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Need More Patients? Start With Your Practice’s Online Reputation

Posted on Feb 03, 2022 by Mike Rigert

    woman reading online reviews

    Along with everything else that’s gone digital or online, you can add one more thing—choosing a doctor or healthcare practice. That’s right, just like renewing your vehicle registration, paying a bill, or ordering a pizza, the fastest and easiest way for people to select a practice or provider is by jumping on Google. 

    Asking family or friends for recommendations? Yep, that’s still a thing. But today’s prospective patients overwhelmingly rely on internet searches of online review directories to help them research and pick a doctor. Eighty-four percent of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.

    Again, it’s because it’s quick, easy, and accessible. Sites like Google, Facebook, and Yelp are bursting with first-person patient feedback on nearly every practice and provider in the form of online reviews. In fact, 77 percent of health information queries start with a search engine and 94 percent of patients visit online reviews to evaluate and make their healthcare choices. 

    And I know what you’re thinking. Oh, it’s just millennials and Gen Z’ers who use the internet to find a practice—nope. Patients of all ages and demographics go online to find healthcare information and to evaluate and find a provider. One study found that more than three-quarters of those 60 and up have surfed the web to make a healthcare-related search in the past year and many use it to choose a doctor.

    What Is Online Reputation Management?

    So, what do you need to know about your practice’s online presence and how can you start doing it? Your practice’s online reputation and presence largely consists of:

    • Online reviews
    • Business listings
    • Social media comments
    • Search engine optimization (SEO) keywords

    These all figure into the algorithms that directories like Google use to determine where your practice ranks when people search for your business. The quantity and quality (star rating) of online reviews factors into whether your practice appears at the top of a page of search results—as opposed to your competitors.

    Reputation management is the actions you take to track and monitor reviews, respond to reviews, ensure your business listings are accurate, and track your competitors. It’s doing everything possible to increase the likelihood that prospective patients, when they search online for a practice, chose you over the guy down the street. 

    While this can be accomplished manually, managing all the various directories and their reviews on your practice can become complex and time consuming. Review management and keeping track of trends and gaining valuable insights is made infinitely easier for your front office staff with a reputation management solution. Such a tool can make sure you never miss a review, simply the tasks of managing your online reputation, and provide you with the visibility, reports, and metrics to get more five-star reviews that will grow your practice.

    What Elements of My Online Reputation Can I Influence?

    As mentioned, online reviews make up the biggest part of your reputation in cyberspace. But there are other key components. They include:

    Reviews: While the most popular review directories are Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), Facebook, and Yelp. However healthcare industry-specific directories are also heavily used by patients. These include:

    • WebMD
    • Healthgrades
    • ZocDoc
    • Vitals

    Business Listings: Online business listings are created for you whether you claim them or not by the major directories, and give people doing searches the basic information about your practice:

    • Name
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Website
    • Category
    • Hours of operation 
    • Description 

    Collectively, these identifiers are referred to as NAPWCHD. It’s critical that you claim your business listings on directories like Google Business Profile, Yelp, Facebook, Healthgrades, ZocDoc, and others. When you claim your business listings, verify that you’re the proper owner, and update your practice’s profile information, your practice will place higher in search rankings.

    SEO Keywords: It’s important to optimize your business listings and your practice website for both branded and unbranded keywords. Branded keywords help produce higher click-through rates and ROI, and include examples like “Jones & Garcia Family Dental” or “South Fork Canyon Vision Specialists.” But unbranded searches help people who are searching for a practice or provider in more generic terms, which is the vast majority of online searches. Examples of unbranded searches include “best local dentists” or ‘top primary care physicians.”

    ‘Near Me’ Searches: One of the easiest and most popular ways for people to find specific businesses close to their location is to simply say or type “near me” along with their search term. For example, “restaurants near me” or “health clubs near me.” It’s the same in healthcare. Prospective patients will search for “family doctors near me,” “dentists near me,” or “vision specialists near me.”

    An important point of clarification here is that “near me” searches don’t necessarily bring up all the related practices closest to the person’s physical location. Instead, the search engine will list nearby practices whose online reputation is well maintained and managed. Search engines look at the number, frequency, and quality of your online reviews and that you’ve claimed and updated your business listings. These include sites like: 

    • LinkedIn
    • White Pages
    • Google Business Profile
    • Your practice website

    Final Thoughts

    Your ability to draw more new patients to your practice is closely tied to how well you manage your online reputation. You can start today planning to incrementally manage your online presence more closely while also considering investing in tools that will help your practice outshine the competition and attract more new patients.

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    To learn more how online reputation management can turbocharge your patient acquisition, download the guide, “Online Reputation Management: Why It’s Essential for Your Practice.”

    Download Now

     

    Mike Rigert

    Mike Rigert

    Mike Rigert is a writer and content marketing specialist with more than a decade of expertise in the B2B SaaS healthcare sector. He enjoys finding fresh and creative ways to tell the story about Solutionreach's innovative and life-changing patient relationship management platform. In his spare time, Mike enjoys diving into books, geeking out with scifi, expanding his knowledge of military history, and spending time with his wife and three kids.

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