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Patient reviews on websites like Yelp can encourage another patient to try a new urgent care center. A high volume of such reviews can improve its ranking in both Google Local and Apple Maps. One New York-based urgent care chain crossed the line—and the law—by paying thousands of dollars for positive reviews over a 2-year-period, though. The reviews in question were not even written by patients; the company engaged ad agencies and freelance writers who never even visited its sites to craft glowing testimonials. Now it has to pay a $100,000 penalty, though $50,000 of that is “suspended” due to the financial health of the company, pending compliance with other aspects of the settlement agreement.

Positive Reviews Drive Urgent Care Traffic—But You Have to Earn Them