Brand Me As A Health Care Leader

Julia Angwin, a Wall Street Journal reporter wanted more flattering links at the top of the list when her name was Googled. She wrote It’s a New Me (As Seen on Google) earlier this month about “search engine optimization” (SEO) and her discoveries of what it entailed.

I’m sure that most of you have Googled yourself and have reviewed your own first page of links that return. Angwin’s first link used to return a story that included an error. My first link points to my employer’s page for me, not my personal website. In fact my personal website doesn’t appear on the entire first page of links.

I guess I’m not branding myself very well–other than as a member of my hospital’s team–a brand I’m proud to wear.

That’s what SEO is all about. As a leader in health care how do you communicate your brand? Oh? You don’t have a brand? Sorry to disabuse you, but you do indeed have a brand, you’ve merely permitted others to define it and communicate it for you.

All of us in the public eye have a brand. Through most of history, physicians’ brands were purely local, based on word of mouth. Now the practitioners we work with or manage confront a plethora of evaluative on-line reporting options, all seeking to define the practitioner’s brand for the practitioner.

Those of us who are leaders in our nation’s healthcare enterprise confront our own challenges, whether seeking career opportunities or retaining and improving our credibility in an ever more complex and evolving marketplace.

As Angwin discovered, her own publications–on the web–connected, linked, to one another is the basis for web search ranking as originated by Google, but now in use to varying degrees by all search engines. Angwin learned, “I needed to focus on linking my online presences to each other — that is, my Twitter page would link to my LinkedIn page, which would link to my biography on my book-publisher’s site. These interlinkages are key to understanding Google’s page-ranking system. Google rates Web sites, in part, by how many links they have from other credible Web sites.”

Angwin is a journalist and few of us write and publish on-line with the regularity that she does, still professionally oriented networking sites such as Linkedin and active social media communities with physician bloggers such as Twitter provide an opportunity for relatively small effort to begin building your own brand on the web. Some alumni communities permit making parts or all of your entry public so that’s another possibility for adding links that will drive your ranking.

You may point out that your name is relatively common and you’ll be unlikely to get onto the first page of search engine results and that’s true. One can adopt a pseudonym and build the identity around the pseudonym with the website pointed to providing the complete identify. My friend symtym does just that.

The physician rating sites are branding physicians, CMS Compare is branding your hospital and you along with it, insurance review sites are branding your work with your employer. Unless you’re in the sunset of your career, make an effort to brand yourself.