Regardless if you have a website or are active on social media, you do need to claim the accounts automatically created on the many business directories listing you and your medical practice.
Google +, Facebook, Angie’s List, Yelp and dozens of other business directories “aggregate” information about businesses in order to build a comprehensive business listing.
It is here that your “online reputation” resides and these “off-page” sites also heavily influence your local SEO.
Most of these sites provide basic information about your medical practice, such as Name, Address and Phone number. Some will provide information about your education, credentials and participation with insurance plans. Most ask for reviews from patients.
Why You Should Claim These Accounts
There are 3 reasons to claim these accounts.
- Ensure contact information is correct
- Monitor online reputation and respond to reviews
- Improve Off-Page SEO
Almost all of these sites are aggregators (sites which collect information about similar businesses) and do NOT collect their information from you. Unlike Manta, a so-called 1st party collector, the others can collect information from a variety of sources. The information collected, however, can be wrong or dated.
For instance, your business address might be shared with these sites by your local medical society, but you haven’t paid your society dues in years since you moved to your new office. As a result, your name and business is listed, but the contact information is wrong.
Patients trying to find you have hit a roadblock. So you want to claim these accounts to ensure and verify the information published is correct.
The second reason to claim these sites is to enable you to respond to reviews. Although we recommend you set up a free “Google Alert” to help monitor the Internet of any review posted, I also encourage that you respond to every review you find.
Responding demonstrates a willingness of you and your business to engage your customers over the Internet (patients want to be engaged). Your responding will also generate more reviews as it demonstrates you are involved.
Improve Off-Page SEO!
Local search, believe it or not, and online reputation management are closely related. The same sites which will propel your local search results are also the same sites which constitute the majority of your “online reputation.” Your “off-page” reputation lies within these sites.
The 3rd reason is to ensure these sites are linked to your website. With every account on every site, make sure you create a link to the home page of your website. This is particularly important with health related aggregators such as Healthgrades. Creating these “backlinks” will improve the overall SEO of your website.
What Can You Do?
Depending upon your locale, there are probably 2-3 dozen such sites. I recommend checking Google+, Yelp, Angie’s List and Facebook for existing accounts. Claim or verify any account you find.
Correct your contact in formation. Make sure your NAP (Name, Address and Phone) are EXACTLY the same from site to site. Decide to consistently spellout or use abbreviations for the NAP. This will avoid Google (Bing and Yahoo) from creating multiple addresses for your medical practice. The more often Google indexes the same address…the higher you’ll rank in local search.