When someone conducts an online search for dental services, they, along with the other 40 percent of people who rely on digital vehicles to find a healthcare provider, are in a decision making process. In fact, 75 percent of consumers don’t scroll past the first page, making the first few search results on Google the most important.
Have you ever searched a business and a bad news story or negative review popped up before the business’ own website? That’s an unhealthy search, and those ave negative results have the potential to damage the reputation of your business.
DIY Damage Control
There’s no fast fix for getting rid of negative search results. Beware of companies that claim they can and charge exorbitant fees. The truth is, combatting negative search results happens organically when positive results replace or “push down” negative ones, which typically takes some time. The good news is, you can tackle much of it yourself without spending a dime, starting with knowing where you stand.
Conduct your own diagnostics by using relevant search terms to find your business on Google and get a feel of what your reputation looks like to potential customers. Before you panic, you can start taking action right now to combat negative results:
1. Own your sources
Some users turn to platforms like Yelp! to leave a review, and this review will in turn create a page for your business if it’s not already on there. This is also true for Facebook’s “Check-In” feature, which allows users to create locations for existing businesses not already set up on Facebook. Is your business popping up on websites you don’t have a business account for? Take control by creating a business account and then claiming the user-generated business pages.
2. Respond to negative reviews
Although it is tempting to delete these user generated pages, it’s best to claim them as your business instead. Deleting a page doesn’t make the review go away, and you can keep the bad (and good) reviews under your radar with your newly established business account. Google my Business has options for you to claim your business and respond to reviews, as does Yelp! and TripAdvisor. Take this opportunity to go in and respond to appropriate reviewers with grievances. If the review is over a year old, it may be best not to engage with that person. If a review has slanderous material or inappropriate language, you can always report it to the website host. Website hosts like Yelp! and Facebook have certain criteria for what they consider inappropriate, so your request may be denied, but it’s worth a try.
3. Encourage positive reviews
The best way to get over a bad review is to bury it under fresh, positive ones. Encourage your customers to review your business by telling them what platforms you are on. This can be as simple as including, “Like us on Facebook!” on referral or business cards inside patients’ dental kits.
4. Have a mobile friendly website
Last year, Google changed its algorithm to optimize search results for the devices people are using. In short, if your website is not mobile-friendly and a potential customer searches “dentists in my area” from their phone, your website wouldn’t be on the first page. Google wants users that search on a smartphone to go to a website that’s easy to use on a smartphone. Not sure if your website is mobile-friendly? Check it here. In the case that your website is not mobile-friendly, talk with your website developer to see your mobile-friendly options.
5. Use social media regularly
Social media posts are now searchable and can populate when someone searches your business on Google. This can bury the negativity, too. For example, when searching for Toyota, its Twitter account is the second result listed on Google, directly underneath Toyota’s company website. This is a great tool to take advantage of, particularly on platforms like Twitter and Facebook where you get to dictate what your business’ message to the public is. And don’t forget, consumers use social media channels to search for businesses, too.