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News & Press: Industry News

Today’s Standards for Practice Growth: Use Smart Software to Boost Reputation and Visibility Online

Friday, April 26, 2019   (0 Comments)
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Written for AAOE by Sheryl Cragun Dame, SocialClimb

Intelligent, affordable software systems now make it easy for any size practice to improve online reputation, attract patients, and grow practice volume and revenue. They do this not by “gaming” the system, but by understanding how today’s customers find and choose physicians online, then helping practices manage this process in a simple, automated way. After choosing and setting up this kind of system, practice managers can rely on them to boost their practice’s online visibility and rankings, while also helping their practice to more effectively respond to strategic business needs, and to daily physician and patient care.


How Today’s Patients Find and Choose Physicians Online

Smart software systems understand online customer behavior, and they understand how search engines, like Google, choose which practices to list in search results. Practice managers do not have to be experts, as they can eventually depend on their software to integrate and act on this knowledge. However, understanding these basic principles will help a practice manager choose software that really does the job:


  • Customers want to immediately find the information they need to make a good decision and act on it right away. Google analytics have shown that searchers increasingly want to make high-quality decisions “right here, right now.” Customers want to see reviews, a link to a website, phone numbers, a location on a map, and more. If they can quickly find the information they need and act on it quickly, right from the search results, they are more likely to choose that practice.


  • Google search results rank and display medical practices in the “Local Search 3-pack.” When someone searches online for a medical service, Google lists the “best-fit” results in the Local Search 3-pack (pictured below), which includes a map with location pins, plus important information about these practices. When Google lists a medical practice in the Google 3-pack, potential customers see this practice. But if a practice does not show up in this list, then it does not matter how good the practice’s surgeons are, because potential clients may never find them. Even with word-of-mouth referrals, today’s patients will first conduct an online search to validate the referral. If they do not find the physician or practice quickly in their search, then they are likely to choose the one that does.


  • Search engines prefer local practices. Search results for services are called the Local Search 3-pack because Google knows people want services near them, so local is the most important factor Google looks for. Google uses GPS and IP address signals to know where a person is when they conduct a search, and Google also uses a device’s historical location data to know where this person usually is when conducting most of their searches. Then Google lists the closest practices. It is essential for practices to keep their online addresses current.


  • Search engines prefer practices that make it easy for search engines to find and scan important information. The internet has so much information to scan, that search engines reward practices who set up an internet listing page, like a Google My Business page. Set up correctly, these listing pages include information that patients usually want to know. The listing pages conform to a format that the search engine can easily find and scan, to check for that “best fit” information.


  • Search engines prefer practices that present themselves as a relevant, high-quality choice. Because Google knows customers want to make a good choice fast, the search engine scans the practice listing for medical services that not only match the search, but for important decision-making data, like regular high reviews and real customer interest in that practice. Google determines “real interest” by noticing whether patients leave reviews, searchers click on a page for more information, or whether customers and the business interact with photos, posts, and Q/A options.


Reputation Management vs. Reputation Marketing

Building an online presence to attract customers (including maintaining that positive reputation through effective service recovery) is often called reputation management. However, reputation marketing is a more forward-looking, business-building paradigm. Search engines reward practices that have built real online reputations based on consistent, high-quality care. As they make this process easy for practices, the best software systems turn your well-earned reputation into something that does not have to be managed, but that instead is automatically marketed to grow your business and increase revenue.


Evaluating Reputation Marketing Software

Because reputation marketing software simplifies office work with a high ROI besides, almost any practice will benefit from implementing this kind of system. To choose a reputation marketing system, practice managers should first do a practice-specific cost/benefit analysis, and then look for a system that does all of the following:


  • Helps practices set up and maintain a separate internet listing page for each physician at each location. An accurate address makes all the difference to showing up as local in the Local Search 3-pack. The best software systems help you optimize these listing pages by prompting you to include all the information search engines are looking for, to see if your practice is that best fit. The best software systems simplify the creation and management of listing pages by including tools that track all your listing pages and can duplicate and update information across multiple pages.


  • Broadcasts the information that busy potential clients need to make decisions. The most effective software systems make sure your listing page includes the information busy people want to make decisions and act right away. With your listing page set up fully, Google will show searchers the decision-making information they need, with active links so they can take action right from the search results.


  • Gathers a regular flow of reviews and ratings online. Beyond an accurate and optimized listing page, the most important things practices need is a consistent stream of high-quality reviews. Google looks for results customers want. Customers want high quality, and Google assumes a practice’s ratings reflect their real quality. The most effective reputation software systems integrate with practice management software to invite every patient to provide a review and rating, right from a text or email link. A statistically sound collection of real reviews almost always yields positive results, as opposed to the old hit-and-miss method of waiting for customers who are so unhappy that they look up your practice to let off steam.


  • Helps practices adopt a patient-focused standard for quality care. The most robust reputation software systems include tools to help you follow best practices for customer satisfaction. For example, some systems offer tools that simplify service recovery, scanning the internet for any negative reviews, and then organizing them for easy response and tracking. Some systems offer survey tools to help meet government requirements and industry standards. The best systems generate reports to help practices improve in every part of the customer service loop, using real feedback data to monitor practice service trends, compare themselves to industry benchmarks, and take action to meet patient expectations.


  • Automates the entire process to make it easy for busy practices. Automation yields consistent, high-quality results and saves time and money. If practices try to take the above steps manually, their approach will be fractured, and employees will be exhausted. In contrast, these automated software systems can easily reach all practice patients and generate needed results with ease.


Practice managers who understand that the internet drives patient choice can take one simple step that makes a huge difference to their business’s bottom line. By simply adopting an effective reputation marketing software system, practice managers will soon see their online reputation increase and their surgeons rank high in Local Search results, all as they simplify their workflow. Their optimized listing and their real, high-quality reputation will then compel customer choice, and their practice will see significant growth.


At our upcoming AAOE Annual Conference in May, Ty Allen of SocialClimb will explain how practices can increase their online ratings and grow practice revenue during his session, “Top-Rated Ortho Practices Increase Revenue Via 5-Star Reputations. You Can Too!” 

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