- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On March 21, 2016
The world is full of online directories and review sites. There are literally thousands of them.
Your hospital, system, outpatient centers and physicians will be listed in many of these directories even if you didn’t request it. The goal of these sites is to amass data and gather traffic by being a source of that data so they will list you even if you don’t know about it.
This poses a big challenge for busy marketers as it’s up to you to make sure all your listings and reviews are accurate and represent your brand appropriately.
1. Your physicians don’t show up on Google
Google does not like inconsistent online directory listings.
Directory listings are the number one factor in determining ranking in local search, accounting for as much as 30% of “Google juice” per Moz’s 2015 local SEO study (see chart below).
A local search occurs any time a user types in a town name, county or zip code. Sometimes a local search occurs without any geographical reference (Google will interpret certain searches as local even when no town is mentioned, for example a search for “restaurants” is always local.) You can see if a search is “local” by seeing if Google returns a map. Once you see a map you know Google sees that as a local search.
The key to pleasing Google in local search is making sure your locations (doctors etc.) have the same “NAP” on every directory where they are listed. “NAP” simply stands for Name, Address and Phone number.
If your physicians are penalized for inconsistent NAP across directories they may well not appear on page one of Google results for your target keywords and so patients may never even find them (92% of searchers only look at page one of results–per Chitika.)
2. Your branding is inconsistent
When health systems have acquired medical practices, specialty centers or hospitals the names listed in different online directories don’t all match and don’t all match the system’s naming convention.
All physicians listed online need to conform to the system’s naming convention. Some systems have hundreds of affiliated doctors and so fixing this problem can become a huge undertaking.
3. Patients at the wrong door
The most obvious problem with incorrect names, addresses and phone numbers is that patients cannot call a doctor or worse go to the wrong physical location for an appointment. (I have done this myself!)
Patients will not be happy with either scenario and it will color their view of not only the doctor but the system itself.
4. Your physicians have weak reviews
Another reason patients may not visit a physician is because the doctor has poor reviews!
A 2014 JAMA study found that 59% of patients considered online ratings at least somewhat important in selecting a physician.
According to BrightLocal’s 2015 research only 13% of consumers will consider using a business with a 1 or 2 star online rating.
27% of patients say they use Yelp to read or write reviews. Right behind Yelp is Healthgrades and RateMDs, each with 26%. When it comes to trustworthiness, Yelp and Healthgrades were both billed as the most trustworthy review source by 26% of patients, with RateMDs right behind them at 24%.
Patients are taking online reviews more seriously every year and they are reading reviews on a variety of sites. This means health systems need to put monitoring systems in place that track all review sites and set up processes to respond to reviews they do find.
5. Google likes reviews too
Google is listening too.
Google has noticed that patients like review sites and is giving these kind of sites favorable placement in search results.
Moz.com annual survey found that reviews are now 10% of the total ranking factors that make up placement in local search rankings. Our own SEO team has observed that reviews are becoming more and more important as each year goes by.
A doctor’s online reviews could soon be a big factor in whether his website (and other online listings) comes up on page one of Google, or not.
6. How to fix your listings
The problem with fixing online listings is that for each location (for example each doctor) there may be dozens of listings across the Internet. To fix each listing can take many minutes and to fix all the listings across the Internet for just one location could take hours upon hours. Clearly this is not a viable plan for a health system of any size.
Marketers need “power tools”. Tools, such as Connectivity, can automate much of the process of updating hundreds of listings across the Internet.
7. You need to gather your good reviews
Hospital marketers need to take full control of all their online reviews, boosting their system’s online reputation and search results.
Every review on the Internet relating to your physicians and facilities must first be found. Once you have collected and analyzed all your reviews, you can respond appropriately (based on your social media policies.)
In order to proactively boost their system’s online reputation, marketers should collect positive reviews. This can be achieved by sending patients a review request (usually by email).
Tools exist to collect reviews in a moderated environment where only 4 to 5-star reviews are automatically published and reviews with ratings lower are sent to a staff member for one-on-one follow up.