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What Do Your Patients See When They Search For You Online?

A lot of online marketing advice for healthcare providers focuses on getting found by new patients.

New patients and new referral sources are how a practice grows, after all, and no healthcare provider hopes to see the same patients coming back through their doors time and time again.

Plastic surgeons, well, they’re another story.

This emphasis on new patients leads to tactics that help your surgical practice surface in generic searches for healthcare providers and specific procedures, and while that’s useful it doesn’t cover all the bases.

Healthcare providers—and marketers—who focus solely on this type of search are overlooking an essential part of any strong online marketing foundation.

When people search for you online, using your name or the name of your practice, wouldn’t you like to be responsible for the information they’re likely to see first?

Why Reputation Management Matters

The phrase “reputation management” may sound like an ominous proposition, but it’s actually a very positive thing.

Reputation management is not all about responding to negative comments that pop up, although that can be a part of it.

It’s about making sure you’re taking a proactive role in shaping how you’re seen online.

After all, who knows more about you than you?

When people search for you online, using your name or the name of your practice, wouldn’t you like to be responsible for the information they’re likely to see first?

First Search, First Impression

If they’re a new patient, searching for you because they got your name from a friend or from their doctor, their first search is how they’ll be forming their first impression.

You can set the tone for it, providing relevant information with authority and care and making sure it’s front and center for them to see.

Or you can let review sites, computer-generated doctor and business listings, or even competing healthcare providers swoop in and snag the patient’s attention right out from under you.

The choice is pretty clear.

Taking Control of Your Search Results

The first step in reputation management is making sure you have a good, user- and SEO-friendly website with plenty of information plus your name on every page including:

  • Header
  • Sidebar
  • Footer

You should have branding elements in place anyway, and your name should be a part of it.

Filling out your profiles on Facebook and other sites that list doctors and surgeons such as Healthgrades is also a good idea, and can ensure people searching for you find you instead of a healthcare provider with a similar name.

Make and claim a profile for yourself and for your practice on prominent review sites like Yelp, RateMDs, etc.

Respond to Reviews (Positive and Negative)

Not only will this make your profiles more prominent in search results and ensure the information is accurate, but it will give you a way to respond to reviews (positive and negative) when they come up.

When responding to reviews remember to:

  • Always be polite
  • Never tell someone that they’re wrong
  • Never disclose patient health information
  • Know when to walk away

A prompt and kind response to a negative comment can actually improve your reputation in the eyes of many patients — we all make mistakes and have a bad day now and again.

Reputation Management is an Ongoing Process

These tips are just the start of effective online reputation management.

You or your marketing team should be actively soliciting reviews from patients each day and checking search results for your name at least a few times a month.

Your site should always be offering new information to make sure it’s the first thing people see when they search for you, too.

After that, there are plenty of other marketing details to start tending to.

When you’re ready to start discussing the online marketing strategy for your healthcare practice, click here to get a Practice Marketing Checkup or, call us at 800-818-7199.

Garrett Smith

Garrett is the Founder, and Chief Marketer at InboundMD. Garrett has been successfully leading internet marketing campaigns for health care practices across the US for almost a decade. He's a frequent speaker at events, and author of "Book Now! Internet Marketing for Healthcare Practices", and the host of The Practice Marketing Podcast that details how successful practices are winning online.

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