The vast majority of doctors do not “own” the search results that pop up when patients search for them online. Most are created by doctor rating sites. There are enough doctor rating sites to fill up the first page of Google search results.
If you don’t have the time, money, or energy to create your own website, blog, or social media posts to boost your rankings in the search results, at least fill out your profiles on the rating sites that do rank highly.
Here are three items you can add to your profile to make you stand out from your (usually) boring and bland competition.
Most sites allow you to post a profile picture of yourself.
You can take a picture yourself (I've done this and I think it looks better than the one taken by a photographer hired by my practice). Or you can hire someone to take it, either in your office or in a studio.
The picture conveys a message about your approach and your personality. These should be as consistent as possible. I think it's more important just to get a reasonable-looking picture up there quickly; you can change it any time.
Remember that the vast majority of your competitors will not even have a picture on their profile pages. Patients will be more likely to choose a doctor they know something about beforehand.
Even if that something is "I've seen his picture."
Here are current guidelines for formatting your profile picture on each of the three major rating sites:
• portrait format
• image as displayed on the site = 120x160 pixels
• file type = jpeg, gif, png
• maximum size = 10 MB
• file formats accepted: jpg, gif, png
• maximum size = 5 MB
• file formats accepted: jpg, gif, png
• size = must be smaller than 1 MB
• height as displayed on the site = 165 pixels
So, an image that is less than 1 MB in size, in the jpg format, and 165x165 pixels square should fit on all three sites. Each site may crop the image slightly, so check the image’s appearance before you assume it looks OK.
Just leave a bit of extra room between the picture edge and your hair so you won’t get cropped too badly on the healthgrades site - ask me how I know this!
You want to be in front of a good background. You can either do this at the time of the photo or learn how to crop yourself out of a less ideal background and import a better one. The more uniform the background color, the better.
You can find someone on the site www.fivrr.com to change the background of the image for $5.
Online video is exploding in popularity on the Internet. There's no way to know for sure, but people searching online for trustworthy sources of information almost expect some sort of video message or content from the websites they visit.
A video "opens up" the doors of your practice and gives potential patients a sneak peek into your personality.
Don't forget that it doesn't have to be a video of you talking to the camera. You can put together a slideshow in PowerPoint with a few brief bullet points combined with your practice logo and several images of yourself, the staff, the building, and other features you want to highlight.
I’ve written previously on how to get started with online video for your practice.
Again, you may already have video content on your practice website. Be sure to use the rating site profile to direct potential visitors to that content whenever it's appropriate.
Philosophy of Practice
Each of the three most popular rating sites (Healthgrades.com, vitals.com, Avvo.com) has a section in your profile that lets you expand on your approach to patient care.
You can put almost anything you want in this section. You may already have something written down or typed out that you've thought about before.
Most patients want to know "How is this person different?" and "How will I be treated when I come to this person's office?"
Certainly you could fill up several paragraphs answering those questions.
If you have a practice with unique features, go over those things in detail in the profile and focus on what benefits those features provide for your patients.
As I hinted at earlier, you can also use a "free-form" section like this to direct patients to pre-existing promotional material on your own website. It may already be nicely polished and effective. Just use this section to send people there.
If you have published material on a Facebook Fan page or on Twitter, use this section to provide links for patients to these resources.
This is one of the untapped resources of these rating sites; spend some time composing this section of your profile. You can view this as a mini-website homepage for potential patients.