In August of this year, Google introduced a brand new featured known as the Questions & Answers (Q&A) in the Google Maps section. This particular feature will allow you, as well as other individuals, to ask and answer questions that relate to your business.
Similar to user-generated content and customer reviews, this Google update has the potential to have a positive impact on the reputation of your business. Therefore, it is important that you begin taking an active role in the management of your questions and answers.
To make the most of this new feature, here is what you need to know right now:
What Does This Feature Mean for Your Business and Others?
This feature allows anyone to ask questions that are related to your business. These questions will then appear on your business’s Google Maps page. You can opt to answer the questions yourself, or they can be answered by other individuals. As the owner of the business, you can proactively ask and answer business-related questions that you believe may be valuable to your customers.
This Q&A feature is definitely convenient for customers. I mean, who hasn’t wanted to ask a question about a venue or business before actually visiting it?
Unfortunately, the Q&A feature means that there is just one more thing that business owners have to add to their to-do list. If you have a Google My Business listing, which you should, then you cannot opt out of Q&As. Of course, you could simply ignore them, but this is not recommended. You should choose to represent your business in a positive light whenever you possibly can rather than allowing other individuals to do it for you.
Can the Q&A feature be good for your business? It may be. Similar to customer reviews, the questions and answers have the capability of boosting your online reputation. With a variety of questions and high-quality, thorough answers on your page, there is a chance that the trustworthiness and professionalism of your business is enhanced through your customers’ eyes.
However, in terms of traffic, it remains to be seen whether there is any benefit for your business or if using the feature will simply keep you from dropping behind your competition if they’re using it.
There are a few disadvantages to Google’s Q&A feature. There is the potential for spam and abuse. No one wants spam to be associated with their business, regardless of whether it is their fault. And if your competitors decide that they want to be “mean,” they could attempt to sabotage you by planting harmful or false information on your Q&A page.
Another downside, which is a bit more subtle, is that it has the potential to reduce the traffic to your site. If customers are unable to obtain the information that they require from Google, they may not go to your website. This is simply one of those things that we will have to wait to see how it plays out.
There is good news, though. You have time to optimize for the Q&As. For many devices, this feature is not yet available. It was only available for Android devices when it was first launched back in August. It is now available for iOS devices, but it is still not available on desktops.
So, to ensure that you are one step ahead of your competitors, or at least the ones who are going to step on the brakes for this feature, get to work on your Q&As as soon as possible.
How Can You Begin Optimizing for Your Q&As?
There are seven things that you can do to begin optimizing for this feature:
Step #1: Commit to This New Task
Since you can’t opt out of or avoid this new feature from Google, you might as well make the most of it, right? After all, if you don’t get hands-on with your questions and answers, you can rest assured that someone else will. If that happens, you might not like the results.
Step #2: Develop a List of Q&As
If customers have not asked a lot of questions regarding your business as of yet, then do it first. Make up a list of questions that can prove to be valuable with a relevant and helpful answer to each. Make certain that you are signed into your business’s Google My Business account to ensure that Google marks the answers that they are from the owner of the business.
By posting the Q&As yourself, you will be establishing official answers to FAQs before others have the opportunity to post information that is potentially incorrect.
Step #3: Make Sure to Get Specific
If you have something that you want others to know about your services, products or business in general, then be sure to add it in your questions and answers. For example, if any of your food at your restaurant or café can be modified to be vegan, then mention then in your Q&As, even if it is something that is not commonly asked.
The important thing is that you make sure that everything that is posted in the Q&As is helpful and relevant.
Step #4: Step into the Customer’s Shoes
As you compose your questions and answers, make to focus on clarity and value. If you were a customer, what types of questions may you have if you had never visited your business previously? Make sure that your questions are always in English and avoid hard-to-understand technical jargon that the casual customer may not be familiar with.
Step #5: Avoid Unhelpful and/or Spammy Q&As
This one may be obvious, but it is important that you questions and answers remain helpful, professional and straightforward. This new feature from Google is designed specifically to help customers and was not designed to be a promotional tool for your business, though it does sort of act that way. Make sure you aren’t stuffing keywords into your Q&As and trying to use them as advertisements.
Step #6: Keep Track of Your Q&As
If you remain logged into your Google Maps application, you will receive a push notification each tap someone posts a question regarding your business. As soon as you have a chance, make sure you take the time to answer these questions. Don’t procrastinate answering questions or you will be giving someone else the chance to answer them. By answering questions quickly and providing helpful and complete answers, there is less of a chance of other individuals to answer the questions with less accurate and valuable information.
Google’s Q&A feature utilizes an upvoting system, which makes it that much more important for you to answer your questions as quickly as possible. The sooner you can get your answer in, the more time your answer has to collect as many upvotes as possible, which means that your answer will be more likely to be shown.
Step #7: Report Malicious Content Seen in Your Q&As
Unfortunately, you are unable to hide malicious postings, spam, or irrelevant Q&As. If you see any of this, you need to report it immediately to Google. In order to catch this type of behavior as soon as it shows up, you need to keep a close watch on your Q&As.
One way you can help prevent this type of behavior on your Q&As is to avoid answering questions with a simple “yes” or no”. It is possible for questions to be edited after they have been asked, which can make your simple “yes” or “no” look like it was said to an entirely different question. Therefore, to ensure this doesn’t happen, make sure your answers are always complete and detailed.
While it is true that this new feature is still in process, is not available on all devices yet, and its effect (positive or negative) remains to be seen, your job right now is to be proactive. You need to go ahead and start utilizing this feature to the best of your advantage by asking and answering FAQs about your business. You also need to monitor your business’s Q&A section to ensure it remains helpful, valuable and current.
For more information on this new feature and how it can help your business, contact us at WebDetail today.