A lot of clichés have been said about the importance of a first impression, but they all emphasize a good point: first impressions matter. Years ago, your patients got their first impression of your practice when they walked into your waiting room and checked in with your staff.
But those days are long gone. Instead, your practice now makes its first impression through Google - a convenient, accessible resource available to the majority of your prospective patients. How do we know this? Because nine in ten Americans aged 34 and under own a smartphone, as do 67% of Americans aged 50 and older. All they have to do is take their phone out of their pocket, and suddenly your next patient is online and learning about your practice!
This modern lifestyle means that every provider and medical practice needs to have an impeccable online presence that makes a lasting, positive first impression. Note that we said “online presence” - not website. There’s a very specific reason for that:
Your online presence is not your website alone.
An “online presence” refers not to your website, but to the search results that appear when patients use search engines to hunt for information online. And make no mistake: patients are hunting for information. According to marketing research, 97% of users search for local businesses and local business owners’ names online. And 80% of patients search for medical information online, including doctor’s names and services.
With statistics like that, we know that patients are searching for doctors. When searching for information, however, patients aren’t looking for your website. They may find and visit your website - but that website alone will not satisfy them!
Instead, your patients will make an opinion based on their first impression of your overall search results, i.e. your online presence. Specifically, they’ll be interested in:
- Consistent Business Listings. Did you know that there are dozens of business listing websites on the Internet today? These listings are a powerful tool for local businesses, as four out of five consumers use search engines to find local information. Neglecting to maintain these listings, however, can make a bad impression as patients search for information about your practice. If they spot inconsistent listings, or can’t find listings at all, they’ll move on from you and look for a different care team.
- Reviews. Patients want to read reviews, no matter where they are in their care journey. For example, they may be looking for a potential new doctor; up to 77% of patients use online reviews to do so. They may be deciding which doctor to choose from a list of recommendations; 88% of patients would avoid seeing a physician with bad reviews, according to surveys and studies. They may even be preparing for a referral-based appointment; 41% of patients admit to checking out the providers they’re referred to. Together, these numbers show that modern practices like yours need to curate good reviews - and to properly manage bad ones.
Statistics and studies about how patients use the Internet to confirm that patients have one eye on Google. Their other eye? Their other eye is actually on your website.
While websites may not equal an entire online presence, they’re certainly part of an online presence. Therefore, they can play a huge role in your patients’ first impression of your practice. Specifically, good websites need to be properly maintained and presented to help make a good impression.
Consider the following: Google prioritizes fast, mobile-friendly, secure websites in search results. If your website does not meet each of these criteria, Google will make it harder for patients to find you. Plus, once patients do find you, they’ll just leave your website if it doesn’t load fast enough for their liking!
Additionally, remember that patients are as busy as you are. They don’t want to waste time on the phone - they want to get their appointment booked fast and to go about their day. That means that if you’re lacking an option to make an appointment online, you’re making one of the worst impressions of all - and driving patients to a competitor that caters to their wants.
In summary, patients are forming their first impression of your practice not by visiting your practice, but by Googling your practice. That means, to make a positive impression, your online presence needs to:
- Feature consistent business information on local listings.
- Cultivate positive reviews that reflect the good work you do.
- Encourage people to visit a website where patients can quickly connect with your practice.
A strong online presence and the good impression it makes is truly the engine driving practice growth today.To manage your online presence in this digital age, and to attract your future patients, you need the proper tools to create and maintain a high performing website; to conduct reputation management; to manage your business listings; and so forth.
That’s a lot of work - probably too much work for your team alone. We understand. And we want to help you overcome this time barrier so that you can make the positive impression you deserve to make online.
PracticeBeat is a cost-effective, software-powered one-stop solution providing all the tools necessary to gain more patients online. We take the time to update doctor’s websites, keeping them operating quickly and smoothly no matter what. Additionally, through our listing and reputation management services, we will ensure that your online presence is strong and positive - ensuring that it makes the impression you need it to make with every Google search.