The web can be a competitive place, especially when you are running a medical practice. What prospects see when they search for your medical practice online will decide your growth and profitability. Ever wondered what prospects find when they Google your medical practice? Ideally, search engine results that show your practice website, social media pages, blogs, medical practice profiles and news content. And each one of these should demonstrate your brand in a positive light.
But if your target audience is not seeing all of this, and you have poor online visibility or negative reviews, you are missing out on potential patients. Evidence shows that medical practices risk losing a significant chunk of medical practice when potential patients find just one piece of harmful content in search engine results. This loss will increase with four or more negative reviews. The damage will come in the form of revenue loss as well as reputation loss.
For your target audience to perceive your medical practice in the best light, and to gain an edge over competitors, you need to know and control what searchers find online. In order to do this effectively, you will need to think and do beyond a basic Google search of your brand name. You will need to conduct an online audit of your reputation.
What Is an Online Brand Reputation Audit?
An online brand reputation audit is one of the most critical things you can do for your medical practice.
You can conduct an online audit of your reputation yourself. This “DIY” method starts with identifying:
- How do you want your medical practice to be viewed by searchers online?
- Who are your target audiences?
- What actions do you want potential patients to take?
An online reputation audit can serve as a foundation on which your reputation-based earnings will rest. A rigorous reputation audit will reveal:
- Factors that drive your target audience’s perception of your brand and their chances to engage with you.
- An actionable roadmap to grab not only low-hanging fruit but also a defensible view of long-term strategies.
- An understanding of how your target audience is engaging with unfavorable online content and how that is affecting your growth and profitability.
A Medical Practice Online Reputation Audit Is a Multi-Step Process
Modern-day online reputation management straddles the digital healthcare marketing and public relations worlds: Top-tier medical practice brand reputation audits are executed by cross-functional teams of ORM experts who draw on healthcare marketing, crisis management and legal knowledge.
Conducting an online brand reputation audit is best-approached when broken into small steps.
1. Analyze Related Keywords and Phrases
The first step to any online reputation audit is an ORM survey that queries mentions of your medical practice and its management or doctors. Research phrases and keywords your target audience would use when searching for your brand.
It is not enough to monitor only a handful of keywords; you will need to include more specific terms that include your:
- Medical practice name
- Service names
- Key influencers that your brand engages with and C-suite executives
- Practice locations
- Common misspellings of all the above
By keeping in mind all potential keywords patients might use, you will be able to conduct a more thorough online reputation audit of your medical practice.
2. Collect Actionable Data on Keywords
After compiling a list of keywords related to your brand, you will need to conduct a series of online searches.
The majority of small medical practices use a combination of platforms for auditing their online reputation, such as social networks, Google search results and third-party review sites.
Medical practices can use these platforms to track:
- Keyword hits on leading search engines.
- Mentions on review sites.
- Current market share of your brand. This will give you a bird’s-eye view of your online reputation performance compared to your competitors.
- Brand awareness impact. This will tell you how search engine results are helping or damaging your ability to attract local patients versus your competitors.
Ideally, you should repeat this process three to five times to make sure you are not missing out on any results. If your medical practice has multiple locations, use a proxy search tool to get localized results.
After you have completed your iterations, put together a report that gives you an actionable picture of your real online presence.
3. Create a Short-Term Roadmap to Put Out “Fires”
You must set up achievable goals based on your centralized knowledge of “fires,” such as harmful business listings, negative reviews and other unfavorable assets displayed on popular search engines Google, Bing and Yahoo. This includes:
- Negative comments on social networks, blogs and news articles.
- External and internal reviews, targeted location trends, frequency and the aggregate rating.
Armed with this crucial information, you can launch strategic online reputation audit campaigns to help you:
- Suppress negative results on search engine results pages.
- Debunk misperceptions relating to your brand.
- Drive new and positive online reviews.
- Target strategic placement opportunities with authoritative sites to protect your online reputation.
4. Build a Robust Plan
In the second leg of your medical practice online reputation audit journey, you will assess your findings to form a bigger picture of your online reputation performance and how it impacts patients’ likelihood of responding to your brand messaging.
While creating a long-term online reputation management strategy, you will also need to analyze the causation between online reputation performance and not only lead generation but determining how many leads your poor reputation might be costing you.
We are at an inflection point where ORM practices are becoming inextricably fused with word-of-mouth marketing and other digital marketing tactics. Our prediction? Short-term ORM strategies and SEO tricks will either be altered to be more accountable and strategic or they will disappear in the wave of rigorous healthcare ORM best practices.
Medical practices will need to adopt a more systematic approach to execute an ORM strategy that not only handles harmful online content but also lets them control the online narrative to build stronger and long-term value in their brand messaging. And a rigorous online reputation audit will give you the foundation for this value.