About Google Q&A
One of Google My Business’s Most Recent Features Is Also One of Its Most Confusing
It’s been a challenge for small businesses — and even professional marketers — to stay current with the flood of new Knowledge Panel Business Profile features that Google has introduced in the last couple of years.
One of the most visible of those features, released in August of 2017, is Questions & Answers. In a nutshell, Q&A enables any Google user to ask, and any Google user to answer, any question about any business in the world. These crowdsourced questions and answers appear prominently on the Business Profile anytime that business is searched.
Because this feature was incubated by Google’s search team and not natively within Google My Business (GMB), even business owners actively engaged in their GMB dashboard haven’t had much insight into questions their customers were asking. Alerts about new Questions from Google are currently limited to the Maps app for Android.
Q&A allows Google to crowdsource information about local businesses that may not be available within the structured attributes of Google My Business, or which is not immediately obvious from a local business’s own website.
It also helps Google understand common questions that searchers might ask about a specific business or business type, which gives them an indication of what attributes they might want to ask business owners about within Google My Business in the future. If the same questions are being asked again and again, it indicates there may be a gap in the information provided in the Google My Business listing.
Many SEO experts also speculate that Q&A may be assisting Google as it builds out an inventory of Voice Search queries and answers via Google Assistant — though at the moment we don’t think Q&A impacts your rank in Google (more on that below).
In a nutshell, Q&A provides valuable information to potential new customers.
How Does Google Q&A Work?
Any time a local business shows up in a Google search result, Google presents searchers with the option to ask a question about that business.
Once posted, the question appears on that business’s Google My Business profile.
Depending on which device they’re using, Local Guides (basically, super-users of Google Maps) may receive notifications that unanswered questions exist at businesses they’ve visited or that are located near them.
Unfortunately, as we mentioned above, it’s a little harder for you as a business owner to get notifications directly through Google; though if you go all the way through the process of getting a Google My Business Grade, we’ll provide them to you in Inbox!
Google also gives searchers the option to upvote particular questions or answers. The question with the most upvotes appears most prominently on the profile, and if there are multiple answers, the one that’s liked the most is shown at the top.
Wait, anyone can ask OR answer? Seriously? Isn’t it MY business profile?
While the information you provide in Google My Business is authoritative, your business profile is still part of a Google search result. It’s a delicate balance between Google wanting you to put your best foot forward and providing as much information as searchers want to see.
Perhaps not a surprise, but we found that 91% of questions from prospective customers have yet to be answered by business owners. Conversely, 61.6% have been answered by Local Guides.
If it’s any consolation, answers left by business owners DO get a special label, which should help potential customers understand they’re authoritative.
Why else should I answer questions?
First and foremost, it’s a free marketing opportunity! Questions and answers are highly visible and make it easy for prospective customers to find out more about your business.
It’s an easy way to communicate with potential customers and a chance to win new customers. Providing a timely and detailed answer can make a great first impression—it shows the customer that you’re engaged with them.
Additionally, your responses can help cut down on inquiries you are currently receiving via phone calls, messaging, and emails. It can help you save valuable time.
Does Google Q&A help a business rank better for keywords used in those questions or answers?
At the moment, most experts seem to think not.
The reality is that we don’t know what effect, if any, Q&A has on how well you rank. As with so many Google My Business features, the best advice is to focus on your prospective customers — and not on SEO — when considering what questions to ask or how to answer them.
How do I get started with Google Q&A?
The first thing to do is answer any existing questions your customers may have left.
Simply search for your full business name and ZIP code in Google and look in your business profile on the right hand side of your screen (desktop) or top of your screen (mobile).
On your Google profile, scroll to the Questions & answers section and click or tap See all questions.
If you are not logged into Google, you will be prompted to do so. Log in using the email you use for your Google My Business account. (If you are already logged into Google, double-check to make sure you are logged in using the email you use for your Google My Business account.)
Look for questions you have not answered.
Click or tap the Answer option, and respond to the question.
Click or tap Post in the message that is shown.
Once you post your answer, you can click the up-vote option.
- If your response is not the only one, go ahead and upvote it. Google always shows the answer with the most up-votes at the top of the responses — regardless of who provided it.
- Be sure to flag any inappropriate, harmful, or incorrect questions or responses.
OK, I’ve answered all outstanding questions. What’s next?
Business owners have a great opportunity to influence the conversation by asking and answering their own questions (in fact, Google recommends this in its own marketing materials).
Think about the questions customers most commonly ask you on the phone or via email. Post the top ones and give complete but succinct answers.
If you’re stuck, you might also check out our Google Q&A Research to see the top questions customers are asking other businesses in your category.
Stay on top of new questions with ThriveHive’s free guided marketing Inbox
Businesses can assess, monitor and respond to new questions directly from their Inbox.
We also incorporate your engagement with Google Q&A in a new “Communications” section of the ThriveHive Google My Business Grader (also free).
To get started monitoring Q&A on your Business Profile, just enter your email address, sign in with your Google My Business Account, and we’ll automatically begin your monitoring and assessment.
More great resources on Google Q&A
Book a Free Guided Marketing Session
Our marketing guides work 1:1 with business owners to help them improve their online appearance, show up for local searches, and reach more customers. Click below to book a free 1-hour session at a time that works for you.