And if almost nothing about you exists “out there,” that fact alone provides you with a window of opportunity.
Physicians have always had to be conscious of their reputations. As high-profile citizens, doctors have endured even unwanted notoriety. Now, thanks to the Internet, whatever is out there about you and your practice is really out there. Rumors spread fast - e-rumors spread at the speed of light. Therefore, you shouldn’t ignore the idea of managing your online image. You can hire a professional to help create, manage, or repair your online reputation. A business concept that didn’t exist a few years ago, multiple services to evaluate and protect your reputation such are available for those willing to pay.
But maybe you don’t have to go that route. You can take several steps on your own toward discovering your online footprint - and influencing it. Use your favorite search engine (it doesn’t have to be “Google.com”), and follow the links.
- Names to monitor: Search on your own name, your practice name, your physician partners’ names, and any other key identifier associated with your practice.
- Content to monitor: Look into forums and blogs. Use more than one search engine, and consider setting up automatic searches with alerts to your e-mail whenever your designated search terms come up.
- Content optimization: Unless you’re really into computers, this is the point where you might give serious consideration to hiring help. “Optimization” refers to ensuring the most accurate, best information about you appears in the first few pages returned from any search engine.
- Damage control: What to do when someone says something bad about you? That depends. Usually the best idea is just to let it go—after all, responding to it may accomplish nothing more than creating more Web content for the search engines to turn up. In fact, most physicians’ biggest e-problem is having almost no information online. Experts generally agree this can be just as bad as having negative information. A good Web page can provide a good first step for making a controlled plan for your reputation.
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