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Overcoming Negative Feedback: Proactive Reputation Management

May 17, 2024
10 mins

In the era of Yelp reviews, managing your online presence became an integral part of running a practice. Reputation has always been of critical importance to healthcare providers. It is now easily visualized in the digital space and measured in ratings and reviews.

In this article, we explore how online reputation management for doctors works in 2024, and what strategies will help you handle negative patient reviews. Stay with us and learn how to turn reputational hazards into opportunities for improvement and trust-building.

Why Every Doctor Should Value Their Online Reputation

To answer this question, let’s turn to raw data.

According to recent findings by Software Advice, 90% of patients use online reviews to evaluate physicians. 71% of patients consider online reviews as their first step when searching for a new doctor, making your digital footprint often the first impression you make.

Strong doctor online reputation management can ensure the attraction of patients from outside your network to your practice. In fact, 43% of patients are willing to overlook network restrictions if they find a provider with better reviews.

As a doctor, ignoring your online reputation can be detrimental to your career. Healthcare is a delicate matter for most of us. People want to find a professional with great experience and care for their customers. A single negative comment on Reddit mentioning your name has the potential to instill doubt in someone who takes their health seriously. If negative reviews pile up without your response, it creates a poor public perception and turns people away. 

SERM for doctors

How to Manage Negative Feedback and Build a Positive Reputation

The good news is that most online feedback tends to be positive or neutral, making it easy to interact with. According to the aforementioned report, only 1% of patients leave reviews that could cause serious damage. 

Handling negative feedback effectively requires a strategic approach that not only addresses current concerns but also prevents future issues. Here is general advice on how to manage your online reputation.

Claim Your Profiles on Review Sites

Most patients trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, so it’s crucial for you to establish a presence on popular review platforms. Start by claiming or creating your business page on review websites. Here you can customize the information displayed and gain more control over your online presence. Once your profile is set up, you can respond to reviews and manage any content that may be inaccurate or offensive.

Monitor the Comments and React Quickly

Regularly check review sites and social media to see what people are saying about your practice. Make it a rule to check the reviews once a day, this way you won’t miss the opportunity to respond to a comment while the commenter’s issue is still fresh and manageable. When patients leave positive reviews, respond with a thank you to show you value their feedback.

For negative reviews, it is still important to thank them for feedback and offer a polite response. But avoid writing generic and robotic messages. Treat each negative review as your chance to show that you care for all of your customers and their experiences.

Negative reviews can be different, and they require different kinds of reply. Let’s see some basic cases:

🩺 If a patient complains about a recent visit and their issue is resolvable, try to contact them and make an effort to address their needs. For example, if their treatment was unsuccessful, suggest an alternative approach. If you are unable to reach them, leave a comment explaining that contact was attempted, but you are still open to discussing their concerns.

🩺 If they complain about administrative issues, such as long waiting times or a rude receptionist, thank them and promise to address these issues—and then make sure to follow through. The best way to prevent negative comments is to focus on improving the quality of your work and the overall service experience.

🩺 If they refer to a conflict situation and you believe the patient was at fault, politely present your perspective. Readers of comments understand that misunderstandings happen, but if you leave the comment unanswered, they will see only one side of the story and may be inclined to side with the patient.

🩺 If the comment is untrue, clearly state this fact and provide evidence to support your claim. Often, you can contact the moderators of the review site and request that they take down. Review platforms generally won't remove a review just because it's negative, but they may consider taking it down if it's shown to be false. 

Responding to reviews can be time-consuming and requires a careful, respectful tone to avoid sounding harsh. A majority of patients (66%) think it’s important for doctors to respond to online reviews, seeing it as a sign that the physician values patient feedback and is committed to improving their services. 

Ask Satisfied Patients to Leave Reviews

Encourage your patients to leave positive reviews about their experiences. For instance, your receptionists can remind satisfied patients to share their thoughts online during checkout. Since about 70% of people are likely to leave a review when asked, this approach can greatly enhance your practice's online reputation without much effort from your side. Nothing beats genuine organic reviews.

Delegate Handling Your Online Reputation

Considering the demands of managing a practice, you might find it challenging to handle online reputation tasks such as updating your website, training staff, and responding to reviews. Hiring experts skilled in maintaining an online image will save time and the headache. 

What Is Search Engine Reputation Management for Healthcare 

The general advice mentioned above should be enough for a small practice in most cases. In this section, we’ll dive deeper and discuss what to do if you Google your practice and don’t like what you see, and why it's important to earn the trust of not only prospective patients but also the algorithms. For this, we asked our SEO expert, Vladislav Trishkin, to explain how a comprehensive approach to improving one's online reputation works.

Understanding Algorithms and Assessor Impact

SERM (Search Engine Reputation Management) begins with understanding that search engines like Google do not overlook a company's reputation.

Company reputation is taken into account by algorithms. This entire process is reviewed by assessors, with the verification algorithm outlined in the assessor guidelines. This indicates that Google cares about the reputation of a company or product.

Vladislav Trishkin 
SEO Team Lead at Promodo

Search engines prioritize two main aspects:

  1. The mentions of your name or your practice’s name online, whether they are negative or positive.
  2. The reputation of the content creators.

