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Google’s New Question & Answer Feature
Natalia Zaugg, Founder
05 November 2017
Google continues to invest in improving users’ search experience. Their algorithm updates focus on achieving better quality and relevancy of search results for queries with local intent. We have already discussed Google posts for local businesses, in this article we will talk about how to optimize for Google’s Question & Answer (Q&A) feature.
What do you need to know about Google’s Q&A feature?
Google introduced this new feature in August 2017 to allow users ask and answer questions about your business. These questions and answers appear on your business’s Google Maps page. Here is an example:
Google’s new feature is definitely useful for customers who are looking for some information about your business and don’t find it on your listing or website. For businesses, it’s another channel to communicate with the current and future customers.
Like any user-generated content, Q&A feature may potentially impact your online reputation. So, it’s important for businesses to optimize for it.
How to optimize for Google’s Q&A feature?
1. Start using this feature for your business. If you have a Google My Business Listing, this feature will appear automatically, there is no opt-out. Anyone can post a question and answer it on Google. We recommend businesses to answer these questions themselves before somebody else does.
2. Preemptively ask and answer questions which might be useful for your guests. This way you help your future customers and control the information posted about you online. Don’t forget to sign in into your Google My Business account first, before posting Q&As. When you do so, Google marks such answers as the ones coming from the business owner. Examples of questions users might have: “What dishes are a must to try?” or “Is seating for large groups possible?”
3. Write detailed and high-quality answers. This will make your business look professional and trustworthy for your customers, and eventually will have a positive influence on your revenue.
Also, avoid answering the questions simply by “yes” or “no”. Users may edit their question later and your answer will stay the same. Keep in mind that the feature may get abused and give a detailed answer to the posted question.
Like any user-generated content, Google’s Q&A feature may potentially impact your online reputation.
4. Don’t post promotional or spammy content. As for online reviews, Google has content policies for Q&A. Keep your answers clean, helpful, and to the point.
You can still think of the helpful keywords for your business, for example, “children-friendly” or “vegan options”, and use them in your questions and answers. For promotional content, use Google’s posts feature.
5. Keep track of your Q&A section. If you are logged into your Google Maps app, you’ll receive push notifications whenever someone posts a question or an answer about your listing. Be quick to respond to questions and provide complete and accurate information.
If the information in earlier answers gets outdated, like in the example of Eleven Madison Park, you can just answer the question again and upvote it with a thumbs-up button so that the question is surfaced toward the top.
6. Report any inappropriate content. Since the feature is open for everyone, it’s possible that someone tries to harm your business by posting some false, abusive or simply incorrect information. You can report malicious content in your Q&As by tapping “More” next to the question or answer and choosing “Report question” or “Report answer”.
A small downside of Google’s Q&A feature is that it can potentially reduce traffic to your website: if users get all the necessary information from Google, they don’t need to click through to your site. However, we don’t see it as a big issue, since this feature was designed to provide users with more place-specific information and should be in favor of the business. Important is to stay proactive and make sure that your Q&A section is up-to-date and contains useful information.
Have you already made use of Google’s Q&A feature? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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About the Author
Natalia is a creative writer at re:spondelligent. She is passionate about helping businesses manage and respond to their customer reviews and loves sharing her industry and marketing knowledge to help brands succeed.