Creating Smoke and Mirrors through Google, Citysearch, etc.

Below is an excerpt from a linked article that explores how some physicians are hiring firms to get them top-rating from search sites like Google. It largely focuses on a plastic surgeon implicated in a number of unfortunate results including death.

excerpt from SFWeekly.com written by Ashley Harrell
If you type the terms “San Francisco” and “plastic surgery” into the Google search engine — as countless people have —the first business that comes up is the San Francisco Plastic Surgery & Laser Center. Beneath the name of the business sits a short review: “Dr. Rajagopal is an excellent plastic surgeon. She is caring and experienced.” There’s no source name attached.

A broader search for Rajagopal reveals countless positive reviews all over the Internet. She’s apparently a “knowledgeable,” “truely gifted surgeon” with an “artistic eye” and access to “cutting edge” technology. On Citysearch, 30 out of her 32 reviewers have given her five stars, and numerous patients say there aren’t enough stars in the rating system for a doctor of this caliber. She comes in on Sundays. She gives flowers to her patients at the end of their surgeries.

“Once you meet Dr. Usha Rajagopal, you’d wish she was your mother!” Rosie W. of San Francisco wrote in a Yelp review of the doctor. According to a review on one surgery forum: “if any of you are thinking of going to Dr. Rajagopal, go right ahead. She is top notch, and really knows what she is doing.”

There’s just one big problem with all of these fantastic reviews directing readers to Rajagopal for medical procedures. It’s impossible to know which of them — if any — were written by actual patients. In fact, some of the reviews appear to be classic cases of what’s commonly referred to as astroturfing — ringing endorsements that look like a groundswell of support when in fact they are being paid for. The practice is named after Astroturf — synthetic carpeting designed to look like real grass…

much much more at A Plastic Surgeon Has Positive Online Reviews. But Not From The Patient Who Died

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