What is the experience your practice provides your patients every time they step foot in your office? If you are like most of the dental practices Patterson partners with, you probably are in the process of updating the technology you have to offer more or better services to your patients. You probably ensure patients are greeted by friendly, knowledgeable staff members. You also probably take the time to make sure each patient is comfortable while they are in your office and with their treatment plan. All of these things, as well as many others, are important because they help to create a positive reputation for your practice. However, do you know what your reputation is online?

Online reputation is very important because it can not only impact the decisions of potential new patients, but can influence your current patients as well. Having a bad review of your dental office rank highly on Google, Yahoo!, Bing or other search engines can be very detrimental to your overall reputation, not just the particular site where the review is posted. Just as you would want your patient greeted with a friendly smile when they walk into your practice, you want to make sure the first thing patients see when they are searching for your practice online reflects that same “friendly smile” experience you try to create within your physical office.

Here are four simple steps to help ensure your online reputation reflects your practice well:

  1. Search – Use Google, Yahoo!, Bing, and other search engines to search for the name of your practice, dentists and other key office staff members. Keep a list of what results are returned, including positive, neutral and negative results. This should be something you do monthly, as results will change over time.
  2. Grow your online real estate – Every website your practice utilizes can be viewed as online real estate. Your dental practice’s website, Facebook page, Twitter account, Google+ page, Pinterest page, Google places listing, etc. are all channels where you can relatively control what is being said about your practice and therefore what reputation that portrays to the rest of the world. Basically the more real estate you have, the more search results you own.
  3. Boost positive results – One key reason certain results rank higher on search engines is due to the authority of the site that is returned. Several factors go into determining a site’s authority, but one is the number of links to that page. When you find good reviews, articles or posts about your practice, link to them from your practice’s website or social media accounts to help boost where they display within a search engine’s result set.
  4. Deal with negative results – If someone posts a negative review about your practice, it can be difficult to manage through. We know you care a lot about your practice and negative reviews can be taken very personally, but that can actually be a good thing. The best way to deal with negative comments or reviews is to try to correct the situation. Oftentimes reaching out to the patient directly (off line is best) and seeing what you can do to make the situation better goes a long way, even if you can’t give the patient everything he or she wants. Talk through the patient’s concerns, review them with everyone in your practice, and come up with ways to make sure another patient isn’t left feeling the same way. Even if the negative post is still ranking high on search results, in time your own online real estate and positive posts will push down the negative ones. The key here is to continually enhance the experience within your dental office to help ensure more negative posts aren’t made, especially for the same concern.

So, when is the last time you Googled for yourself or your dental office?

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