By Glenn Lombardi
With all the hype surrounding online reviews, it’s important to take a proactive approach to managing and promoting a healthy reputation for your practice on the Web. A few good reviews can send new patients flocking through your office door, but one disgruntled patient’s opinion about your practice can have a negative impact on your brand, and ultimately the number of appointment requests you generate from the Internet.
We’re here to tell you that it is possible and even easy to monitor your reputation online and acquire a steady flow of positive reviews on major review sites.
1. Get a feel for your current reputation.
The first step in building a good image for your practice online is to understand what is already out there about you. You can do this by searching and scanning the search results for mentions of your name. Not showing up at all isn’t necessarily a good thing. No Web presence means one of two things: that you either don’t have a website or that you haven’t optimized your site for the search engines. Either way, you’re missing out on local patients and need to get online right away.
2. Build a professional, high-ranking website.
If you’ve already mastered this important piece of the online reputation puzzle, then you can skip to the next phase below. But if you’ve yet to launch a website for your practice, then it’s time you get with the times and claim your spot on the Internet. The first place patients are looking when they need a dentist is major search engines like Google and Yahoo! If your practice isn’t listed on the search results pages among the other dentists in your area, potential clicks and new patients will be lost to your competitors.
3. Verify your Google Place Page and local directory listings.
Google dominates when it comes to local search. They are leaders at connecting users with the local services they are searching for, and they’ve got a great local search interface to prove it. If you want to show up on the first page when a patient searches for a dentist in your local town, then you must claim and verify your Google Place Page. You will want to do the same for other local listings as well, including Yahoo! An online marketing company can help you set up and optimize these important listings to quickly launch your local presence all across the Web.
4. Start asking for reviews.
Many dentists aren’t sure how to approach this step. How do you ask a patient to review your practice? Which patients do you ask? Start with your most loyal patients. The majority of your patient base is probably already familiar with the Internet and review sites, and will have no problem providing a good word for their trusted dentist. Make the process easy by providing the patient with simple step-by-step instruction cards that walk the patient through leaving an online review from their home computer. If you have a mobile-compatible website, your website provider can even provide links to your review sites on your mobile page so that your most tech-savvy patients can review your practice directly from their smartphones. You’ll have captured their review before they even leave your office.
The bottom line is that the opinion existing patients have of your practice can either have a highly rewarding or extremely damaging impact on your potential to generate new patients from the Web. Not taking responsibility is the worst approach you can take. Luckily, you don’t have to handle any of this on your own. Seek the help of a dental website and online marketing provider who understands the intricacies of the search engines, reviews, and your industry.
Glenn Lombardi is president of Officite, LLC, the No. 1 provider of websites and Internet presence management strategies for the dental community. Officite has built more than 6,000 websites that have generated hundreds of thousands of appointment requests since 2002. To learn more, visit www.officite.com or call (800) 908-2483.
By Glenn Lombardi