According to Pew Research, more than half of American adults have Googled their names at least once. People with more education and more income are more likely to Google themselves, but most people rarely check their online reputation. We don’t Google our clients regularly — we have alerts for reputation management — but we’ve had to Google a few doctors recently.
What we found made me want to recommend that you check how you look in the SERPs every now and then.
Remember that what you see is not what others see. Different people get different results, not only because people’s searches — the things they actually type in the search box — are different, but because Google takes into account your location, the things you’ve searched before, your social media connections, and so forth.
One doctor client recently found a mean comment about herself at an obscure blog. It showed up for her at the top of the page and was naturally very upsetting. We had to do a dozen searches before we could make it show up at all. That means that most people are not seeing that when they look for her name. We would not have known that comment was there if she hadn’t Googled herself and found it.
So that’s reason #1 to Google yourself.
1. You can find the negatives and deal with them.
For many medical professionals, healthcare grade sites like Healthgrades.com and Vitals.com are the top results on the search engine results pages. A Loyola University study found that the average rating at sites like these is based on just one or two reviews. And anyone who has looked at these sites knows that negative reviews are more often about support staff or billing than about the qualifications of the doctors.
But patients and prospective patients who Google a doctor’s name and see three stars at the top of the page are likely to feel less confident about that doctor. The same holds true for news stories.
Sometimes you can reach out to a website’s owner and ask that negative information be removed, especially if it isn’t accurate. Even if they won’t cooperate, though, you can fix the problem once you’re aware of it by pushing those items down the page. Your website and social media can and should take up the top spaces on the search engine results page and push those results down.
2. You can find the positives and promote them.
We were surprised when we saw negatives for the doctors we searched, but we were also surprised by some positives. The clients didn’t mention all the great stuff they’d done, and those small town newspaper reports or outdated newsletters were many pages into the search results. Once we found the information, we had the opportunity to promote it.
Those of us with long careers can’t be expected to keep our accomplishments in mind all the time, but Google can do it for you. If you Google your own name and get a result that makes you think, “Oh, right, that was a cool thing we did!”, then you can put that information somewhere prominent, like your own website.
3. You can correct information.
One thing that we often see when we Google a client is old information. Old phone numbers and addresses, profiles that say “for two years” instead of “since 2001,” and other now-false data lives on in listings all across the internet.
You need to get in there every now and then and correct that old information. Or have a company like Haden Interactive do it for you.
4. You can catch damaging images.
Images don’t affect search engine results very much… except in image search. One of our recent searches was for an image we could use for a blog post. A search for our client’s name brought up sultry shots of someone with the same name. Or they could perhaps be sultry shots of our client. We don’t want to know.
A professional photo or casual snaps that convey the professional image you want should be the first results. Those first few images often show up on the SERPs even if the searcher doesn’t click on “Images.”
Image search is a lot less precise than text search. Check out my name’s search results below:
The text is all me, but an actress who shares my name gets most of the image space. That’s reasonable, and it’s not a problem for me — but how would your patients feel if they saw these images and assumed they were yours?
Gideon’s SERPs show a lot more personal images. Nothing embarrassing — but do they convey the message a medical professional would want?
Most people are surprised by the images Google chooses for their name. If yours don’t communicate the message you want them to, it’s worth fixing.
5. Your patients Google you.
And that’s really the most important point.
Doctors get looked up by name more than most professionals. You need to make sure that your practice or facility’s website comes up first when people look for you. You don’t know exactly what your patients see when they Google your name, but checking what you see on a few different computers can help you get an idea of how you’re showing up in the SERPs.
Haden Interactive can help doctors, physicians, and medical professionals take control of their online presence. Contact us online, or call, 479-966-9761 to get started today.