- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 3, 2015
- Online reputation management
These days, it’s rare to see people buy anything without reading reviews first.
Need a new TV for your living room or den? If one model’s reviews were less than stellar, you wouldn’t hesitate to consider another model or manufacturer. Can’t decide where to stop for dinner? A restaurant’s Yelp rating might make the choice a lot easier.No one wants to spend money without knowing exactly what they’re getting. And if that’s true for relatively inconsequential decisions like choosing a television and burrito, it follows that the same thinking would apply to important ones like choosing a doctor or hospital.
Google’s hospital selection study found that 26 percent referenced online review sites in their research, and a research letter published in JAMA found that 59 percent considered online ratings at least somewhat important. Almost everyone considered a facility’s reputation to be a significant factor.
With that in mind, it’s easy to see how a negative review on ZocDoc, Vitals, or a similar site could drive people away from your hospital, and as a result, it’s important to have a plan of action for when they appear.
Responding to complaints is an important part of your online reputation management, but there are other steps you can take to clean up your Google results—provided you know they’re out there. That’s why the first thing you need to do is to…
Monitor your reviews
The best way to monitor what people see when they search for you is to do those searches yourself—in an incognito or private browsing window so your personal history doesn’t influence what comes up. Google alerts are still a great way to keep an eye on things as well, and social media tools like HootSuite and TweetDeck let you set up columns or alerts for keywords on Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks.
Encourage positive reviews
Of course, you can’t just remove negative reviews from Google, but you can counter them by surrounding them with positive ones. There are many ways to encourage positive patient reviews in person, in your emails, or in your posts on social media. Some appointment scheduling platforms will even automatically email patients and ask them for reviews.
Don’t ignore false or prohibited reviews
It may not be common, but it’s not unheard of for disgruntled patients or even former employees to post false reviews or reviews that violate the terms and conditions of the site they’re posted on. Make sure to familiarize yourself with what’s allowed on each of the sites that surface on Google results for your hospital, and report questionable reviews to Google and the respective sites.
Help positive reviews rise to the top
If there’s a site that features positive reviews of your hospital, help it rank highly by linking to it from your website, blog and social media accounts. High-quality content not only looks good but can also outrank reviews posted elsewhere.
Maximize off-page SEO
If you’re focusing your SEO efforts entirely on your website, you’re missing an opportunity to control your search results. You could have the best SEO in the world for your hospital’s site and blog and only occupy the top two spots on Google, but by taking advantage of social networks and relevant directories that naturally rank highly in search results, you can drive less-than-stellar results downward. Many of those sites let you add information about your hospital as well—another chance to promote your positive reviews.