How to manage your online reputation

2013 06 19 14 45 56 549 Pedersen Mike 200

What is your dental practice's most important asset? These days, it's your online reputation. As a dentist, you are most likely the owner of your practice, and it is imperative that you implement a reputation management strategy to represent your practice in a positive light online.

Mike Pedersen.Mike Pedersen.
Mike Pedersen.

Did you know that people are online right now searching for your dental services? And that more and more users are turning to reviews to help them decide which dentist office to choose?

I want to share some reputation statistics that will make you quickly realize how important your online dental reputation is:

  • More than 50% of U.S. consumers are more likely to use a local business after reading a positive review online.
  • 64% of consumers search for online reviews before making a purchase decision.
  • 74% will change their mind based on a bad review.
  • 89% of online users trust reviews.
  • 72% trust online reviews as much as personal referrals.

There are many more, but those are just a few to chew on and absorb regarding the importance of reviews for your practice moving forward.

What is online reputation management? It is:

  • Building -- Many dental practices have no reviews or, equally as bad, negative reviews. That is why building your online reputation should be the focal point of your marketing. Look at it this way: What if you had first-page rankings for your practice, but had bad reviews or no reviews? That literally wipes out the value of those high rankings.

  • Maintaining -- This is just as important as building. Once you've created this positive online reputation, you need to have a strategy (system) in place to keep it. I've worked with several dentists who started out with a few positive reviews, then got lackadaisical and got some bad reviews and didn't know what to do.

  • Recovery -- We've worked with several dentists who had bad reviews and were losing new patients from it. Having a strategy in place to quickly deal with bad reviews is another critical component of your online reputation.

How to achieve a 5-star reputation

First, provide outstanding service to your patients, starting at the front desk all the way through to checking out after their appointment.

Gather reviews when a patient mentions how good the service was. Google's terms of service state you cannot solicit reviews, but if a patient states how happy they are, you can then ask them if they would provide a review for your practice.

Nip a negative review ASAP. Have a reputation monitoring system set up to alert you to any negative reviews. Contact the patient and do what it takes to "make it right," and there is a good chance they will remove the negative review or modify it to a positive one.

Create a five-star culture in your practice. Make sure every contact with a patient is an incredible experience for them.

Take dental emergencies when they come in, even if they are a little later in the afternoon or on the weekend. Those patients will scream from the rooftops how amazing your practice is. Each emergency you handle will result in many more new patients from the goodwill and positive reviews online from that patient.

Top review sites for dentists

Here are some of the leading review/directory sites you should be actively engaging with:

  • Google+ Local as it influences search rankings and shows on the first page if you have an optimized page.
  • Yelp is the big daddy but it can be difficult to get reviews to stick unless the patient is a "Yelper" and is active on Yelp.
  • Healthgrades is a medical niche directory and is showing up on the first page of Google searches for many results across the U.S.
  • Doctoroogle is another doctor-related directory that is gaining ground and Google seems to like at this time.
  • Kudzu also is garnering many first-page results for dentists, but you must gather a lot of reviews to get your specific practice listing in Kudzu to rank on the first page.
  • You should never ignore Yahoo Local, and with the recent CEO addition of ex-Google employee Marissa Mayer, you can bet they will be a bigger player online for dentists.
  • -- even though its print book is all but dead, people still use its online site to find local dentists.
  • Insider Pages is another one that Google is crawling for reviews, so you shouldn't ignore it either.

These are just the top few, but there are more than 200 sites you should be optimized for to ensure your practice is getting the highest possible rankings in search engines. This takes a knowledgeable firm that has a safe and effective way to build out your online presence on all those directories without hurting your business.

As you can see, it is a huge and ongoing undertaking to build, maintain, and recover your online reputation. I hope this information has opened your eyes to how important it is to constantly strive for a five-star reputation online. A positive online reputation can make all the difference in the success -- or failure -- of your dental practice.

Mike Pedersen is an Internet marketing strategist for dentists. One of the services his company AZNetMarketing offers is Reputation Management. Do you want to find out your online reputation score? Do it for free with Mike's Dental Reputation Report.

Page 1 of 44
Next Page