We created this list especially for doctors and know that if you follow our advice you'll make huge strides toward dominating your local market!
What Are Directories?
Directories—also known as local listings, online listing sites, and local citations—are anywhere the name of your business is listed online. These range from industry-specific sites (like HealthGrades, listed below) to big, general listing sites such as Google Local and Yelp. A lot of these sites scrape information from one another, so I want to make sure we talk about the importance of getting every detail of each listing right before we delve into the most important directories for you as a doctor.
Why You Can’t Afford to Make Mistakes in Your Listings
As a doctor taking control of your local listings, you need to understand exactly how particular and finicky directories can be. It’s important that your business information is listed consistently across the board and that you have a keen eye for detail when working on this process. Details as minor as the formatting of your phone number, how your office hours are entered, and whether you use DPM on one site and D.P.M. on another can lead to conflicts within your local business listings and possibly cause duplicate listings.
Many doctors have made mistakes like these, and they have come to us when it begins affecting their conversion rates. It’s maddening that the listing sites are this specific…but they are, so we all need to play by their rules. I suggest keeping a note, both written and as a file on your computer, that will serve as the guide for all listing information. Share this with anyone who is going to be editing or adding listings for you.
Now that we have the basics of local listings down, let’s get down to business. First I’m going to give you information on the listing sites that we believe are worth your time (and, in some cases, money). Then we look at general business sites, and conclude with a site that applies specifically to podiatrists’ needs.
Top Six Listing Sites for All Doctors
Why this site matters: This is a review site, so patients can post their opinions for all to see. Therefore it’s a good site to check in on regularly, to see if you’ve gotten any reviews. Be sure to respond to all reviews, good and bad!
How to make the most of it: My tip is that when you’re using any site where doctors get rated, you have to be aware that reviewers are not just rating doctors; reviewers’ ratings are based on rude staff members, nurses, and aides as well. So if your front desk is rude or follow-up is bad (for example, three days waiting for results rather than one day as promised), reviewers are going to respond to that experience, not the doctor herself, no matter how good she was!
Why this site matters: Patients will use this site as both a review and a search site. It allows visitors to rate doctors as well as their staff on things such as punctuality, knowledge, and how helpful they were.
How to make the most of it: RateMDs is free to claim and recognizes multiple specialties—both good things! Also, we’ve found that patient traffic is high to the site, so it’s a good idea to go ahead and claim your listing. This is fairly simple process, but be aware that you will need some licensing information so round that up before you start.
Why this site matters: This system allows patients to schedule an appointment online without having to pick up the phone. This is a great convenience for your patients, so we encourage all doctors to act quickly to claim their listings on the site.
How to make the most of it: There is an expense for ZocDoc, so you will want to get a price quote for your location before proceeding. We have found that ZocDoc works very well for physicians who are located in more populated areas where they have a lot of competition; you’ll want to factor this in to your decision to claim your paid listing or not. What we like about this system is that it allows physicians to integrate their scheduling software (if it’s supported) with the site. Because of this, real-time scheduling is permitted, and this is an excellent way to supplement the filling your appointment books!
Why this site matters: DoctorDirectory.com is another free site. The thing that sets this site apart is that profiles are not limited to doctors; it can be used by other licensed healthcare staff as well. And as we’ve mentioned above, patients are just as likely to rate your staff as they are you, the doctor.
How to make the most of it: This directory has some very interesting extras that are available to its members. Market research opportunities in the form of surveys are offered as well as sample offers that can be available to your practice. One word of caution on this: The site is free, but not all the offers are. Be sure you read the fine print to avoid signing up in error for an offer you have to pay for.
Why this site matters: BestDoctors works as a search engine and educational site. This is especially helpful when you have a difficult diagnosis to make. Being listed as a physician in your particular specialty is more about become better know with your referring physicians and colleagues than being found by patients.
How to make the most of it: BestDoctors is accredited for continuing medical education; by serving as a reviewing physician, you can receive one hour CME credit.
Why this site matters: Medicare.gov is the official federal government website for Medicare services; it’s a great place to be listed if you have an older patient base. Being listed here will assure patients that you accept Medicare.
How to make the most of it: If you accept Medicare, then you should be automatically listed. However, this doesn’t mean you are listed correctly! It’s crucial that you are listed correctly here and that you don’t make any mistakes when entering your information. If you do it will affect you getting paid, so proceed with extreme caution when making changes.
How About Google, Bing and Yahoo! and the Others?
The list we just looked at was reserved for industry-specific listing sites—sites that we find perform well for doctors. Now I want to address general directories. These should be used by all business owners, especially given that they often reference one another to get the all-important name, address, and phone number (N.A.P.) information we discussed above.
- Google Local. There is also a social aspect to this, in the form of Google+. In fact, Google+ posts can show up in search results! So be sure that you’re using every avenue that Google provides. To learn more about how to make the best use of Google Local, read our in-depth article, “10 Easy Steps to Help You Claim Your Google Local Listing.“
- Yelp. Though much debated—read our article about Yelp to get caught up on the controversy—Yelp is still worth your time. Be sure you claim your business listing correctly by establishing a business owners account and that you engage reviewers, especially those who give positive reviews.
- Bing and Yahoo! These are no-brainer sites that you need to be listed on and listed well. Be sure to include professional-grade profile pictures and completely and accurately fill out every portion of the profile; yes, even the options fields.
- Listen360.com. This is a paid service, not free. Doctors have utilized the feature that allows you to add widgets to your website. They are a referral service as well. The site is not cheap—but it works, and we’ve had a lot of doctors have a good response from it.
- Local.com. Usually you will are already be listed here as a part of a phone service. However, it pays to check to ensure you’re listed correctly.
- InfoUSA.com. Like local.com, this is a standard database for businesses, phone directories, and new business filings. It bleeds out to hundreds of directories, so you need to make sure that all information is correct. And while it does offer a free account, it’s not the best. We’ve had much more success with paid accounts. Remember: nothing is free!
A Note on Responding to Reviews
If a bad review pops up or has been written recently, you absolutely should respond, but be careful with your language. “I’m so sorry that you had that experience and we would like to make it right. Can we contact you?” Never verify the reviewer’s experience or get into a war of words. Remember, the patient is always right (at least in his own mind), so maintain a high level of customer service and professional decorum. Responding to a bad review will show that you do not ignore your patients and work hard to address all concerns.
In our article “Your Medical Practice Got a Bad Review; Here’s the Best Way to Respond,” we go over the entire process of responding to bad reviews. We cover every possible scenario to help you handle bad reviews in the best way possible.
Specific Site for Podiatrists
All of the general sites listed above should be used by podiatrists. In addition, make sure you’re listed with your state association, local hospital directories, any surgical centers you are affiliated with, your medical school, and any university associations.
The only podiatry-specific site we recommend is:
- PodiatryNetwork.com. For $30 per year, you can add your website to this database. The primary benefit of this site is that you will gain a quality backlink. High-quality backlinks are hard to earn, so the cost may be worth it in this case. While it isn’t widely used by patients, we do think the site worth looking into.
A special thanks to Lori Hibma, Director of Virtual Marketing Director Services at Top Practices. Her insight was invaluable!
Has This List Helped You?
If our list and recommendations have helped you get control of your local listings, or if you have any other sites to recommend, please comment below. I’d love to hear about your experiences with this often tedious but rewarding process!