Google and rater8 Say No
To review gate, or not to review gate, that is the question
Negative reviews can tarnish a doctor’s online brand, so should they review gate?
What is review gating?
Review gating is the process of filtering patients before asking them to leave you a review. Usually, this is done by sending patients an email or text asking them if they had a positive or negative experience. If they had a positive experience, they are directed to leave a review on Google (or any other review site), but if they had a negative experience, they are prompted to leave private feedback and are never sent the option to leave a review publicly.
So is it ethical for health care providers to review gate?
Review gating is frowned upon and violates Google’s best practices and policies (their Hippocratic Oath).
Google’s review solicitation policy states that users shouldn’t “discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews.”
Consequence of review gating
If Google discovers or has suspicions that you may be review gating, they will remove all of your reviews and you will have to go through an appeals process proving that you weren’t review gating to get them back.
Fortunately, rater8 is compliant with Google’s best practices regarding online reviews and is anti-review gating. We believe that every patient’s voice should be heard and welcomed. The good, the bad, and the ugly.
But if I don't review gate, won't I accumulate a bunch of negative reviews?
Surprisingly no. We looked at the last 44,000 online reviews built by rater8 (11/16/2020 to 2/9/2021) and found that 97% of patients leave a 4 or 5-star review and that only 1% of patients leave a 1-star review.
While Princeton Orthopaedic Associates added over 3,100 reviews with rater8, only 1% of them were 1-star reviews.
What about those one or two negative reviews that slip through every hundred or so patient reviews?
Well, those reviews aren’t the end of the world, but you should still acknowledge and respond to them to potentially rectify the situation (not just because Google favors those who respond to reviews). And it’s okay to have a few negative reviews that may bring you down to a 4.8 or 4.9-star rating because it adds some legitimacy and looks more believable than a 5.0-star rating.
Final thoughts on review gating
You shouldn’t review gate, and there’s no reason to either because allowing all patient feedback to come through increases review volume without adversely impacting ratings.
Want to see how you appear online?
Our team will put together a detailed online reviews analysis for your and your fellow doctors, analyzing your presence across Google, Healthgrades, and Vitals.