In August 2017 Google released a new feature on the Google maps app called Questions and Answers. This allows consumers to ask questions about a business’s services or products before visiting the location or making a purchase. The questions and answers show up on your Google Maps listing.
In order for business owners to respond to questions they must install the Google Maps app and be logged into the account associated with their Google My Business Listing. Business owners with a claimed and verified Google My Business account cannot opt out of the Q&A feature. I am not sure why you would want to opt out. It makes more sense to be in control of those features rather than leave it up to others.
A possible consequence of Googles Q & A feature is if customers can find answers to their questions in maps they might not need to visit your site.
Rather than dwelling on that possibility you’ve still got to spend the time to optimize for Google’s Q&As. The feature hasn’t been released on all devices yet. It was originally available for Android devices only. It now can be found on iOS devices as well, but still isn’t available for desktop users.
Start working on your Q&As now, and you’ll be ahead of all your competitors who wait to start using the feature.
What Does Googles Q & A Feature Change For Business?
First and foremost business’s will need to commit to monitoring and actively responding to questions posed by consumers. This is an opportunity to build a quality Q&A knowledge base that is displayed in map listings. It is not far fetched to see how those data points could possibly be shared with other Google properties associated with businesses, particularly Google My Business which already has a posting feature that allows business to post directly to the GMB knowledge graph. Leaving questions unanswered is poor optics for business and it leaves open the possibility that competitors could spam (sabotage) a map business listing Q&A.
Business owners can create their own set of questions and answers. If you need an example of how to start, review the format on Quora or Yahoo Answers. Think about the genuine questions you get from your customers. Consider questions that you think are going to benefit a potential customer.
Where To Start Optimizing Google Q&A
1. Brainstorm a list of frequently asked questions
Think about the day to day questions that customers ask you. If you have employees engage them in the process. Don’t over think this. Most of the common ones should be easy to add to a list. Keep your answers short and sweet. Don’t over complicate this (notice a theme?) Keep it simple. People don’t want to read more than a couple sentences when searching for answers.
2. Don’t post spammy questions and answers
Keep your Q&A clear of any self promotion or advertisement style stuff. Create a well written, valuable piece of content that addresses their question. Remember, you’re not just responding to the one person who asked the question. You’re responding to potentially thousands of your future customers who might buy your services or products. This should be a professional, helpful and succinctly to the point. Google has a section in their support doc about question and answer policies to follow. I suggest you review to avoid penalty.
3. Be prepared for negative answers
This is the nature of crowd sourcing. Someone is going to piss in your cheerios. Don’t over react. Take a deep breath and walk away for awhile. You want to prepare a thoughtful, respectful and honest response. No – you can’t it ignore it. It won’t magically go away. One great feature of the Q&A is the profile of those who post questions and answers are public. If you can identify the person via the profile then you have a great chance of resolving their legitimate complaint or negative answer. This is a chance to show the world what a great problem solver you can be. Yes, someone with bad intentions can create a fake profile. That can be dealt with by reporting the abusive “fake” post using the steps provided in the previously linked support document.
4. Communicate with the audience
Engage with Q&A visitors. Upvote great answers, follow people who are interested in your topics. Show that you’re genuinely interested in developing your credibility. Stop trying to sell and start focusing on leading, influencing and connecting instead.
5. Never answer a question with “yes” or “no”
It is always best to provide a thorough and complete answer to questions posted on the Q&A feature. Users who post questions are allowed to go back and edit their originally posted questions. I know, this is just asking for trouble. Don’t ask me why Google would allow that, but right now it is part of the feature set. Imagine responding to the question “Is your restaurant vegan friendly”. Your response “Yes”. They edit the question to “Is your restaurant filthy dirty”. Your answer remains “Yes”. That is a sanitary example of what could happen (pardon the pun).
Googles Q&A feature is still not available for all devices, and the full effect won’t be known for sometime. However, the best thing you can do is to be proactive about reviewing questions, providing complete answers and developing your own set of FAQ’s to add to the app.
Take the initiative to monitor your Q&A section to make sure it’s up-to-date and full of helpful information.
What do you think of Google’s Q&A feature? Share your thoughts in the comments or email me with your experience.