When was the last time you searched for your own practice on Google? Or Bing, Yahoo, or any other search engine?
What about Facebook or Twitter?
Do you know what shows up about your practice on Google My Business? Or the many online review and business directory websites?
If you haven’t searched your own practice online in awhile, or ever, we recommend you make time to do so in the next 24 hours.
Your Online Presence is Your First Impression to New Patients
People search for your practice online. And these search results are what new patients use to form their opinion of your practice.
Many people use the internet to learn about who they’re about to do business with – this includes healthcare practices.
Besides your practice website, they also look through:
- Social media posts
- Online reviews
- Other information about your practice
Online reviews and social media posts are the new word-of-mouth referrals that drive patients to your practice.
Is the Content That Shows up About You Accurate, Consistent, and Positive?
A survey by Domain.me (2015) indicated that only 22% of people find information that is exactly what they want others to know about them. This applies to individuals and businesses.
So how do you actually make sure the information about your practice online is what you want it to be?
Let’s get started on that right now.
How to Search for Yourself Online
First, open a private browser window. If you’re using Google Chrome you’ll want to open a new “incognito” window. Go to File → New Incognito Window.
If you’re using Firefox, open a new private window. Go to Menu – New Private Window.
It’s important to use these private browsing windows when searching yourself.
Google takes raw search results and balances them out with a user’s individual browsing history, services they’re currently logged into, and other personalization factors.
You don’t want search results that are tailored towards your browsing preferences. You want to see what patients see.
Second, load up Google. Go to Google’s search engine and type your name and the name of your practice into the search bar. Click “search” and see what comes up.
You’ll want to repeat this process on Bing and Yahoo, too. Google has a large market share, but it’s not the only search engine that people use.
Third, look through what comes up. If your practice is using a well-rounded Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy, you should see:
- Your website
- Social media pages
- Google My Business page (if you’re searching on Google)
- Online reviews of your practice
Look through the first five pages of results. Make sure your practice information, especially your name, phone number, address, and website are accurate and across all the places your practice shows up.
Also looks through image search, videos, news, and blogs. Are the images, videos, and other media professional and accurate?
If you’re having trouble finding your practice, you can add more modifiers to your name such as:
- Variations of your name
- Variations of postal abbreviations
- Quotation marks for exact results
- And more
What if I Find Inaccurate Contact Information?
If your information isn’t accurate, you’ll need to find where you practice is listed (e.g. online directories, etc.). Correct the information or request that the website owner correct it.
Make sure your name and contact information are spelled exactly the same every place your practice is listed online. This even includes small postal abbreviations like “street” and “st.”
Even one variation or spelling mistake can spread around to all the other places where your practice is listed online over time.
This makes it harder for patients to find and engage with your practice online and can cause a negative experience with your practice before patients even walk through your doors.
What If I Find a Negative Review?
Don’t panic. Even the best practices can get a negative review from time to time. What matters is not so much that you got a negative review that you handled that negative review in a positive way.
If you handle a negative review in a professional and positive way, that negative review can still be a win for your practice.
We’ve before written about how to handle online reviews and you can find more details here:
What About Other Negative Results?
The easiest way to deal with negative results is to knock them lower into the search rankings.
Create valuable content, collect positive online reviews, and bury those bad search results with positive search results.
We have more articles about how to create helpful content that patients are looking for here:
If you find a negative result that’s particularly serious, like defamation, you can contact Google or the website owner directly and apply to have that content removed from search results or taken off the website.
Stay On Top of Your Online Reputation
Keep on top of your online reputation by being proactive and diligent.
We recommend that you search for your name and your practice on a monthly basis. Even more often if you can make the time for it.
One easy way to do this is to set up a Google Alert for your name and your practice name. With a Google Alert in place, Google will email you a notification any time a new mention of your practice is created online.
This will allow you to stay on top of things between online audits of your practice.
We won’t go into the details about how to set up a Google Alert in this article, but you can learn more here: Google Alert Tutorial
A Few More Notes
Even if a negative search result isn’t on page one, there’s still a possibility that a negative result could move higher in search results over time.
This is one of the reasons you should never click a negative search result – no matter how curious you are about what it says.
It won’t harm your practice if a negative result shows up in search results. But if you click it, that click will show Google that someone was interested in that result.
You don’t want to send a message to the search algorithms that people are interested in that negative result or it could push it into the higher search rankings.
Set aside a one-hour block of time on your calendar (or however much time you can manage) to read through this article one more time.
Follow the steps and see what patients see when they search for your practice online.
• Search results are what new patients use to form their opinion of your practice.
• Search for your name and your practice on a monthly basis (or more)
• Your information must be accurate and consistent for patients to be able to engage with your practice.
• Even a negative review can be a win for your practice if you handle it in a positive and professional way.
• Google Alerts can help you stay on top of your online reputation.
Would You Like to Learn More?
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about your practice’s online reputation, contact Officite today.
Our reputation and online listing management services help you take control of your online reputation from day one.