Online reputation for doctors has become a critical component to a practice’s success. Whether proactive or reactive, doctor reputation management uses techniques to boost a doctor’s reputation online. Are you recovering from a malpractice lawsuit or negative press coverage? Have you received too many negative patient reviews? Or perhaps you have very little online presence at all? Try some (or all) of these top tips for doctors who want to improve and manage their online reputation.
Request Patients Give Google/Yelp Reviews
A recent survey found patients’ use of online reviews continues to increase. Ninety-four percent of respondents reported using online reviews to evaluate doctors, and nearly three-fourths (72 percent) say they use online reviews as their first step in finding a new doctor. Establishing a robust online presence in terms of reviews, then, is good practice.
Additionally, if you are suffering from negative online reviews, then more reviews overall will help. You can flag negative reviews, but you can dilute their impact by encouraging patients to leave positive reviews. Since nearly 80 percent of Yelp reviewers leave five-, four-, or three-star ratings, your patients’ reviews are more likely to lean toward the positive end of the spectrum.
More reviews also factor into Google’s algorithms and are likely to improve your business’ local rankings.
Respond to All Online Reviews
Seventy percent of respondents to a recent survey claimed that providers responding publicly to online reviews is “very” or “moderately important.” So, responding in a timely, professional manner to online patient reviews, whether positive or negative, is a key component of most doctor reputation management strategies. For one, responding to reviews demonstrates that you care about your patients. For two, addressing negative reviews helps neutralize its impact, and the reviewer is more likely to retract or edit. Since some medical professionals report experiencing about a 30 percent loss in business after negative Yelp reviews, you should not take bad reviews lightly. And for three, Google’s algorithms assign higher rankings when businesses respond to users’ reviews.
Simply responding to patient reviews, though, is insufficient and could backfire if not done correctly. To remain compliant with HIPAA privacy standards, you must not confirm that the reviewer is a patient. Your answer must be vague about the patient or specific situations, but you can be specific about your office policies or standard operating procedures. Yelp suggests you privately contact reviewers about concerns. You can contact reviewers with direct messaging if you claim your business on Yelp.
Avoid responding when emotional, or have a designated staff or online reputation management partner respond.
Maintain an Up-to-Date Website
When done properly, a doctor-focused website provides several benefits. The website likely will appear first or near the top of a Google search for your name. A website should provide all pertinent information about you, your values, your experience, and your practice. It is your personal digital forum, and you own how you are presented. Even if people searching find less than stellar reviews, your website likely gives a positive first impression, at least.
Write Blog Posts
Write blog posts directed to your patients. A regularly updated blog helps you rank higher in Google search results and brings more patients. Great blog content that ranks high for specific keywords drives more clients to your website. Through your blog you can showcase your expertise. Your blog also provides a forum for you to discuss your services.
Also write guest blog posts for other sites when possible. Not only does doing so help establish thought leadership and generate referral opportunities. Creating new content on other sites is the easiest way to bury negative reviews or press coverage.
Claim Your Google Business Listing
Claiming your business listing on Google, providing business information, and updating your details in a timely manner in Google My Business can help your business’s local ranking on Google. This enhances your business’ presence in Search and Maps. When users search for your name or sometimes just your specialty, they are more likely to see your business listing in local search results.
Keep Profiles / Listings Updated and Accurate
Be sure to keep your online information consistent and updated across profiles, locations, and directories, such as Google My Business, Yelp, Facebook, and Apple Maps. Consistent and accurate listings on multiple sites and search engines not only makes you appear engaged and improves Google page ranking, it reduces frustration of patients when trying to learn about your practice. Check for accuracy of hours, addresses, and contact details especially.
Actively Use Social Media
Seventy-two percent of people in the United States regularly use at least one social media platform, especially Facebook. If you are not actively engaging on social media, then you are missing countless opportunities to interact with existing and potential clients. Additionally, social media activity impacts Google’s search results rankings. Consequently, creating and using social media accounts that post regularly strengthens your online reputation.
You also can use social media to tune into current issues important to your patients.
Recent research indicates that patients are more likely to consult with physicians who show greater effort. Online this means providers who regularly revise their information, publish educational articles for patients, and answer questions posed by patients. Doctors who proactively manage their online reputation, then, increase their opportunities for attracting new patients or maintaining relationships with existing clients.Though your business operates in face-to-face encounters, your virtual interactions significantly impact your practice’s reputation and the likelihood of expanding your patient base.
Boosting your online reputation requires targeted strategies, routine review, and timely responses. For many doctors, partnering with a third-party expert makes the most sense. To explore strategies specific to your needs, contact Doctor Genius to start the conversation.