A couple of years ago, Google featured what it called “Reviews from Around the Web” on business pages. Google actively scanned a handful of major reviews sites for businesses that matched Google’s listings, and displayed those reviews on Google’s pages. So while a business might only have a few actual Google reviews, it could look like there are hundreds of reviews since they are being pulled in from a number of other sites, e.g. Vitals, Yahoo Local.


Ideally, it would only pull reviews from reputable sites, but programmers soon realized that they could “tag” reviews on practically any site and inject them into Google review pages, and any other page that supported “reviews from around the web.”

The logic is simple:


More reviews = more content = more search prominence = more pageviews = more money from ads.


You could go to one place (Google, naturally) and view all the reviews about a particular business. But there were unintended consequences that even Google didn’t realize right away.


All websites that followed suit started to look a lot alike – they all had the same reviews displayed on their pages. Brand differentiation became difficult. Multiplicity of content (a big Google no-no) started to diminish page rank on search engine result pages. Google quickly abandoned the concept of displaying “reviews from around the web” as it realized there were more cons than pros associated with the practice.


Lately other websites have been re-testing this theory. Citysearch, Insider Pages, Yahoo Local and even Vitals are all starting to pull reviews from other sites in an effort to make their review set appear more robust. The key word is appear.
Naturally, when industry-moving websites (like Citysearch, YahooLocal, etc.) make a massive change that affects how they collect data, industries are created overnight. Some reputation management companies are taking advantage of this distribution mechanism and using these channels to distribute reviews on a multitude of different rating sites.
These companies upload the ratings to their website, and then tag them using HTML so that the rating sites will pick them up and distribute them using the backdoor method of “reviews around the web”. Their ratings get distributed on a bunch of different websites, and most link back to the company’s website to see the original review.
But this strategy, like Google’s experiment, does not come without some significant drawbacks:


– First and foremost, identical content existing in multiple places is a BIG Google no-no (more info) as it relates to SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Identical reviews being on several review sites diminishes the search presence of the individual reviews, as well as the review pages themselves.


– They can, and likely will, go away at any moment. Just as quickly as Google decided to stop hosting third-party reviews, other sites will likely follow suit when they come to the same realization. At which time your reviews which have been collected and distributed via the “reviews around the web” backdoor method… will be gone.


– Most rating sites do not factor these sorts of backdoor ratings into your overall score. While the rating sites display them for convenience, most rating sites do not factor the ratings they pull in from “around the web” into your overall score. So while Vitals might display a great review from Yelp, it doesn’t make your overall score on Vitals any better or any less vulnerable to a negative rating if a patient decides to rate you directly on Vitals.


– If the reviews are removed from the source, they are also removed from the sites that are pulling that content in from “around the web”. So, if you terminate your contract with the reputation management company that uses this tactic, all those reviews will go away. Pretty strong incentive to never cancel your service, right? Hold your reviews hostage for a fee. Do you see any problems with that business model?


– Having the exact same reviews on all review sites looks phony to patients. The reviews don’t look organic, but instead look formulaic and contrived. From the patient’s perspective, the trust factor in third-party reviews may not be maintained.


Ultimately, the best way to distribute reviews is by adhering to a strict 1-review-to-1-site ratio. Unique reviews should remain unique across the web. Otherwise, you sacrifice trust and SEO / marketing value.

Using a backdoor method of getting reviews on ratings sites like “Reviews from Around the Web” is a short-term, volatile strategy that can leave you either paying to keep your reviews hosted somewhere or losing your reviews completely.

eMerit uses a proprietary system developed by Medical Justice to permanently and uniquely share your patients’ feedback with various rating sites. No “reviews around the web” nonsense that leaves your reviews vulnerable and your checkbook under tether. Real patient reviews collected on-site. Real ratings that contribute to your overall ratings. Simply put… real results.

Check out eMerit.biz to learn more about the latest marketing tool from Medical Justice.