SIMPLE STEPS TO PREVENT YOUR ONLINE REPUTATION
by Joy Tu
As a physician, you know that your reputation is
one of your most valuable assets. It takes years to
cultivate impeccable credentials and positive public
perception. Unfortunately, one disgruntled patient
can destroy that hard work in minutes with a few
clicks of the computer mouse. In these difficult and
challenging times, protecting your most valuable
assets becomes top-of-mind priority.
Disgruntled patients, or those posing as patients, can
easily publish content to the web - regardless of the veracity
of that content. increasingly, physicians are experiencing the
damage caused to their hard-earned reputations from these
posts, blogs and doctor rating sites.
Below you will find the tips and tools to make it easier to
track, control and manage your online reputation.
(1) Be proactive
On the internet, information flows around the world in
seconds. if you are not proactive, millions of people can
view a defamatory post before you see it for the first
time. Do not wait until you have an issue with your online
reputation, stay ahead of the game.
(2) Purchase domain names
Buy iterations of your name and practice name as domain
names. imagine a potential patient going to “your name”.
com and reading horrible statements about you posted by
a disgruntled patient or competitor. Unfortunately, this
happens more than you think. Buying iterations of your name
is a simple and inexpensive way to prevent such attacks.
if your name is common and the exact match is unavailable,
look for a combination of your name and either a location
or a professional title (example: johndoemd.com, www.
doctorjohndoe.com or johndoedallas.com). Also, check
to see if your name is available with hyphens (example:
john-doe-md.com). You can buy a .com domain for as
little as $7.95 a year from sites providers as GoDaddy
or DreamHost, cheaper if the “.com” extension is not
(3) Keep a watchful eye
Proactively monitor the internet. if you wait until someone
notifies you of a questionable online post or rating before
you begin a proactive monitoring campaign, then you are
too late. The damage is already done. Perform monthly
(minimum) checks to see if there is any information about you that could be potentially harmful. Search for your
name, practice name as well as key staff members.
(4) Act fast
if you do find something posted about you online that
could be potentially damaging, take action immediately.
whether it is a friend posting photos you do not like or an
anonymous person slandering your business, taking care
of it sooner rather than later is best. The longer it stays
on the web, the more people see it and the more damage
it can do. Certain attorneys specialize in cyber-issues and
can assist with legal redress if necessary.
(5) Your Google Reputation
Consciously create a clear and positive image of yourself
and monitor the internet for any type of commentary –
good, bad, or indifferent. Be conscientious while creating
and updating content on your practice, professional or
social websites. Ambiguous comments or statements can
be misinterpreted. Make sure that your content is clear
in today’s world, Google is more than a search engine
– it is a reputation engine. when a prospective patient,
professional partner or investor wants more information
about you, they ultimately turn to Google for information.
Some individuals, with flawed online reputations, try to
manage the situation by creating copious content to “push
down” negative information on Google. This tactic can
take many weeks – sometimes months – before your new
positive image rises up through the ranks of Google.
Do not wait until you are knee-deep in a crisis to decide
you need to take charge of your online reputation. A
proactive strategy is more effective than reactive tactics.
(6) Assume everything can get on the web
Both in your personal and professional life, what you say
online and offline can come back to haunt you. Be safe and
assume any emails, conversations, articles or photos may
eventually end up on the web.
if you are blogging, writing editorials, running a website or
just have a social media profile, be careful what you post.
what you say may cause you problems in the future. if you
do want to keep a non-practice affiliated blog or engage
on social internet message boards, create a pseudonym
for yourself so you cannot be tracked.
(7) Keep Social Networks Private & Actively Monitor
Thirty percent of online physicians in developed markets
report that they use Facebook (Medimix International
Report, July 2009)
Keep your social networking profiles private to all except
those you know and approve. This will keep casual or even
malicious viewers from seeing your personal information.
Keep in mind that the influence of connections made
on the internet can be much more impactful for high-
visibility individuals, such as physicians, than had been
Create custom RSS feeds based on keyword searches:
Feedster.com, Technorati.com, iceRocket.com, Google.
com/blogsearch, Blogpulse.com, MSn Spaces, Yahoo!
news, Google news, MSn news and PubSub. RSS
stands for “Really Simple Syndication” -- it is a format for
distributing and gathering content from sources across
the web, including newspapers, magazines, and blogs. RSS
feeds are an efficient way to monitor and track content
that affects your practice.
(8) Put Your Best & Most Accurate Foot Forward
Make sure that your online presence will not be mistaken
for someone else’s or used against you. Sign up for social
network sites, starting with the most popular like Linkedin
Complete your social network identities with valid
information and data that you want to be “known” about
you (e.g. specialty, practice information, credentials,
location). Do not forget to link to your own website(s).
while signing up & setting up your identity on these social
networks, make sure you pay special attention to the
privacy settings. Set certain features, like personal pictures
and posts, to private.
(9) Link, Link, Link…
Google sets a high ranking priority to web pages that
contain active links. This is an easy way to address the
Search engine Optimization (SeO) for yourself as an
individual or your medical practice.
Make it a priority to link your website to your social
networking identity links as well as other web pages that
you are associated with (e.g. medical societies, alumni
organizations, non-profit affiliations).
Anonymity is part of the internet. Unfortunately, anonymity
creates a willingness and boldness to criticize. when online
criticism (anonymous or not) strays over the line into libel,
questions surrounding freedom of speech arise.
Freedom of speech is a wonderful privilege, a privilege
that many abuse. it is an unfortunate fact that “freedom”
is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the world.
when many people hear that term, they think of freedom
without responsibility. True freedom carries a great deal of
responsibility – like being accountable for what you say.
Joy Tu is the Director of Marketing and Business Development
for Medical Justice and has extensive experience in interactive
advertising, media planning, public relations and marketing. For
more information, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org or online