Online Reputation Management for Doctors: A Definitive Guide [Part One]
As patients are increasingly turning to search engines and review sites for evaluating the quality of care, it's time that doctors should also be there to provide the answers that patients are looking for. With a proactive reputation management, doctors can leave the right impact that will convince patients and eventually acquire them. This article will guide you step-by-step in developing and managing your online reputation. The success of your healthcare practice depends on how positive a reputation it has with its patients. If that’s the case, then how do you determine your reputation? Referrals and word-of-mouth are still a well-known and common factors that relate to your reputation and patient acquisition, but then how many of your new patients rely on just these two factors to choose you? As a matter of fact, even after getting referred by their friends or family, or even by another physician, one of the first things that your patients will do is to research your or your practice and its reputation online to see what other patients are saying about you. 85% of (healthcare) consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. - BrightLocal While displaying positive patient reviews can certainly help your practice influence opinions in your favor, it doesn't mean that reviews are all that matters for your practice's online reputation. Users check, on an average, 12 different sources including content from review sites, social media, on-site testimonials, blogs, etc., before finally picking a provider. – Google All this sum up into two things: first, many other factors (apart from reviews) are responsible for your online reputation. Second, reviews and testimonials form a major part of it. The process that takes care of all these is called online reputation management. Related Blog: Why Doctors Should Pay Heed to Their Patient Reviews Online
What Is Online Reputation Management?“Online reputation management (ORM) is the practice of crafting strategies that shape or influence the public perception of an organization, individual or other entity on the Internet. It helps drive public opinion about a business and its products and services. – Techopedia The definition encompasses almost every online marketing activity that directly or indirectly adds to the reputation of your practice and you. So, in those terms... ORM may involve utilizing your medical expertise to engage with your online patient community on Facebook to answer medical questions and concerns. Or, using the same expertise to provide relevant answers to your patients' health-related inquiries via content marketing, to establish yourself as an authority in the eyes of your audience and Google (by improving your search rankings). However, as the term 'reputation' exhibits more about your patients' beliefs or opinions, it's arguable that in its core, ORM strategy deals more with taking control of the online conversation. That way, ORM may involve using Twitter or Yelp to jump in on conversations and tackle negative or defamatory comments about your practice. Or, it could involve soliciting positive reviews from happy patients to improve the search engine rankings and the public-facing online reputation of your practice. With online reputation management, you can ensure your healthcare brand is decently positioned (and represented) not only on review sites, but on other important places like search results and social media timeline/feeds. If you are interested to see how these are done, we will explain later in the article. Before that, you should introspect whether your practice really needs reputation management or not. For that, you'll need to self-assess your current online reputation. How? Keep reading...
How to Assess Your Current Online ReputationHave you ever Googled your practice or your provider's name to see how they appear in the search result? If you haven’t, do it now! A stellar online reputation starts with a robust internet presence. After all, if you are not properly visible, how can anyone say anything about your reputation? While you Google your practice, look for these in the search results: [Note: Try 'incognito' browser setting. It will ensure that the search results aren't influenced by the previous search activities on your desktop.] Your website: Ideally, your website should appear as the first result for a direct search (someone directly entering your brand name) on Google. If your site is well-optimized (with proper keywords), is well-indexed, isn't serving any penalty from Google, then it'll rightfully appear in the first result. Of all other content links in the search results, at least some should be the predominantly “owned” ones (i.e., those where you control the content). For example, your blog page where your brand owns the content. Appearing with more predominantly “owned” links means a high reputation in the eyes of Google. Review snippets: Google can fetch results from review sites too. Remember the review snippet in the search result. [See the screenshot below] [caption id="attachment_649" align="aligncenter" width="575"] Review snippets[/caption] If the review snippet appears, check for these:
- Aggregate review scores are appearing from how many review platforms?
- Is it only from Yelp, or from other review platforms such as HealthGrades and Facebook?
- Are the aggregate review scores positive or poor?
- Is there parity in the aggregate review scores of different review platforms?