Sometimes, just a single negative review or news story can greatly impact your practice’s reputation. In the past, when search engine use was less prevalent, negative press might eventually blow over. People forget, and everyone moves on.
However, as more and more people use search engines to find or learn more about physicians, negative press could affect your reputation for much longer than it might have in the past.
The problem is, once a negative article or review hits the internet, it’s a lot harder for people to forget about. They’ll be reminded every time they do a Google search related to your name. It’s much easier to share that information with others online, and the more people share and link to negative press, the more likely it is to rank in search results.
That doesn’t mean you’re completely helpless in this situation, but you’ll need to be ready to put in a significant amount of work if you want to improve your online reputation. Search engine optimization (SEO) should be part of that work. Good SEO work can help you suppress negative press. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for getting rid of negative press online–it will take time and effort, but when done correctly, it can be quite effective.
Step 1: Search for Your Name
You need to know where you stand–and more importantly, where the negative press stands–when you search for your name on Google. The goal of using SEO for reputation management is to try to outrank negative search results with positive search results. To do this, you’ll need to know how the negative content is showing up so that you can focus that in your SEO efforts. As you’re searching, look for negative results on the first 2 -3 pages, as well as any negative autocomplete suggestions as you are typing in the search query. It’s better to know this information before you get started so that you can create the most effective plan.
Step 2: Create Original Content
When you create your own original content, the goal is to outrank negative content with positive content. If you don’t have any content on your website explaining your specialties, that is a good place to start. This content can help you rank and attract patients for the procedures you perform and the conditions you treat, rather than for negative news.
You may also want to consider starting a blog. With a blog, you can continue to put out content on a regular basis and associate your name with positive, helpful content. Depending on how prevalent the negative links are, it may take a good bit of time and content to outrank the negative press, but eventually you should begin to see positive results.
Step 3: Create Social Media Pages
Social media is another way to send out new, positive messages. However, you need to be prepared to post regularly. You won’t be able to just create a profile and allow it to become inactive. On your social media accounts, you can share your participation in community events, upcoming events, and health tips. At a minimum, you should have Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ profiles. You may also want to create videos and add them to YouTube or Vimeo. Be sure to link to your website on all of your social media profiles.
If you have a blog, social media is also a great place to share those articles. Sharing your blog posts can help to get your content in front of more people, who may in turn share your content as well. The more people that link to your content, the better chance you have at outranking negative content. This brings us to the next step…
Step 4: Build Credible Links
Social media pages and blog subdomains can be a start to building links, but you may want to extend beyond that. Reach out to local news sites, health blogs, and other websites outside of your own to see if they will feature your articles. Being featured on other credible sites is a great way to build up your reputation in the community, and can also help to improve your search ranking if these outlets link back to your site.
It is important to note that even if you are diligent and consistent with your efforts, it may take as long as a year to squash negative press in search results. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider working with a public relations expert to help you manage your reputation and further move the process along.
Moving forward, do what you can to mitigate negative press before it happens. Do your best to resolve problems before they end up on the internet, and make sure to regularly check review sites so that you can respond quickly when a problem does arise. If you make a positive impact in your community, you can naturally create the kind of positive coverage you want to see.