Google is making user reviews, recommendations, and endorsements more powerful by adding users’ profile pictures. When people recommend a dentist on Google, their name and profile picture will appear in the ad, as long as they’re at least 18 years old. Although this feature may be helpful for dentists and medical professionals, your patients may not like the idea of having their photos so widely available to people they don’t know.
How Patients Can Opt Out
Dental and medical patients in particular may be concerned that the new ad feature violates their personal privacy, since it’s one thing to anonymously refer a medical professional and quite another to reveal your identity as a patient of a specific practitioner. Fortunately, according to Hubspot, Google will allow people to opt out of this kind of information sharing. To Google’s credit, it didn’t have to allow people to opt out of this new feature, and other large companies may have proceeded with this type of advertising without giving users a way out.
To opt out, Google+ users can change their account settings. They may also choose to stop reviewing small businesses and dental practices so that their personal information doesn’t appear in ads. In the local internet marketing business, we know that it’s best for your dental practice to welcome as many endorsements, reviews, and recommendations as possible, but be prepared that users may react negatively to Google’s recent changes.
Also, because the user images are pulled from Google+ profiles, some people may decide to change their Google+ profile picture to a logo, photo, or other type of image that does not reveal their identity.
Personalized, Relevant Reviews
On the other hand, Google’s new feature may make it easier for your patients to engage with your practice. They may appreciate the authenticity of a review coming from a real person and put more trust in your business. As we’ve learned from Facebook and several other social media networking sites, people are much more likely to purchase a product or service that their friends recommend; the user profile pictures give Google reviews a more personal feel, making it easier for people to connect to your brand.
To learn more about all of the products that Google offers to dentists and other small business owners, check out our Google guide.
What to Expect from Google
The new ads are expected to roll out to all Google+ users on November 11. Although Google sent emails to all of its users, there’s a good chance that many people deleted the emails. If that is the case, a significant number of people will be unaware that their faces, names, and comments will be available for other Internet users to see.