Got Questions? We’ve Got Answers! Breaking Down the Google Q&A Feature
Have you ever spent way too long online just looking for an answer to a question about a local business? Maybe you wanted to know if a restaurant would be open on Christmas Eve or if a veterinarian’s office would treat your pet cockatiel.
Well, in August 2017, Google unveiled an alternative solution to scouring the internet for an answer to these simple questions with its new feature for My Business: Q&A. So, in the spirit of this addition to Google’s plethora of tools for My Business users, we’re taking this opportunity to provide some answers your burning questions about this new feature.
Let’s get started!
Q: What is It?
As the name suggests, Google Q&A lets users ask questions about local businesses for others to answer. The Q&A section appears in the Google My Business Knowledge Panel under the business’s general information.
Now, for potential customers wondering if that restaurant has any vegan options or how much that auto garage charges for an oil change, they can avoid the dreaded phone call and type their questions right into Google for someone to answer. Questions can be upvoted or downvoted, which will affect their visibility. Simple enough, right?
Maybe not so much.
Here’s the catch. You do not have to be the owner of a business to answer a question. In fact, so-called “Local Guides,” who get special benefits for sharing their insights about businesses on Google, are awarded 3 points for each answer they provide, regardless of whether or not the information is correct. That, unfortunately, can prove tricky to navigate when it comes to the potential spread of misinformation or off-topic responses.
For this reason, it’s all the more important that you manage your Q&A section to keep it informative and error-free.
Q: Can I Opt-Out?
You can’t opt out of or turn off the Question & Answer feature. Users can (and will!) leave answers and comments without the restrictions of review, approval, or monitoring. This unfiltered instant publishing leaves room for user generated content that could be harmful to your reputation to appear with your Google business listing. This could be bad news at a time when reputation management is vital to the success of local and small businesses.
Q: How Do I Know When I Have a New Question to Answer?
Keep in mind that the Q&A feature is mainly geared at customers, rather than business owners, so, unfortunately, as of now, you do not receive a notification for new questions in the Google My Business Dashboard.
However, if you download the Google Maps app to your phone, you can enable push notifications to let you know when you have a new question. Alternatively, on either desktop or mobile, you can search your business name and manually check if there are any new questions.
Now, you may be thinking that sounds like too much of a hassle, but trust us, it’s worth it.
Q: Why Should I Bother with Google Q&A?
Simple: Because your customers are using it. You may not get a notification when someone asks a question about your business, but your customers sure do.
People who have visited or reviewed a business may get a request from Google to respond to a new question when it’s posted…even if that person reported having a negative experience.
You can see where this is going, right?
You want to stay on top of new questions as they come in, not only to provide your own answers but also to monitor how your business is being represented by other users.
Q: Can I Have Questions or Answers Removed from My Business’s Q&A?
Here’s the good news: If a question or answer violates Google’s content guidelines, it can be removed. You can report offensive, off-topic, or misleading answers by tapping the report option next to it. Thankfully, Google moves pretty quickly when it comes to removing offending content.
Q: How Can I Best Use Google Q&A to Benefit My Business?
As with most things in life, it pays to be proactive with Google Q&A.
Every step you take to engage with potential customers online sets you apart from your competitors, and that can make all the difference in a customer's purchasing decision. #MichaelsWilder #Google Click To Tweet
You, as the business owner, don’t need to wait around for someone to ask a question. You can take matters into your own hands by treating Google Q&A like your own FAQ section and adding your own questions and answers before a potential customer ever has to ask. This saves the user from the hassle of having to wait for an answer and saves you from the hassle of constantly responding to new questions.
If you decide to post your own questions to your Q&A, keep in mind that they should be:
- Free of keyword stuffing. It doesn’t help your ranking and it comes off as inauthentic.
- Short and sweet. Questions that are 110 characters or fewer (including spaces) will be shown in the Knowledge Panel in their entirety, which makes the information easier for the user to view.
- Written in the voice of the consumer. A conversational tone and simple-to-understand questions are ideal for helping the user to easily absorb information.
When you provide answers to another user’s questions, make sure to never respond with one-word answers. Why? Let me paint you a nightmare scenario. You answer “Yes,” to the question, “Does this restaurant take reservations?” Later, the user changes the question to read, “Does this restaurant have any health code violations?” Yikes.
Sure, it may seem like one more thing to manage on top of your jam-packed to-do list, but there are benefits to being proactive in managing the Q&A section of your My Business listing. Every step you take to actively engage with potential customers online sets you further apart from your competitors, and that can make all the difference when it comes time for that consumer to make a purchasing decision.
Q: Where Can I Go for Help Managing My GMB Listing?
Remember, there’s no need to go it alone.
Michaels Wilder will help you with creating a Q&A and optimizing your GMB. In fact, we can lend a helping hand with everything from branding to local listings. With proven experience in all things digital marketing, we’ll be here to handle all aspects of your digital presence and help you put your best foot forward online. To learn more about how we can aid your business, give us a call!