We all remember that fateful day when we passed through the doors of our High School for the very first time. Brow sweaty and backpack brimming, we knew that our reputation from years past would follow our footsteps down the hallway, but that we’d also have an entirely different arena in which to create anew.
The scenario itself may have changed, but many of the principles remain the same. Our reputation still precedes us when we enter a new environment, though now the World Wide Web is usually the messenger, for better or worse. Whether it’s a new job, a meeting, a fundraiser, a date, or something in-between, there are more ways than ever for those around us to do their homework, on us, before meeting face to face.
That’s right, a simple Google keyword search can bring up anything from your veterinary practice’s website, to your Facebook page, and hopefully not those Instagram pictures from your best friend’s wedding. While it may seem like you have no control over what people find out about you online, the truth is that you have more of a say in the matter than you think.
Google has a remarkably comprehensive system in place for coordinating user search results and delivering them in a timely, deliberate and meaningful fashion. What might seem like random results at first glance is actually a highly methodical process unfolding in real-time. “Crawlers” (know singularly as Googlebot) continuously sort through billions of web pages from each corner of the globe, algorithmically analyzing, assessing, ranking, and indexing web pages and sorting through each applicable result.
So what does this mean for you? It means that when a pet owner is looking for the best care online and nonchalantly typing in “pet hospital in your city”; your results aren’t random. In fact, they’re far from it. Google, which accounts for approximately 70% of search engine market share, is calculating your keywords and weighing-out millions of results before delivering them to you, all in about 0.5 seconds flat. The key takeaway here is this: practice owners can, and frankly need to, monitor and enhance their business’s search results in order to maintain and leverage their Online Reputation.
For example, when searching online for a local veterinary practice, customer reviews will gravitate toward the top of the screen, and instantly display the name, website, address, phone number, and here’s the kicker, one to five star average rating, of nearby practices. In a Google Search (by far the most common kind of online perusal) this one to five score is the combined average rating of the “Google Reviews” that have been left for your practice. These scores can dramatically influence the amount of new clients that find, and ultimately choose your veterinary practice. This is why practice owners must safeguard and even encourage the establishment of a positive Online Reputation in order to fully optimize their practice.
Ok, so Keyword Searches and Google Reviews are all important factors to consider when managing my Online Reputation. But what can I do about it and how can I use these tools to enhance my practice? Well, I’m happy you asked!