It is time to show up and look good on the Internet just to protect your medical practice’s reputation, according to Brian Dooley, founder of Independence Digital of Niles, Michigan, a medical practice marketing agency specializing in reputation management and digital marketing. Dooley led a session called “Reputation Management in 2021 and Beyond: 5 Keys to Standing Out on Google” at the LUGPA 2021 annual meeting.
“Most patients looking for a new doctor start on Google. Making sure your practice shows up in Google’s local search results is critical for attracting these new patients,” Dooley said. However, showing up in these results is only half the battle. Google also displays star ratings alongside these listings. “If your practice shows up but has a poor rating, you could be losing out on new patients. Getting more reviews from your patients will help increase your visibility and likelihood of attracting new patients,” Dooley said.
Ensure Correct Google Information
He presented an example of someone searching for a “urologist near me.” It is not enough just to show up in the top 3 search results. Physicians also have to make sure their rating is high enough to attract new patients. Google listings are their own entity, separate from a website. Each doctor or practice should have full control over their listings. Once urologists have access, they need to update their listings with correct information. Most important are the name, address, and phone number.
“Google thinks it’s being helpful by creating listings and guessing [at] the information, but often that does more harm than good. Sometimes a doctor will have several listings that Google has created automatically, but only 1 or 2 have accurate information,” Dooley warned. He noted that a urologist in Minnesota had 8 different listings created by Google with different phone numbers and addresses. Only 1 phone number and 1 address were correct. “We helped remove the bogus listings, so it was crystal clear to patients how to contact and find this doctor,” Dooley said.
Doctors need to optimize their Google listings by adding as much information as possible. This includes adding relevant keywords to their bio, uploading pictures, and posting more reviews, according to Dooley.
Friction is the unnecessary expenditure of time, effort, or money in performing a task. Dooley said reducing friction in any process makes it more efficient and therefore more likely to happen. When asking for reviews for a medical practice, doctors should make the process as easy as possible for patients. “We’ve found email requests with direct links to be the most effective way to get more reviews,” Dooley said. “We recommend personal-looking emails to increase the response rate. It also reduces the chances of an upset patient writing a bad review.”
If patients are upset, they will usually respond to this type of email because it gives them a chance to solve the problem before it turns into a bad review online. One of the best ways to leverage reviews is on a medical provider’s website. Testimonials can be a powerful form of persuasion. “This is especially true if the content is relevant to the reader. Adding reviews to your website also adds additional content and keywords to your website, which can help people find you on Google searches,” Dooley said.
Reputation management, however, is more than just getting good reviews. Accurately listing information improves patient access and reduces the no-show rate. By taking these simple steps a medical practice can have a good rating and hopefully attract new patients who can improve the payer mix, Dooley said.
“Leaving your online reputation up to chance usually means profiles filled with errors and ratings determined by your most unreasonable patients, not the happy majority,” he said.
Dooley B. Reputation management in 2021 and beyond: 5 keys to standing out on Google. Presented at: LUGPA 2021, November 11-13, 2021, Chicago, Illinois.