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When Patient Reviews Become Slander: Best practices for defeating negative reviews. Part Two: The Significance of Search and Negative Reviews

When Patient Reviews Become Slander: Best practices for defeating negative reviews.
Part Two:
The Significance of Search and Negative Reviews

Google Rankings are a result of a complex system of algorithms, artificial intelligence, and a handful of other factors. Ideally, any business wants to be on the front page of Google for search inquiries related to what they do.

While it can be helpful to know how Google works, one of the most important things for healthcare providers to understand is that there is a direct correlation between Google rank and online reputation. Reviews largely drive that online reputation.

Controlling Your Business Information

When an individual searches Google for a business or service, the answer to their question is known as a Search Engine Results Page, or SERP for short. For each entry Google displays a few things:

  • Your address, phone number, website, email, and other contact information. It also shows your location (usually linked to a map).
  • Google Reviews: These are reviews patients or customers have left through Google’s review system.
  • Reviews from other sites: Reviews from other popular healthcare review sites like,, or also show up in the entry, often as a star ranking with a number next to it indicating how many times the provider has been reviewed.

This is your information and it can be controlled. Ensure that Google has your contact information and that your phone number is accurate and your email address and website are spelled correctly and the link to them works. You can also edit your hours of operation and special hours around holidays or other events by visiting Google and making changes here.

Photo Credit: Flickr

Mobile Search

Many of your customers are searching out your business on their mobile devices or tablets. Depending on the device they are using and how they are conducting their search, the information comes from a different place.

  • Yelp provides map and review information on iPhones and Apple devices in iMaps and Safari
  • Google provides map and review information on Android phones and devices,

You should check your mobile site to make sure that information is correct as well, and that the links to your email and website function properly.

Reviews Can be Controlled

In 2016, healthcare became the most reviewed industry on the web. There are over 70 sites where patients can leave a reviews for doctors and hospitals in the United States alone. A 2016 study shows that 59% of patients use online review sites “sometimes” or “often” to evaluate healthcare providers, and 77% of those use online reviews before setting a first appointment, while 16% use them to evaluate a doctor they have already tentatively selected.

When Patients Use Reviews. Credit: Gaby Loria, Software Advice*

Many healthcare providers are suing services to own and manage their reputations. The key is using the patient review funnel.

  • If a patient has a positive experience, ask for a review.
  • If a patient has a poor experience, pre-screen what happened and gather feedback.
  • If a bad review is authentic, respond genuinely and repress its impact.
  • If a review is malicious, decide whether to dispute the review or even litigate.

This approach uses minimal effort to achieve the greatest impact when defending against negative reviews.

Your Google rank and online reputation are critical to your success. Software solutions like that offered by Empathiq can be critical to helping you manage your online reputation. Want to learn more? Download our eBook The 2017 Guide to Online Reputation Management here.

Want to read more? Download our 2017 Guide to Online Patient Review Management or Read Part One in this series. You can also receive a demo of the EMPATHIQ software from an online reputation management expert.


*Gaby Loria, Senior market researcher at medical technology consulting company Software Advice, and author of the report “How Patients Use Online Reviews”

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