Google Q&A Best Practices
Consumers are asking questions, is your business answering? 2 years ago, Google My Business (GMB) launched a public-facing Questions and Answers feature to the GMB Profiles and since then consumers have asked and answered millions of questions. Today, 85% of consumer interactions happen on local listings, which is why Google’s open forum question feature has grown to become one of the biggest threats to brand consistency. Don’t let uninformed consumers take control of your brand’s reputation, here are our best practices for managing Google Q&A.
How Does Google Q&A Work?
When consumers have a question about a business, they can ask that question in the Google Questions and Answers section of the business’ GMB profile. That question is not only public for any consumer to see, but it can also be answered by any consumer.
Why Answer Questions on Google Q&A?
There are many reasons to answer Google Questions but the biggest reason is to protect brand consistency. When Google users answer questions on your behalf, they can spread misinformation about your business. They can even go so far as sending your customers to the competition simply because they don’t know the answer.
We’ve seen this happen time and time again, in the image below you can see someone asked Hobby Lobby if they have craft classes. They do, but an uninformed user was unsure and sent them to Michael’s instead. Had Hobby Lobby been monitoring and answering Google Questions they could have prevented many potential customers from going to the competition.
How Do I Prevent Wrong Google Answers?
The only way to prevent people from spreading misinformation about your business is to monitor and answer the questions as the “owner”. Brands who actively monitor Google Questions can answer them before consumers do. We often see consumers stop adding answers once the “owner” of the listing responds.
By actively participating in Google Q&A, your brand will be able to better control the conversation about the business.
Best Practices For Managing Google Q&A
1. Answer all questions.
Google Q&A may be testing the saying “there are no dumb questions” but businesses still need to answer all their Google Questions (even the dumb ones). Answering every question will ensure consumers are always getting the right information. Even if a consumer answers a question correctly the business should still respond to confirm the answer is correct.
2. Don’t send people to your website for answers.
Unless you absolutely have to, try not to send people to your website for answers. Consumers are seeking immediate answers, sending them to your website is only detracting from the customer experience.
By answering questions to the fullest it also helps to prevent the same questions from being repeated. In the example below, this theater keeps sending people to their website for ticket pricing instead of answering the question directly.
3. Flag inappropriate answers.
Businesses can flag answers that violate Google’s Question and Answer policies. Flagging answers will bring it to Google’s attention in hopes of being removed. Some of these policies include:
Advertising: Don’t use Q&A for advertising. Don’t add links to other websites or phone numbers of a different place. Questions and answers should be a genuine reflection of your experience with a place.
Off-topic Q&A: Don’t post answers based on someone else’s experience, or that are not about the specific place you’re answering about. Q&A isn’t meant to be a forum for general political or social commentary or personal rants. If you would like to report a wrong location or a place closed, please use the Report a problem link to report that information instead of posting a Q&A.
Impersonation: Don’t post Q&A on behalf of others or misrepresent your identity or connection with the place you’re reviewing.
4. Proactively ask and answer questions.
Get ahead of the questions by proactively asking and answering your own questions. This will prevent people from answering questions incorrectly on your behalf and cut down on the answer clutter. There are many common questions that businesses should proactively post.
Common Questions to Ask and Answer:
- What are your business hours?
- Is your business ADA compliant?
- Is your business kid-friendly? Pet-friendly?
- Where is the best place to park?
- Pricing information about visiting your business.
- Information about the amenities of your business.
- Information about new products or services.
5. Use a tool to monitor it all.
For multi-location businesses, keeping up with all the questions at every location can be a lot to manage. Going into different GMB profiles to see and answer the various questions is time-consuming and repetitive. Thankfully, Google recently released API updates that allow tools like Chatmeter to help businesses manage Google Q&A for multiple listings all in one place.
Chatmeter users will soon be able to monitor, answer, and post questions to their Google My Business listings. This feature will be apart of our updated social suite in order to help businesses talk with their customers – not at them.
Monitoring and participating in Google Q&A is essential for any brand who wants to maintain brand consistency online. Asking and answering Google My Business questions not only builds trust with your customers but it can help improve your local rankings as well.
Ready to learn more about our Google Q&A feature? Register for our webinar, August 8th. We’ll be covering everything you need to know about our new and improved Social Suite – Now with Google Q&A!