The image a business conveys online, particularly with their Google listing, plays a critical role in how customers perceive the business and whether or not they choose to visit. A business’s image is heavily influenced by user-generated content including reviews, comments, photos, and now, Google Questions and Answers. Anyone can post content about a business, possibly leading to brand inconsistency or a damaged reputation. Google Q&A is now one more thing to monitor, and it isn’t going away anytime soon.
What is Google Q&A?
Get to know your customers and help your customers get to know you.
Google Q&A is a simple tool that allows Google users to ask and answer questions about a business online. It is yet another way to provide customers with useful information, right in the knowledge panel of a Google My Business (GMB) listing. Potential customers are able to ask any question they want, and Google users have the opportunity to provide meaningful, or completely bogus, answers. The information that potential customers find can have a strong impact on their decision to call or visit a business.
Here’s how it works:
- Both consumers and the business owner can ask questions AND answer questions. Each individual user is only able to answer a question once
- Anyone can “like” a question or answer by clicking the thumbs up icon
- The question/answer with the most likes will show up on the front page of the GMB listing, directly in the knowledge panel (see example below)
- All other questions and answers will be shown behind the “see all questions” link, in order of how many likes they have received
- Questions and answers can’t be down voted, but they can be reported for any of the following reasons: off-topic, no longer applies, advertising or spam, hate, violent or inappropriate, or incorrect information
Why Should You Care? (Why You Need to Care!)
Avoid the risks of user-generated content.
Eighty-four percent of GMB searches are discovery searches (BrightLocal): consumers searching for product or industry categories, rather than a specific business. The majority of a business’s Google listing visitors are there unintentionally and likely have not formed an impression of the company yet. This means that consumers are now judging the business solely on the information that is visible in the knowledge panel, including Google Q&As. Consumers are using this feature more and more, proving that Q&A can have a significant impact on their decisions.
Remember how I mentioned that any Google user can answer questions on a business’s listing? Not only do users have the power to respond to questions, but Local Guides are rewarded with points for answering them, regardless of whether their answer is right, wrong, or straight up ridiculous. As you can see below, Marco is an example of someone answering questions just to earn points.
If answering questions is left up to the public, it’s likely that potential customers will be confused or lost because of absent or incorrect information. For example, if a customer asks whether a business has free wifi, someone may answer with “I don’t know” or “who cares?” when, in fact, the business has free internet and it’s a deciding factor for many customers. In the example below, there are discrepancies in the answers that are being left on the listing. If the business owner doesn’t stay on top of answering questions, someone else will - and they may not give that business the credit it deserves.
As if that wasn’t enough, Google notifies Local Guides when someone asks a question about a business they’ve visited, reviewed, or even posted a photo of. Question notification emails have just become available for business owners, but if you aren’t actively tracking your questions, the last person who reviewed your business is more up-to-date than you.
But let’s look at the bright side: aside from helping them avoid these few risks, Google Q&A can provide a lot of benefits to your clients.
What Can Google Q&A Do For Your Clients?
Amplify your image. Build a trusted brand.
Google Q&A helps businesses to:
- Create meaningful communication with current and potential customers
- Have an effortless exchange of requests, advice, and help between business owners and consumers
- Highlight a business’s most important FAQs to save time for both owners and customers
- Avoid confusing or wrong information about a business
- Capture data about customer needs and desires
- Boost rankings in search results
Get Started With Google Q&A
It's easy with Vendasta's Reputation Management.
In a nutshell, Google Q&A enables businesses and their clients to post accurate information up-front, right where potential customers make their decisions. User-generated content always carries risks, however, and there may be negative consequences if other users post pointless or incorrect information. Google Q&A isn’t going away, and business owners need to be diligent in monitoring their listings and staying informed in order to make the most of it. To learn all about Google Q&A Best Practices, check out our next blog.
Google Q&A is available in Vendasta’s Reputation Management. Be notified of new questions, fill in common FAQs, and be the first to post accurate answers to every question, all from within the product.
To get started, sign up for free and activate your first Reputation Management Express product at no charge.