How To Manage Your Animal Hospital's Online Reputation: Part 2

Each online review site has an option for the business owner to “claim” ownership of the business.

Building on last month’s article, let’s look at the steps to take to remove or push down negative or malicious reviews.

Step 1: Claim Ownership

Each online review site has an option for the business owner to “claim” ownership of the business. In claiming ownership, you can write comments next to each review. The key is to respond to the review in a timely, professional and respectful manner.

Step 2: Remove Malicious Reviews

An offensive review might contain harsh language, a harsh overtone or hatred comments. For example: “This business or hospital is a joke,” “The technician was an idiot,” “This business or hospital will screw you,” etc.

A falsified review is tougher to prove, but if a past employee or competitor is posting negative reviews and one can prove they are not from actual customers, the reviews can be disputed. Clear indicators include anonymous reviews or reviewer accounts that don’t have any history of other reviews in that website.

First, find the reviews. Perform a search on the major search engines (Google, Bing, Yahoo) for your name and hospital domain name. Then navigate through at least the first three pages of results to find any review/directory website containing negative reviews. Use a Word or Excel document to keep a log of the website and the number of negative reviews.

Most review websites have an option to flag a review as falsified or offensive. When flagging a review, be as detailed as possible and give the reason the review is falsified or offensive. Also, spread out flagged reviews over time—do not flag them all at once within one review site.

Here are some common review sites with instructions on flagging a review:


Log into your Yelp account ( or create a new account (

Look up your business to see the reviews and find the negative reviews.

Google Places

Google does not require a Google account when a review is labeled as inappropriate, but having an account to do this is preferred.

Under each review on the bottom right is a link labeled “Flag as inappropriate.”

City Search

Look up a business or hospital to find reviews. If you are logged in, you will see a flag near the bottom right side of each review labeled “Report abuse.”

Other Review Sites

The process is similar on many other review websites. Login or create a new account and find the negative review. Ninety percent of the time an option is available to flag the review as inappropriate.

Finally, if the request for the review to be removed is unsuccessful, contact the review site through a legal notification. Either by email or letter, have a reputable lawyer or law firm draft a letter requiring removal of the negative reviews. Only request removal of offensive or falsified reviews.

The key in this process is integrity. Only flag reviews that are offensive or falsified. Companies will see right through a strategy that requests that every negative review be removed.

Step 3: Moving Negative Reviews Down

If taking ownership of review accounts, attaching owner comments and working to get negative reviews removed were not successful, the final step would be to move the negative reviews down within the search engine results for your hospital name. This requires using existing or new websites and blogs to move higher in the search engine results and eventually move above the negative review website.

This step will be easy or involved, depending on how competitive the keywords are for your hospital name. For example, if a hospital name is unique, such as “Sebastian Veterinary Clinic,” then it will be easy to fill up the first couple of search engine page results.

If your name is more generic like “Veterinary Specialists,” then the keywords in your name appear in more searches on the Internet.

Here are the steps to move your blog or website up in the search engine results and at the same time move the negative results down:

Use Existing Websites/Blogs/Social Media

If you run other websites or blog sites, then reconfigure these websites to populate your hospital name and keywords within as many pages of content as possible.

Use social media and directory websites to an advantage. Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo Local, Bing Local and City Search can help create positive keyword power. Make sure these sites are active and filled in completely with correct and up-to-date business or hospital info. Keep Facebook, Twitter and YouTube accounts updated and active several times a week.

Confirm Sites are Indexed

Indexing simply means that search engines know your site is there and displays it to searchers. Use this trick to test if your site is indexed: Go to the major search engines, such as Google, Yahoo, Bing, then type in the word “site:” without the quotes. Now add your domain without the www. For example, on Google type in and see the results. The results will show you how many pages of content Google has indexed from your website.

Create an account with Google and Bing (Yahoo results now are integrated with Bing) within their webmaster tools. This will allow you to request to be indexed and also provides a lot more information to track how well you are doing with those search engines.

Here is where you go for that:

• Google
• Bing/Yahoo

Continual Site Content

Once you have structured existing and new websites or blogs with keywords and have confirmed that website and content pages are properly being indexed by major search engines, then keep sites and blogs filled with new content. Add at least three pages of new content every week to keep you in the high rankings. 

Dr. Humphries is an adjunct professor of media and communications at the College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences at Texas A&M University.

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