What Is Google Saying Behind Your Back?
These days, the Internet is a powerful tool for budding dental practices, giving new practitioners the chance to spread the word about their business, explain different services, and even offer helpful post-procedural instructions to patients who may have lost their papers on the way home. However, having a nice-looking website will only help you if patients can find your page, navigate through the site, and like what they read. To make things even more complicated, the web offers critics the opportunity to say whatever they want about your practice—potentially damaging your reputation and hindering future business.
To protect your opportunity to prosper, it is important for all dentists to learn what Google is saying behind your back. Here are three tips for creating a beautiful, effective website and monitoring your reputation in cyberspace.
Evaluate Your Online Presence
Do you remember when you started thinking about opening up your own dental practice? When it came time to start looking for an office space, you probably spent months evaluating different locations, checking traffic patterns, and analyzing competition in the area. Unfortunately, when it comes to their online presence, many dentists opt for the equivalent of setting up a temporary shack in a town nobody has heard of, and then failing to post signs on how to get there.
After hiring capable staff and filling their offices with top-of-the-line equipment, some dentists slap together a website in a few minutes and then hope for the best. When they experience little to no traffic on their new dental website, most dentists are left scratching their heads—wondering where they went wrong.
Google is a competitive place, and most customers don’t have the time or patience to scroll through pages of results to find your new practice. In fact, research has shown that up to 75% of searchers don’t even move past the first page. If your new website shows up on the second or third page, your chances of dazzling that new patient might be slim to none.
Depending on how you set up your website and how competitive your local market is, your page could be dead last in the Google search rankings or hanging out on the front page—it all depends. To see what Google is saying about you, spend a few minutes to evaluate your online presence. Using the Google search bar, try typing in “dentist in (your area).” If you can’t find your page, try entering progressively more specific terms to describe your practice to see how much customers would have to know to find your site. If your site is missing or Google requires the exact name of your practice to pull up your site, you should think about overhauling your website.
Consider Your Technical and Time Limitations
Sure, that online web-builder might help you to create an aesthetically pleasing site in a few minutes, but how much traffic are you getting? Google uses a set of carefully crafted algorithms to determine which sites would be most applicable and pleasing to customers. Unless you minored in Information Technology and understand how to use the Google Webmaster tools, chances are that you don’t have the time or skill set to adjust how Google and other search engines see your site. Professionals who specialize in web page development can alter everything from the crawl rate at which Google indexes your site to the speed that your web page loads, which is why it is in your best interest to consider your technical and time limitations.
If you are busy building your new practice, consider hiring a company that specializes in SEO, or search engine optimization. These businesses can evaluate the very intricate aspects of your site, such as which technologies and computer languages were used to build the site, why the site isn’t responding quickly, which keywords are used to attract customers to the site, and how mobile friendly your page is. Some SEO companies even have specific branches dedicated to web design, creating beautiful, functional websites that are easy to find online. To save yourself time and improve your online presence, focus on dentistry and leave the web design and optimization to the IT experts.
Proactively Manage Your Reputation
Another mistake people make when it comes to their websites is failing to evaluate and manage their reputation online. When it comes to managing a successful practice, a few negative reviews or comments by a competitor can spell trouble for your budding business. Patients can get the wrong idea about your business as soon as a single comment snowballs into an all-out bashing session online. Here are a few tips to manage your online reputation:
- Address Patient Concerns Early: One of easiest ways to protect your reputation online is to address patient concerns before they have a chance to comment. If a patient isn’t happy, go out of your way to listen to them and to address their concerns. By taking care of issues upfront, you can turn a negative customer experience into a positive one and keep your online reputation pristine.
- Respond Publicly: Instead of ignoring negative customer comments online, respond to them in a calm, kind, professional manner. Reach out to the patient to offer a solution, and don’t be afraid to state online how you resolved the issue. For example, if a customer was displeased about their recent root canal, explain that you offered to repeat the root canal for no additional charge. That way, other people can see that you did your part to fix the problem.
- Remove Negative Comments Online: If a customer leaves an inflammatory review online that you feel is inappropriate, you can flag it for Google, who will review the comment and potentially remove it from your listing. Check your social media pages daily to look for negative or irrational comments and take them down.
- Encourage Good Patients To Leave Reviews: To drown out negative comments, encourage good patients to leave reviews. Make it easy for patients to review your practice by including your social media or website URL on business cards, outdoor banners, or patient paperwork.
If your efforts aren’t enough to improve your online reputation, consider hiring a dental practice reputation management company. These business professionals understand how to comb through online information about your company, evaluate the quality of your online presence, and improve the public’s perception about your practice.
For more information about buying, managing, or selling a dental practice, contact ADS Dental Transitions.
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