Assessors look for two main things when evaluating E-E-A-T factors. First, they may investigate the reputation of the individual who created the content. For example, in the case of a medical article with a listed author, they will verify if the person is indeed a doctor by looking for mentions, social media presence, and other relevant information. Secondly, they check the reputation of the company or product by examining whether there are mentions and whether these mentions are positive or negative. Based on this information, we can build a strategy for working with SERM.

Vladislav Trishkin 
SEO Team Lead at Promodo

This is particularly relevant to sensitive topics such as finance and healthcare, where incorrect information can potentially cause harm. 

For moderating healthcare-related content Google came up with special criteria for content called E-E-A-T factors.  

EEAT factors

EEAT stands for Experience, Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness. These factors are crucial in the healthcare sector for several reasons:

  1. Experience: This refers to the practical knowledge gained through direct involvement in healthcare practices. In the context of healthcare websites, content that demonstrates real-world experience, such as case studies, patient testimonials, and detailed treatment descriptions, reassures visitors of the quality and reliability of the services offered.
  2. Expertise: In healthcare, expertise is essential. Content created by qualified professionals (e.g., doctors, nurses, or specialists) is valued highly by search engines and users alike. It is important that healthcare providers ensure their qualifications and credentials are clearly displayed and easy to verify.
  3. Authoritativeness: This factor relates to the credibility and recognition a website or professional holds within the healthcare industry. Authoritativeness is established through mentions by reputable institutions, recommendations from other experts in the field, and consistent publication of reliable and accurate information.
  4. Trustworthiness: Trust is a fundamental concern in healthcare. Websites must protect users' privacy, especially regarding sensitive health data. Trustworthiness is also enhanced by secure websites (HTTPS), transparent authorship, and clear, honest communication about healthcare services and outcomes.

Overall, EEAT factors help ensure that healthcare providers and their online content are deemed reliable and valuable, which is crucial in influencing both search engine rankings and patient decisions.

Besides that, the recent Google updates tightened the rules around online reputation manipulations, particularly targeting the creation and circulation of false reviews. If you decide to influence your review profiles by flooding it with false positive reviews, the algorithms are likely to penalize you for this. Not to mention that the Internet users have developed the capability to spot fake reviews too. 

It will be necessary to reduce quantity in favor of quality and engage with the audience - the authenticity of reviews is very important, especially after the recent algorithm updates.

Vladislav Trishkin
SEO Team Lead at Promodo

What do SERM Experts Do?

If a clinic’s or private practices online reputation has been damaged, the first step a reputation manager would take is gather all relevant queries someone would use to search it. They focus on terms that combine the company's name with words like "reviews" or "complaints." This can involve monitoring various platforms such as Reddit and Trustpilot, and searching for mentions in the media. This way, SERM professionals can determine where to concentrate their efforts.

After identifying the list of relevant queries and platforms, the work begins, focusing on two main tasks: addressing negative and generating positive feedback. The effectiveness and time frame depend on the initial ratio of negative to positive feedback. For example, if there are initially 10 negative comments and 3 positive ones, adding 25 positive comments will improve the ratings. This approach boils down to basic math.

Generating Positive Reviews

It’s important to note that coming up with positive reviews should not mean making up lies and trying to sell something that is not there. It comes down to highlighting and multiplying the already existing positive comments. SEO specialists would look into what’s already liked by the existing patients and focus on that. The work is complex and involves maintaining a reputation of profiles, creating prompts, copywriting, editing and SEO optimization. 

The comments should be generated responsibly and don’t look fabricated. They should only reflect the truth and highlight the good in the company. 

Vladislav Trishkin
SEO Team Lead at Promodo

High-quality, genuine reviews are more likely to influence search engine rankings positively. That’s why it is highly important to encourage your satisfied patients to leave them.

Sometimes, negative content may come from credible sources or large media outlets, making it harder to manage. In such cases, SERM experts work within comment sections or engage directly with the content providers to mitigate the impact. The aim is always to ensure that the clinic’s perspective is represented fairly.

How Promodo Can Assist Doctors with Reputation Management

Effective SERM is an ongoing process. It involves continual monitoring of the doctor’s online reputation and adjusting strategies as necessary. This includes understanding the changing dynamics of SEO and staying updated with Google's guidelines for assessors. Additionally, focusing on the company’s actual service quality and addressing legitimate complaints at the root can prevent negative reviews organically.

This is what Promodo has to offer if you entrust your reputation to us:

  • Strategic Advice and Implementation: Receive tailored strategies that fit your specific needs and help in cultivating a positive online presence.
  • Content Creation: Our skilled writers will create PR articles about your business to improve your authority on the first page of Google search.
  • Local Reputation Management: If your clinic operates in different locales, it's crucial to manage each location's reputation individually. We handle Google Maps and local queries, no matter the language.

Take the proactive step towards securing your professional image online with Promodo’s expert reputation management services. Contact us and let’s discuss how to transform your digital presence into a key asset for your practice.

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Written by
Anastasia Marchyshak

Content Marketing Manager at Promodo

Immersing myself fully in any topic I explore and my appreciation for simplicity are the driving forces behind my work.

Written by
Vladislav Trishkin

SEO Team Lead at Promodo

Vladyslav has been working as SEO Specialist for over 5 years.His portfolio of projects includes:, Sinoptik,, etc.

He is a fan of Ahrefs, enjoys reading Google's Assessor's Guide, and is always ready to have a discussion about SEO.His main specialization is promoting content and media projects, and he has numerous successful case studies.

Beneficial link on Vladyslav's expertise:




May 17, 2024
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