10 Things Addiction Treatment Providers Can Do to Protect Online Integrity
- Create or claim your facility’s Google My Business listing. This allows you to take charge of your center’s online local business listing and prevents others from creating or claiming it in your name. It also gives you the opportunity to verify any “suggested edits” to your Google My Business listing. Do the same with other search engines, like Bing Places.
- Run your facility’s name through search engines and explore top results. Routine searches of your organization’s name will help you keep track of where and how the name is being used. Conduct searches on a regular basis and for all locations if your center has more than one facility. Some organizations conduct searches several times a day, others several times a week.
- Confirm any information displayed about your center is accurate. Check all directories that list your facility. Click through all the hyperlinks and call each of the phone numbers listed to confirm these paths lead to the correct contact information for your center.
- Ask incorrect listings to be removed or corrected. Claim your listing or send an email to the website owner whenever possible. If your organization’s information is not corrected, report the problem to Google, Bing, or other search engine.
- Collect information and document what you find on all sites using your facility’s name without permission. Take screenshots to preserve the information you find online. Unethical and predatory marketers may frequently change websites, moving, removing, and changing information from one day to the next. Document what you find so you have the information even if the site has changed. Save copies of all emails and reports requesting corrections or removals of incorrect information about your organization.
- Apply for a trademark. A trademark typically protects brand names and logos used on goods and services. Registering a trademark may prevent others from using and misrepresenting your facility’s brand and could strengthen your legal protections against infringement. (What is trademark infringement?)
- Create alerts to receive notifications. Alerts can notify you when your organization’s name appears in new search results on Google. This will help your facility stay proactive in protecting its presence online.
- Educate and talk with your call center and outreach staff. They can be your best eyes and ears if they know what to look for.
- Ask the clinical professionals who refer patients to your organization to notify you if they see or experience anything suspicious about your facility on the internet.
- Seek legal counsel if you believe your trademark or service mark is being used without your permission. Your organization may have grounds for legal action if your trademark is registered and if other attempts to address the issues have not resulted in the changes requested.
Establishing a Google My Business listing requires proof of a physical business address and a verification process. The information provided as suggested means to protect an organization’s online integrity is in no way intended to represent legal advice.