Launched in August of 2017, Google’s Questions and Answers feature located within a business listing in local results, has incredible potential. After all Google’s mission is to ‘organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.‘ But this feature seems to be going unnoticed by local merchants and business owners.
Consumer behavior has proven that the majority of a local consumer’s actions are occurring, more and more often, directly on Google results pages. Providing the most useful information directly in search results through your local knowledge panel just makes sense.
So, ready or not, Google Q&A is here, and you can start utilizing it to answer your potential customers valuable product or service questions within your business listing – at a glance on the local knowledge panel. Here is a guide for what you should know about Google’s Local Q&A feature:
Begin Monitoring Google Questions and Answers Now
Many e-com and local business owners are missing out by ignoring or not incorporating the Google Q&A feature in their online reputation management. The potential for local, small business owners is ripe and ready for the taking.
How many times have you kicked yourself for jumping in the game too late? Well, here is your chance to be a starter. Simply incorporate monitoring the Questions and Answers feature found in your Google My Business Listing, consistently reply to your customer’s questions and you’re on your way.
The Influence of Google Questions and Answers
Small business owners and online merchants understand that creating a consistent brand story on your site gives your potential customers the confidence to call or visit your store. But, as with vital online reviews, star ratings and social media interaction, the opinions (good or bad) of existing customers in Google Questions and Answers will influence potential customers and affect your bottom line.
As a business owner you can easily answer questions posted on your Google Business Listing. Local Guides, Google’s own troop of local content contributors, will often answer questions too. The following example of Q&A interaction features both Local Guides and the business owner communicating with potential customers:
While Google’s Q&A resembles Amazon’s Questions & Answers and Yelp’s Ask the Community features, the big difference here is that anyone who believes they have an answer can reply and everyone can instantly see the results on your business listing. This also gives way for negative fake answers to legitimate questions or a competitor’s defamation. Yet another reason why you can’t afford to ignore the Google Questions and Answers feature.
Important Facts About Google Q&A
With Google’s objective being to provide users with enhanced details about your local small business, it is important to provide useful and meaningful answers to potential customer’s questions. Here are a few important facts about Google’s Q&A to keep in mind as this feature gains momentum:
- Thumbs Up Ranking Provides Instant Visibility
A Question voted as helpful by other users with a ‘thumbs up‘ moves out of the ‘see all questions‘ link for instant visibility on the local knowledge panel. The Question ranking is based on the thumbs up vote and the question with the most votes rank first to appear in your local business listing.
- False Content in Q&A Can Damage Your Online Reputation
In the world of rainbows and unicorns Google’s instantly-posted Q&A can be a good thing, but it can just as easily turn really ugly, really fast. False or offensive answers and negative or slanderous answers from cut-throat competitors can instantly damage your online reputation.
- Google’s Updated User Contributed Policy
The rules of engagement for Google’s Questions and Answers can be found in an updated user contributed content policy in Google Maps. The policy still covers photos, video, reviews and other contributed content but now applies to the Questions & Answers feature as well. User contributed content must be based on real information and experiences. Prohibited and restricted content that is in violation of the policy can be reported and remove within 12-36 hours, including:
- Fake or Spam Content
- Conflict of Interest
- Illegal Content
- Restricted Content
- Sexually Explicit Content
- Offensive Content
- Dangerous and Derogatory Content
- Report a Q&A Guideline Violation
To report a violation of Google’s Q&A guidelines simply click on the points of ellipsis (the three vertical dots) next to the question or answer in your business listing. Google’s response to a valid violation is generally quick and resolute. It is recommended to stay ahead of the game here and monitor Q&A content daily to protect your online reputation.
Why Google Q&A Matters for Local Business Owners
Google’s success and the success of online merchants and local business owners are directly related to positive online reputation via consumer feedback. With a direct correlation to sales, your capacity to win the trust and resulting business of a potential customer online is vital to your ongoing and future success.
RevMonk Can Help Keep Track of Your Online Reputation
With Google’s objective being to provide users with enhanced details about your local small business, it is important to provide useful and meaningful answers to potential customer’s questions. It’s not just content, it’s your reputation.
While there are currently no analytics for the Q&A feature in Google Insights, the online reputation management professionals at Revmonk agree that it is only a matter of time until it is. But the focus here should be about conversions instead of SEO, so helping the consumer make the decision to choose you over your competition is the main goal.