Can Patients Find You Online? Find Out With This Simple Test

searching the haystack

The Haystack of Search Results

Use this simple test to find out if it’s easy for patients to find you when searching online for you or your practice. All you need is a browser and an internet connection!

How do patients search – and why you should care

The fastest way to discover how “findable” you are online is by putting on your patient hat and looking for yourself on Google.

This is really the first step in the mysterious process of SEO (Search Engine Optimization).

Imagine you are a patient with the following type of problem:

  • pain
  • other medical issue
  • can’t find a specific kind of doctor
  • wondering about a specific doctor
  • can’t find Dr. X’s office

The patient sits down at the computer and types in a collection of words into Google and hits Enter. Doctors or services that come up on the first page have a huge impact on where they click or explore next.

If you don’t take up that search engine result real estate on page one of Google, you’re missing out on new patients and exposure for your practice in the community.

The Practice Findability Test

OK – I couldn’t come up with a better name, but it’ll do.

Step One

Sit down at your favorite search engine (the big momma is Google, so chances are your patients search there) and type in what you think a potential patient would type in based on my list above.

You may get the most striking results if you just type in

dr firstname lastname

where firstname and lastname are… yup – your names.

Hit Enter and go on to Step Two

Step Two – read the results

Google will show you all kinds of results. Each one has meaning.

You’ll see the most relevant local results at the top, usually with a map on the right side.

You might see a “sponsored” or paid ad at the very top, even before any map results.

Google also lists organic, or non-paid results in the main column, below the sponsored ads, below the local results. These might be local or nationally-relevant links.

On the right side you’ll see a more narrow column of paid ads. The owners of those websites have paid for those links to be there.

Step Three – ask these questions

Are you anywhere to be found in the search engine results?

You may see your name or links to websites that have a reference to your name.

Do you own these websites or control the information on them?

Is the information associated with your name positive or negative or just useless?

Step Four – ponder the consequences

Knowing what you know after doing this little exercise, what goes through your mind?

Patients are seeing what you just saw. In their minds, the Internet has just defined you – for better or worse – based on those search engine results.

What impression will a searching potential patient be left with after they see those results?

Will they rush to call the office and schedule an appointment?

Will their pre-conceived notions about you be confirmed or refuted?

Will their perception of you be enhanced or knocked down a few notches?

The next step

Now that you know what pops up when patients search for you online, the next step is to begin the process of “owning” the first page of Google’s results for your name. This involves:

  • taking up spots on the first page by using multiple online channels to get yourself exposure online: YouTube, Facebook (business page), a blog, etc.
  • claiming your profiles on doctor rating sites like healthgrades,, etc. These will continue to rank highly (for better or worse), so you need to put your own accurate information on those profiles. My free guide teaches you how to do this.
  • optimizing your current website pages to get higher rankings in the search engines
  • posting relevant content (information) on your website that patients are searching for, not just what you think they want or may be searching for.
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