No matter your size or industry, people are using Google to ask questions about your business. Do you know who’s answering?
By leaving it up to the public, you’re risking your visibility and your credibility.
When used correctly, Google Q&A can boost trustworthiness and create a positive experience for your customers. If left up to anonymous online users, it can do the exact opposite.
What is Google Q&A
In 2017, Google Business Profile (GBP), then called Google My Business, launched its public-facing Questions and Answers feature on Google Maps. Since then, consumers have asked millions of questions on Google Q&A garnering as many answers from businesses and other online consumers alike.
That’s right. Google allows anyone to answer a Google Q&A question about any business. Though it’s great for online democracy, this open forum feature has become one of the biggest threats to brand consistency, online listing accuracy, and your overall reputation.
Take control of your online presence with our best practices for managing your company’s Google Q&A page.
How Does Google Q&A Work?
The Google Q&A functionality is simple—if a consumer has a question, they can ask it in the Google Questions and Answers section of a business’ Google Maps profile. Once posted, the question is public for any consumer to see, and can be answered by anyone.
All users, including the business’s employees, can flag inappropriate comments or like submitted questions and answers. The question with the most likes appears at the top of your profile. Sometimes, popular Q&A snippets appear on Google’s search engine results page (SERP) which is always a plus for visibility.
Here’s an example of a typical Google Q&A posting:
Pretty straightforward, at least if the answer is correct. With several San Diego-area locations, the user who responded to this question could have confused this 24 Hour Fitness location with another that lacks these amenities. Or, maybe this location is undergoing renovations causing the amenities to close temporarily.
Either way, if someone walks into the gym expecting a sauna and jacuzzi and discovers that it’s not available, they’re going to be upset—not a great customer experience.
Why Answer Questions About Your Business on Google Q&A?
You want your customers to see correct information about your business when searching for you. However, that’s not the only reason to directly answer all Google Questions.
Few things are more important than protecting your brand’s trustworthiness and reputation. When random Google users answer on your behalf, it opens the door to bad information associated directly with your business. Even if you had nothing to do with the posted answer, users might not know the difference.
Whether it’s an annoyed customer not getting jacuzzi time—or them not showing up at all because they read that you lacked a service that you do offer—it’s bad for business.
Ignoring Google Q&A can even send your customers to the competition. Again, if you’re not quick to answer, literally anyone can and likely will.
We’ve seen this happen time and time again. In the example below, a potential customer asks Hobby Lobby, a massive craft chain, if they offer in-store classes. They do! But, when Hobby Lobby failed to respond, someone else did. Not only was the answer incorrect—it led the user to Michaels, a top competitor, instead.
Ouch! Just think how easy it could have been for Hobby Lobby to avoid this mistake. By carefully monitoring and answering Google Questions, they could have prevented an unknown number of potential customers from seeing this answer and potentially heading over to the nearby competition.
By actively participating in Google Q&A, your brand will better control the conversation. Here are some expert insights on doing just that:
The 7 Best Practices For Managing Google Q&A
1. Create and Own Your Google Business Profile
To stop people from spreading misinformation about your business, and be more easily found on Google, make sure to complete your Google Business Profile account. Then, be sure you’re set up as the “owner” of the account. Random consumers often stop adding answers if they see an owner regularly responding to responses.
2. Answer Every Single Question
Even if it feels like some questions test the saying “there are no dumb questions,” businesses still need to answer all their Google Questions. If someone thinks it, others assuredly do as well.
By answering every question, customers will feel confident that they’re getting the right information. Even if a consumer does answer a question correctly before you get to it, still confirm on the thread that the answer is correct.
3. Don’t Send People to Your Website
Avoid sending people to your website for answers. Consumers choose Google for an immediate answer. It looks lazy to send them away from their preferred channel and detracts from their customer experience. Direct answers in Google Q&A also prevent the same questions from being repeated.
Look at how this theater keeps sending people to their website for ticket pricing rather than answering the question directly.
Annoying much? It also makes it more likely for users to choose another theater that provides a better customer experience by answering their questions.
4. Follow the Rules of Google Q&A. Flag Offenders!
Even if aspects of Google Q&A sound like a free-for-all, there are rules.
Your team and general online responders must follow the rules as laid out by the official Google Q&A policy.
- No Advertising: Don’t use Q&A for advertising. Don’t add links to websites or add phone numbers not directly associated with the question. It’s also not the place to discuss sales, events, etc., unless related to the posted inquiry.
- Stay On-Topic: Answers should be direct, straightforward, and reflect the first-hand experience of the topic at hand. Google Q&A isn’t a general discussion forum. Avoid any political or social commentary, personal rants, or other ongoing conversation. Users reporting issues like wrong location, closed locations, or anything that’s not a question should use the Report a Problem link instead of posting a Q&A.
- Impersonation: Don’t pretend to be a customer posting to your business’s Q&A, or misrepresent your identity or connection with the place you’re reviewing.
If any rules aren’t followed, flag the answers that violate Google’s Question and Answer policies. Flagging answers will bring it to Google’s attention in hopes of being removed.
5. Proactively Ask and Answer Questions
Don’t wait for online users to ask a question. Get ahead of the questions by proactively asking and answering your own questions.
This prevents people from answering questions incorrectly on your behalf and cuts down on the answer clutter. There are many common questions that businesses should proactively post on Google Q&A:
- What are your business hours?
- Is your business ADA compliant?
- How much do your services cost?
- What more might people want to know about your amenities?
- Do you have any COVID-related procedures or policies?
- Is your business kid-friendly? Pet-friendly?
- Where is the best place to park?
6. Support Your Local Guides
Influencer marketing isn’t just for trending social media celebrities with gigantic followings. It’s a key local SEO strategy as well. For Google Q&A, that means leaning into your area’s Local Guides.
The Local Guide program incentivizes people to interact with businesses on Google by answering questions, posting photos, submitting reviews, or checking facts. Each time a registered Local Guide completes an action, they get points. These points help them level up as a Local Guide while receiving badges that show off their clout on Google platforms.
Yes. Organizations need to interact personally with users and monitor their online profiles. However, potential customers find immense value in a reputable third-party publicly recommending a service. By supporting and upvoting their feedback, Local Guides can bolster your reputation.
7. Tools For Fast, Easy Google Q&A Responses
It’s challenging for businesses to keep up with Google Q&A profiles, and even more so for those with multiple storefronts. There’s no easy way to monitor online listings for each location while consistently reading and responding to each question. Without help, it’s a time-consuming and repetitive process, and most teams would prefer to focus that time elsewhere.
But as an increasingly important part of a company’s online visibility strategy, it can’t be ignored. Thankfully, there are fantastic tools and software available designed to assist teams in managing multiple Google Q&A listings all in one place.
At Chatmeter, we offer this solution as a part of our comprehensive social suite. Our tools empower teams to lead online conversations about their brands by easily monitoring, answering, and posting questions to their Google Business Profile listings. That way, they can proactively talk with their customers while curating a next-level client experience.
Want to take your online reputation and visibility to the next level? Reach out to us today to schedule a demo and see how our solutions can support your team’s growth.
More On Listings Solutions
Listings Management Solutions
Propel your listings up the search rankings! Accurate, optimized and engaging online listings are key to successful local SEO strategies that draw eyes towards your brand and buyers through the door. Learn more!