It may seem like a vain exercise, but being aware of what’s being said about you online is a vital practice to maintain a healthy online reputation. If you want to improve your online reputation and attract more patients, perhaps it’s time to explore why every doctor should Google themselves…
Episode Transcript: Why Every Doctor Should Google Themselves
Hello everybody, and welcome to the Medical Marketing Podcast from Messenger – the show where we give physicians and practice marketing managers like you actionable tips and advice to help improve your marketing, grow your revenue, and take patient experience to the next level.
I’m your host, Crawford Ifland, and today we’re going to be talking about online reputation as a doctor in 2020, and more specifically, why every doctor should Google themselves. It may seem like a vain exercise at first, but we’ll show you why it’s important to have a handle on what others are saying about you online.
Why You Should Google Yourself (Why Online Reputation Matters)
We all know that medicine is reputation-driven – if you have a bad reputation as a physician, the word is going to get out and your patient pipeline is going to suffer. That’s why it’s important to have a handle on what people are saying about you on the Internet.
Many doctors we work with spend a lot of time on medical research, and like anyone, they want to be acknowledged for their contributions. They work hard to get their articles published in peer-reviewed journals and get cited by other scholars in the field, but they’ve forgotten something: just as other doctors are doing research on medical conditions, patients are doing research on them.
Doctors may read journals and industry publications, but patients are turning to Google to read reviews, press mentions, and business information to help them make a choice.
In 2020, more than 8 out of 10 patients will turn to Google as their first step in selecting a new doctor.
A Local Consumer Review Survey from BrightLocal found that online reputation “matters most” for doctors and dentists – more so than any other local business. The same survey found that most patients were willing to trust online reviews as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member.
- 82% of patients said that online reviews influence their willingness to be treated by a doctor.
- 85% of patients said they would not be comfortable selecting a doctor if more than 10% of their reviews had a one-star rating.
Strong reviews and a healthy online reputation are great for SEO, too. If you want to appear higher in Google searches and beat your competitors, you can’t do so without a stellar reputation.
Google is increasingly relying on a part of its algorithm called “E-A-T”, which measures the amount of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust a brand has. E-A-T is all about online reputation, and we’ve seen solid evidence of major gains in Search Engine rankings when a practice comes up with a solid strategy to bolster their E-A-T.
So online reputation matters, especially in this day and age. But how can doctors manage and improve their reputation online? That’s what we’ll look at next.
How Doctors Can Manage Their Online Reputation
Perhaps the easiest way to begin managing your online reputation is by Googling yourself.
Seriously, try it. Search for your name and the name of your practice and see what comes up.
To do this effectively, you need to do a deep dive – don’t just browse the first page of Google and call it a day. Go down every rabbit hole and click on every link. Don’t ignore any potential sources of information, because patients won’t.
There’s a psychological phenomenon called the “Negativity Bias” – it’s our tendency to focus on the negative, even when it’s far outweighed by the positive.
The Negativity Bias states that things of a more negative nature have a greater effect on one’s psychological state and processes than neutral or positive things. Even if you have a hundred positive reviews on Google, it’s that one negative review that will get under your skin.
If it bothers you, it will probably bother your patients, too, so don’t just skip over negative pieces of information you find about yourself online – make a plan to address them.
It’s important to note that online reputation management isn’t just about mitigating weaknesses – you need to show expertise and cultivate an image, too.
Yes, it’s important to address any incorrect or potentially damaging information that pops up in Search Engine results, but that’s only part of the story. You also need to work to elevate content that establishes you as an expert in your field, a thought leader, and a member of the community.
Things you want to elevate include your scientific research, philanthropic work, extracurricular activities and interests, and involvement in your community. It’s these contributions that occur outside your practice that help to humanize you and cultivate trust amongst prospective patients.
These show that you go above and beyond both inside your practice and outside of it, too – and they’re great for building trust.
Cultivating an online image isn’t just good for patient trust – it pays dividends among your peers, and with Google’s algorithms as well. So if you don’t find that you have a cohesive, positive image in your own research, make a note – that’s obviously something you’ll want to work on.
Using Patient Feedback and Review Management Software
Beyond an in-depth session of Googling yourself, there are powerful tools to collect patient feedback, manage, and enhance your reputation online.
Software that automates patient feedback collection and surveys can help you be proactive about patient experience because you can often spot a patient who had a bad experience before it’s too late and they write a negative review online.
Patient review generation software can help you leverage positive patient experiences and get your patients to do your marketing for you. With these tools, you can track which review profiles are performing well, and which may need a little help. You can direct patients who had a good experience to write reviews on underperforming profiles and elevate the voices of patients who have left reviews online.
Effectively managing reviews can help you cultivate a positive image of your brand across the Internet and create a virtuous cycle of positive reviews that can lead to lots more patients coming through your door.
If you want to learn more about patient review generation systems, take a listen to Episode 24 – there’s a lot of good information in there.
How to Mitigate Damaging Information
Occasionally, you might find incorrect or negative information about you or your practice online. If you do happen to uncover any, there are some steps you can take to correct or remove this information to cultivate a healthy online reputation.
If any information you find is incorrect, simply contacting the website owner to fix the mistake is usually sufficient. This usually happens with out-of-date business information, such as incorrect phone numbers, old addresses, or misspelled domain names.
If there’s a legitimate copyright violation on a piece of content that you or your practice owns, you can submit a report to Google to have it removed from their Search Engine results. Google removes around 2 million websites a day for copyright infringement so they have a robust system for dealing with these types of complaints. Google has some robust help documents explaining the legal removals process, so it’s worth it to check those out.
Occasionally, you’ll find out-of-date information on your own website that you want to have removed from Search Engine results.
If that’s the case, you should first delete the page or change its content on your website. You can then use the Remove Outdated Content tool in Google Search Console to hide that information from SERP results.
It’s important to note that this request works only for pages and images that have already been modified or removed from the web – you’re just letting Google know that a change has been made and that they should update their results accordingly.
And finally, if you find negative patient reviews when you Google your own name, take the time to respond compassionately. There are a lot of great strategies in Episode 24 of the Medical Marketing Podcast, so I’d encourage you to take a listen and check those out.
So that’s a bit about what you should be looking for. If you Google yourself occasionally and do a deep dive to see what the Internet is saying about you and your practice, you should have a better idea of what you need to focus on to enhance your online reputation.
Well, that’s all for this week’s episode of the Medical Marketing Podcast – thanks for listening.
Next week, we’ll be discussing a topic that many physicians have a hard time with: how to effectively manage the fine line between personal and professional social media brands. We’ll look at best practices for engaging with peers and patients alike, what to say – and what not to say – and how to use social media as an effective tool for patient acquisition.
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Whether you’re new to the show or have been listening for a long time, check out our website at www.messenger.md. We’re always sharing helpful resources and know-how to help you improve your practice marketing, grow revenue, and take your patient experience to the next level.
That’s all for today’s episode – I’m Crawford Ifland. See you next week.