If you’ve ever wondered what potential customers might want to know about your business, you’re about to get a pretty good idea. At least, as long as searchers start using the latest feature to roll out on Google business listings: Questions and Answers.
We’ve heard rumblings lately about a questions and answers feature showing up in Google local business results on Android. Today, Questions and Answers is live on iOS, as well, and available on Google Search and Maps on mobile devices.
What does this mean for businesses? We advise our clients of the importance of claiming and verifying their business locations with Google My Business for local SEO purposes. Once the official listing is set up, it should be regularly monitored to make timely updates and browse or respond to user reviews. The addition of Questions and Answers to Google business listings is one more reason it’s important to keep an eye on this property.
Own Your Listing
Google has long allowed the public to make suggested edits to business listings (via “Answer quick questions” on business listings), which the business can then either accept or reject through their Google My Business (GMB) dashboard.
So, along with all the benefits that come from having a local presence in search results comes the challenge of maintaining control of your listing when directories often rely on user-generated content. (Have you ever “checked in” somewhere on Facebook? Immediately after you post your check-in, Facebook asks you questions about the business in an effort to keep the business’s Facebook listing up-to-date.)
The good news? You have another avenue to connect with potential customers and know what questions people have about your business. This feature also allows the public to answer questions other searchers have asked on your listing. You could take this to mean you don’t have to worry about monitoring the questions because your devoted public will step in for you.
Or maybe you’ve already thought what I’m thinking: There’s a risk that inaccurate information could be relayed by users not affiliated with your business. There’s much to be said about customer loyalty and advocacy and the potential for your biggest fans to speak up on your behalf. However, it’s ideal for information about your business to come directly from you, especially on your official business listing. Beyond getting accurate information, people love to know a business has a human side.
Examples, Discoveries, and Assumptions
You can find more Q&A examples on Google’s Small Business blog post announcing the feature. According to the announcement, you can add FAQs to the listing, highlight other’s responses by giving them a thumbs up, and of course answer the questions as your business.
Here’s what I learned after posting a test question to BlackTruck’s GMB listing:
- Currently, there is nowhere for the business to see or respond to questions (or post FAQs) in the Google My Business dashboard on desktop. It appears Google is expecting businesses to manage their listing through the GMB mobile app, which sends push notifications when new questions are posted.
- At the time of writing this post, Google My Business had not sent an email notification for the new question that was posted.
- Public users can edit or delete their own questions, answer others’ questions, and give a thumbs up for answers they find helpful.
- The question and answer feature does not appear in desktop searches, so my question did not appear on the listing for a desktop search.
I assume businesses will be able to delete irrelevant questions and answers. This also introduces the potential for the Q&A section to bring up issues of reputation management, similar to reviews. As with handling negative reviews, it’s a better PR move to respond gracefully and proactively than ignore or delete the question, or post a defensive answer.
Though Google has been really emphasizing the mobile side of things lately, there’s probably a better chance of businesses managing their Q&A if it becomes possible for desktop. We’ll see what happens.
We’re interested in hearing about your experiences with Questions and Answers. Have you successfully added FAQs to your business listing? Had some great questions asked through your listing? Asked a question as a searcher and received an answer from a business or another user? Tweet us @blacktruckmedia to share!