Together, smartphones and the internet have placed an endless amount of information literally in the hands of consumers. People have become accustomed to finding the answers to any problem at a moment's notice.
One area in which the demand for this capability becomes apparently evident is in the customer's search for local businesses. With nearly one-third of all mobile searches being related to location, it is clear that customers have started to expect an immediate answer in the moments they want to know where to go, what to do, or what to buy.
To facilitate this expectation and improve the user's search experience, Google recently added a new feature to their Google My Business platform called “Questions and Answers” (Q&A).
When people are out and about, they depend on their phones and local search to provide them with the information they need to make a quick and educated decision on which business to visit, but often times they don't have access to all of the information they need.
Google’s Questions and Answers are giving customers immediate access to local business information:
When customers plan to visit a local business, often times it can raise additional questions such as “Does this restaurant allow pets outside?” or “Does this store take credit cards”. While other recent feature releases such as Attributes have been implemented to help mitigate some of these more general questions, this information is rather basic and may not provide a detailed enough answer to your exact question.
The addition of the Questions and Answers tab gives businesses the ability to provide more detailed answers to some of the most common questions, similar to a FAQ page. As of now, both businesses and customers can only access the Q&A section from a mobile device, more specifically, only throgugh the Google Maps app.
Question and Answers May Facilitate Voice Search - Over half of U.S. teens and 41% of U.S. adults now use voice search on a daily basis. This rapidly growing trend is, in large part, due to groundbreaking improvements in the accuracy of voice recognition technology. In just 2 years word recognition errors have declined from an average of 20% down to just 8%, with Google’s software at a mere 4.9%.
Voice search is hands-free, faster and easier to use than traditional search, which makes it more convenient for those on-the-go searches that are so common in the world of local search. While we can only speculate for now, due to the rapid increase in voice search adoption, we believe the new Q&A section will give local businesses the opportunity to optimize their GMB pages for voice search - similar to the way businesses have used FAQ pages on their website - in ways that weren’t previously available to them!
Optimizing Q&A for Voice Search:
As you form your questions and answers section, you should anticipate how customers would ask questions with voice search. Rather than “Restaurants with WIFI” you can expect voice searches to look something more like: “Ok Google, where is the best Italian restaurant in downtown that also has free WIFI?”.
By utilizing more natural toned answers that include relevant long-tail and conversational type keyword phrases, businesses can flood their listing pages with content that is better optimized for voice search. Rather than using the punchy keyword phrases that are more common among regular text search, these conversational style questions and answers gives businesses the capability to add content that is similar to the way people actually talk.
Real Time Information - Besides reviews, posts and customer photos, much of your GMB listing page remains static - Until now that is!
No one is more qualified to answer a question about a business than the actual owner or manager. If a potential customer is unable to find a suitable answer to their question they can now submit a question of their own through the Google Maps app. Google will then send a push notification to authorized users/business owners who are logged into their Google Maps app with GMB credentials. From there, they can instantly post an answer to that question.
In addition to store owners and managers, previous customers and Local Guides can also post responses to questions. There can be multiple answers to one questions, with the most recent responses near the top, and giving good responses a “Thumbs Up” will then boost them to the top of the list.
This real-time access to information is changing the dynamic of local search. Along with reviews and user generated content, when properly managed, the new questions and answers feature can provide valuable insights that help build trust and drive more customers into your stores.
NOTE: Thus far, all updates mentioned in this article have only been released across Android mobile devices. As with other Google updates, it will continue to be released to more industries/operating systems over time.
When it comes to large chains with multiple locations or digital agencies assisting small chains and SMBs, managing and optimizing each locations online presence to increase visibility in the local search rankings and drive more in-store traffic can be difficult. Chatmeter’s all-in-one platform makes it easy for you to manage your online reputation and earn a top spot in the local rankings.
Schedule your free demo with Chatmeter to get a customized brand audit report and to learn how we can help you take advantage of a holistic Local SEO strategy.