people as on top of the changes and constantly working to leverage that knowledge into better rankings for clients than I am.

There is a BIG window of opportunity here for those that understand what the change means. Everyone that’s ranking on top right now in the new localMerge format, just got lucky and happened to do several things right, but most don’t understand how they got there. Therefore they don’t know how to move up or how to STAY on top.

On the FLIP side there are a bunch of companies that HAD high organic rankings and a Place page but they aren’t LISTED AT ALL in the new merge format now. These companies also have no clue why! Many of those organic rankings are now pushed back to page 2 because the new merged listings take so much room and the directories and Yellow page results are also taking up space.

Just like for a long time hardly anyone could figure out the old Google local algo, and even prior to 10/27 very few did. Now with this change there is a big opportunity for those that figure out how to rank on top in the new localMerge algo. It takes a lot more than just having a Place page to be on top. And it takes a lot more than just having good organic SEO to be on top. It takes a special hybrid combo of BOTH now to rank well.

But EVEN if you have a highly optimized Place page AND a well optimized site you still may not get to page one, unless you work with someone that knows all the ‘hooks’ to make it all work!

I’m thinking about changing my title from Google Places Optimization Specialist to Google Local INTEGRATION Specialist. :-)

Google Places Map Rankings for Dentists – Big Changes for Dental SEO

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010 at 5:00pm by Linda Buquet

The whole Google search landscape is changing over the next few days. Are you ready?

Back in July I broke a major news story about changes to the main Google search results page that were being tested. Well Google is all done testing and WOWSER the new results are already rolling out internationally! I knew it was coming, but didn’t think it would happen this fast. This is a RADICAL departure from the current search results page layout and will have a big impact on Google Places local maps ranking, organic ranking, Adwords and directories.

MUCH BIGGER LOCAL LISTINGS WITH MORE INFO AND PICTURES
PUSHES THE ORGANIC LISTINGS WAY DOWN THE PAGE!

If you still have the old layout, look at the difference. Before it was 7 TINY listings next to the map, then there was room for 4 organic listings above the fold. Now as you see above 5 local listings (marked with map pins) that take up the whole screen. If you scroll down there are 2 more local listings and THEN organic listings. So organic is pushed WAY down.

THE CHANGES – So in a quick nutshell, the map is on the right and scrolls down the page with you. The Google Places (local map) listings are much bigger and are like a combined local and organic ranking. The big difference is that local listings that are driven by Place pages and the LOCAL ranking algo are MUCH more prominent and organic rankings are pushed way down the page.

One of the biggest changes Dentists need to be aware of, initially at least, is that is that now the 1st picture on your Google Place page will also now show up in the search results. So be sure your Place page is claimed and you have a good image posted. Note the image above: The Dentist in the #1 spot, has no picture. He hasn’t even claimed his Place page. If he had a picture his listing would stand out more like the others do.

Local rankings are going through MAJOR changes and no one has completely figured out the new algo yet. So far all my Dentists I’ve checked have had their rankings go UP (knock on wood) but I’m sure some will go down as well. It looks to me at 1st glance as if the local rankings are now somewhat tied to organic. So if you are optimized well for local but NOT for organic, you won’t rank as high as you used to. On the other hand one of my new Dentists that has 0 reviews and is in a SUPER competitive city near LA currently comes up about #50 for Dentist +city with the old layout, but with the new layout he’s #1 because I optimized his local well PLUS he has a high organic ranking.

Here is the official Google announcement with some screen shots.

Place Search: a faster, easier way to find local information

Place Search is rolling out now and will be available globally in more than 40 languages in the next few days. During the roll-out process you can use this special link to preview the new results. Our goal is to help you feel like a local everywhere you go!

There is a link at the bottom of that post where you can test to see how you’ll rank in the new results.

Still digesting all the changes. Will post more when I can.