If you’re anything like other LASIK practices we’ve worked with, you’ve spent years carefully cultivating a positive reputation. You’ve spent the time building your brand image in your own backyard. And you probably have plenty of happy clients willing to provide referrals at the drop of a hat.
But are all these reviews listed somewhere online? And do you have complete oversight over your online reputation?
With the proliferation of social media and other platforms, it’s become increasingly easy for users to propagate reviews—both positive and negative—online. Not to sound dramatic, but anyone with an internet connection can post a review that can help or harm your reputation. However, because 84 percent of people trust online reviews as much as friends and 91 percent of people read them, it’s safe to say that your online reputation can help sway potential new patients.
Did you know that the search engines care about your reputation as well?
The Search Quality Rater Guides (also referred to as the QRG) is used by Google’s quality raters to judge websites. These guidelines do not offer insight into how the Google algorithm operates; instead, they help outline standards used by the search engine giant. There’s plenty of content on our website that reviews how Google places emphasis on things like content and E-A-T. Content, quite literally, is the words found on your page. E-A-T, as we’ve blogged about before, refers to the expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness of your website.
Google also considers reputation an important high-level factor.
In the past, healthcare companies could churn out massive amounts of content—regardless of quality—to get higher rankings. Not anymore. Google now has a better grasp on search intent and user satisfaction. According to Google, a website’s reputation is based on the experience of real users as well as the opinion of people who are experts in that field.
If your website delivers on its promises, and users spend more time on your site, this sends signals that your content is high quality. In turn, this boosts your rankings. Therefore, your website’s reputation is predicated on how well you help end users understand your services and products. And Google judges your site based on how well it accomplishes this purpose.
But it also considers what they call “outside, independent reputation information” and looks at various sources to gauge the reputation of your company. This may include online review directories like Yelp, Trust Pilot, and other third-party aggregators. It can include high-quality news outlets that may have discussed your practice. And it can include awards or recommendations from experts or industry-specific professional organizations.
It is worth mentioning that a lack of reputation does not immediately indicate a low-quality page. But it can be assumed that the more negative buzz you have online, the harder it is to rank well on Google—which makes it harder for new patients to find your practice.
So, how should you manage your online reputation?
Basically, this all means that you should focus on customer satisfaction—which can impact your reputation and your site ranking. This means spending the time to manage your online reputation and deliver the right content to end users. And it means monitoring all reviews and citations.
As we’ve written about before, you should be tracking all online citations. A local citation is any mention of your practice online, whether it’s across social media platforms, your Google My Business, or healthcare-specific directories. Accurate, high-quality citations build your authority with Google and influence whether you appear across local searches.
You should also be responding to online reviews. If a review in question is positive, share your token of appreciation. If it instead centers on a misunderstanding or references incorrect information, respond politely and ask for clarification. Finally, if reviews are less-than-positive (shall we say…negative?), take the high road and own up to your shortcomings.
It goes without saying that you will receive negative reviews from time to time. It comes with the territory of running a business. However, the way that you interact with your consumers—and predict their needs—can make or break your online reputation. While it requires some legwork to track and monitor all mentions of your brand online, proactive management does help you reach a local audience.