What Business Owners Should Know About Google Questions & Answers
Google rolled out a useful feature over the last couple years that coincides with Google Maps and Google My Business listings.
Unlike Google+, this one is worth paying attention to, especially if you own a business.
Google Questions and Answers rolled out so quietly, in fact, that many users didn’t notice the update back in August of 2017.
Because of this, it has been underutilized by the masses, and there isn’t a lot of knowledge out there explaining what do to with it.
Two years later, Google Questions and Answers is still vastly underutilized, especially by business owners and brand ambassadors.
So, why aren’t more businesses paying attention to Google Questions and Answers? There could be a few reasons.
The most likely reason of all: they don’t know the feature exists.
Another reason many business owners aren’t interacting with Google Questions and Answers is because they simply don’t know how to or the best practices for handling the feature.
Let’s dive into this together and learn what the feature is and how it should be handled.
What is Google Questions & Answers?
Located just below a business’ information on the Google SERP Knowledge Graph panel, consumers can ask a question, scroll through questions, or answer a question asked by another user.
This last point can be frightening for business owners, especially for those who don’t have a strategy in place to monitor their Google Business listing.
The thought behind this from Google is that the users known as Local Guides would give knowledge-based answers to help other users.
But answering questions is not exclusive to Local Guides, anyone who is logged into their Google account can answer a question.
This brings us to how businesses should handle Google Questions and Answers.
How Businesses Can Use Google Questions & Answers
As we know, Google is a wealth of knowledge and millions of people turn to the search engine for a vast majority of life’s burning questions.
But what happens when a potential customer searches for your business, and sees people are asking questions and the answers are either wrong, or nonexistent?
Luckily for the woman in the example above, she was given an answer that was knowledge-based and offered options for her next steps.
Had she not been answered, or been given bad information, she probably would take her business elsewhere.
This makes it essential for business owners, brand ambassadors, or a team of marketers to monitor and respond to questions asked by the community — much like responding to reviews.
Responding, especially in a timely fashion, ensures the community is receiving the most accurate information as quickly as possible.
Whether it is one person who answers questions, or it’s handled by a team, it’s important to keep brand guidelines in mind to maintain consistency across every channel.
On top of this, Google has a set of guidelines to follow as well.
Google Questions & Answers Policies to Follow
Google reserves the right to remove or reject any content that violates any of the policies for questions that are asked, and the answers given.
There are quite a few stipulations, so it’s best to review them all at length.
It is most important for business owners or those responding on behalf of the business to keep the following in mind:
- Advertising: This feature is not intended for advertising purposes. Questions and answers should be a genuine reflection of experience and knowledge of a business.
- Spam: Do not include promotional or commercial content.
- Phone Numbers & Email Addresses: Google does not allow phone numbers or email addresses in questions or the answers given. Only registered Google My Business owner of a listing may post phone numbers in an answer.
- Off-Topic: Only provide answers based on your own experience, not based on the experience of others, or experiences that are not about the business. Questions and Answers are not meant to be used as a forum. Only use the “Ask Question” box to post a question, reviews or comments about the business will be removed by Google.
- Impersonation: Do not post a question or answer in a way that misrepresents your identity or connection with the business.
- Regulated Goods and Services: Do not use Questions and Answers as a service to sell or facilitate the sale of regulated goods or services.
These are only a few of the policies that have been implemented by Google for the feature.
As time goes on, it will be interesting to see if Google recognizes the need for business owners to have more control over Google Questions and Answers.
While I completely support Local Guides giving insight, and consumers asking questions, business owners have been kept out of the loop on this one and it can be harmful to their business.
If used properly, this feature from Google could be quite beneficial.
And, I get it; sometimes there isn’t enough information, or you can’t find the answer online. But what’s worrisome are the “experts” who come out of the woodwork to answer questions.
If other platforms have taught us anything, it’s that people have a lot of opinions and think they have the answer for everything.
When in reality, they usually don’t have the answer a business would give.