9 minute read

Google Terms of Service Update for Online Reviews

Google recently made a change to their Terms of Service that impacts practices that currently ask their patients for feedback through a reputation management solution. Many reputation management solutions follow a “gated review” or “Sentiment Funneling” process. This protocol looks similar to this:

  • Ask patients if they are happy or unhappy (using a thumbs up, or star rating)
  • Using a pre-determined threshold, (3 out of 5 stars), categorize customers as “happy” or “unhappy”
  • Send the 4+ star happy patients to preferred review platforms (Yelp, Google, Facebook, Angie’s List, etc)
  • Send the 3- unhappy patients to a feedback form, where their comments will be distributed to management.

According to the interpretation of these new guidelines, this means that practices should provide the opportunity to review for all patients, not just the happy ones.


“Don’t discourage or prohibit negative reviews or selectively solicit positive reviews from customers.”


Read the New Google TOS here


What does this mean for practices?

It is our recommendation that practices immediately adapt to these new rules and not gate their feedback process. While the review gate process described above is generally executed by automatic software, we have also seen that technique carried out via email (sending people to a landing page with buttons that lead to different destinations). For many practices, Google is their primary patient acquisition source. Putting your practice at risk by violating Google TOS is never a good idea. Also, getting your Google reviews removed is never fun, as some businesses learned in 2017.

Our recommendations for review funnels after Google TOS Update

  1. For all unhappy patients, ask for written direct feedback. Mention that there will be follow up based on this feedback.
  2. During the commenting process, still provide them the opportunity to see the Google online review platform option. Remember, giving people an opportunity to vent and ‘be heard’ reduces the likelihood that they will leave a public rating on Yelp, Facebook or other review platform.

Should you still use a review builder?

Given these new recommendations, some people might question the value of a review or reputation management solution. This is understandable, but we believe that review systems, when implemented properly, provide a tremendous benefit to both practices and patients.

Here are just a few ways that MDidentity can help your practice:

  • Improve search engine optimization by adding content to a website (via direct reviews)
  • Improve search engine optimization by adding review schema (and possibly getting review stars in search results)
  • Improve conversion by showing real-life social proof on landing pages
  • Give management an automatic way to collect feedback to help improve processes and patient service

MDidentity can also improve the patient experience in a number of ways. First, we give your business a reliable way to collect that feedback, which in turn should help you improve your services. Also, knowing that patients will be in a review funnel should provide additional motivation for these organizations to provide the highest possible level of service.

The MDidentity difference

At MDidentity, we choose to not just provide software. In addition to the game-changing software we provide, we also:

  • Help install it on your website, ensuring that patients get the full value from the system
  • Handle all setup and maintenance of the system (i.e. when Google changes it’s TOS, we make the necessary changes to ensure compliance)
  • Provide helpful tools and tips to help practices with their patient reviews (responding to reviews, utilizing the tools, etc).

You can get review software from anywhere, but MDidentity is where they come for real reviews and real results.

Andrew Rost
Andrew is the Lead Product Manager for MDidentity, where he geeks out daily over digital reputation, data and graphs. When he’s not equipping doctors and business owners with the tools and knowledge to manage their digital reputation, he’s playing sports, eating granola and hiking the woods of Maine with his family.