There is no denying that the Internet is the new town hall. Users promote their experiences, good and bad, for their friends, family and even perfect strangers to see. Potential patients are actively seeking feedback and testimonials that are posted online. Research shows that users are likely to look farther down the search results page for reviews than they are for any other single bit of information about your practice! The key to better managing your online reputation is for you to start thinking like a patient. Research yourself and your competition, see what your patients are finding out about your skills as a practitioner, personal approach, staff, and yes, even your payment policies.
There are some simple things that you can do to monitor and manage your online reputation.
- Know what people are saying – Perform a simple Google search and see what you find. You will want to use a variety of formats, for example, “Dr. John Smith”, “John Smith DDS”, “Smith, John DDS”, “Santa Rosa John Smith”, “patient reviews John Smith DDS”, etc. See what pops up in the first few pages of results. Read Part 1 of this series to learn how to respond to negative reviews.
- Google Alerts – Google has a simple notification system that will email you whenever new information is posted about you or your practice. It’s easy to setup. This will keep you proactively up to date on what any third party is saying about you. Simply go to: http://www.google.com/alerts and follow the steps.
- Disseminate Positive Practice Information to the Search Engines – This includes a practice website that ranks well for your name. It also includes Customized Social Media channels like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+. If you are an active user or have hired a reputable firm like PBHS to socially market for you, these channels can outrank other directories and review platforms.
- Enhanced Listings for your Practice – If you find a directory (i.e. Google+, Yelp, Superpages) that has positive reviews, the listings will often have the option to be “claimed” and enhanced with additional information about your practice. Make sure you add your dental website, procedures and accurate contact information. Keep the login information in a safe place, in case you need to make changes in the future. Claiming these listings will not only enable you to promote positive testimonials, in most cases, it will also grant you the ability to respond if someone posts a negative comment (See Part 1).
- Promote Positive Testimonials – Solicit your patients to leave positive testimonials on the directories mentioned above. You can even hand out Testimonial Postcards that instruct your patients on how to leave reviews. Additional methods include online patient satisfaction surveys that need your approval before posting a patient’s testimonial. You control who you solicit.
Overall, the most important part of managing your reputation online is having a plan. Patients are going to leave reviews with or without your permission. Benign neglect may no longer be so benign. Knowing what is out there, responding and promoting a positive image of your practice are of vital importance. In the old days we called this PR. Today, we call it Reputational Management. People are talking about you. Make sure you know what they are saying.
Jay Levine is President of PBHS, preferred partner of the OMSNIC. More information on website design, SEO and reputational management can be found at http://www.pbhs.com.