- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On April 24, 2014
What will a potential patient or referring physician see when they “Google you”?
What people see when they Google you is going to be their impression of your practice. It’s highly likely this is their first impression of you as patient behavior has adapted to the Internet and patients now look you up before deciding whether to book an appointment.
The image below is an example from a fairly large medical practice in our local area. I simply typed the name of the practice into Google. The results that come up are fairly typical.
The good news for this practice is that their website came up first. This is usually the case but not always. From some recent research I’ve been doing on medical practice marketing, I’ve noticed that some smaller practices still don’t have their own website.
Google results alone are a good reason to make sure you have a website. It’s fairly disturbing to many consumers these days to contemplate visiting a business without first visiting its website. Also keep in mind the research shows that 18% of clicks go to the first result on a Google search results page (http://www.imforza.com/blog/8-seo-stats-that-are-hard-to-ignore/). This is your big chance to take control of what potential patients or referring physicians see. You own your website so you have control of that part of your message at least.
So if your website does not come up on page 1 of a Google search for your company name you almost certainly have a problem you should address quickly. (I say come up on page 1 of Google results for your practice’s name since 92% of the clicks go to page 1 results (source: Chitika via Search Engine Watch).
Your Google+ Local listing
Your eye probably already wandered off to the right of the search engine results page in this example. The human eye is always drawn to graphics and off on the right of this page is a pretty big attractive map. This map is part of the Google+ Local listing for this practice. As you can see it’s very visible.
One of the first things you should do for your practice after setting up a website is take control of your Google+ Local listing. Oddly enough Google+ Local listings show up very near the top of many Google searches today so they are becoming a lot like your “Yellow Pages” listing used to be.
The good news is setting up this listing is free. The other news about your Google+ Local listing is that your practice is probably already listed even if you have not done anything about it.
You want to claim your listing if you have not already. Your listing allows users to leave reviews on your practice. Once you’ve claimed your listing, you can also add photographs and information about your practice to make your listing more attractive and informative. You want to optimize how your business looks graphically and be fully aware of any reviews being posted there about you.
Doctor rating sites
As you’ll see in this example what comes up after the practice’s website and Google+ Local listing are some links to HealthGrades.com. If you don’t know, HealthGrades is one of the most popular of the new genre of doctor rating sites. These sites allow patients to rate and review your practice much like they would rate a restaurant on Zagat. Clearly with these links showing up so visibly in your search results you want your ratings and reviews on these sites to be good. Other popular doctor rating sites and RateMDs and Vitals.com. See this previous post for more information on doctor rating sites.
Another category of sites that will likely show up on the first page of Google when I search for your practice are general local business directories.
The most popular of these is Yelp but as you can see in this example in New Jersey NJ.com’s businessfinder directory ranks highly too. Other priority directories to manage include Yahoo and Bing’s local business directories, MerchantCircle, Manta, the Yellow Pages online, White Pages online and Superpages.
And of course social media
Finally, you’ll notice this practice’s Facebook page comes up at the bottom of the first page of Google results for their practice name.
One of your social media sites usually ranks on page 1 of your results but it’s interesting that local directories that don’t take so much of our attention often outrank our social media pages. Google’s own Google+ of course, as we’ve seen, does tend to show up rather visibly. As with the local directories Facebook pages now allow for user reviews so be aware of this and actively manage your reviews.
If I don’t know you yet, what I see when I type you into Google is likely to be what I believe about you. You should not leave this to chance. It’s the new PR for your practice.
If you haven’t recently, type your practice name into Google and see what comes up. You may have some work to do. Oh, and after that also type in your name.