5 Reasons to Include Google Q&A in Your Online Reputation Strategy
Your Google My Business (GMB) listing plays an important role in helping you present a good first impression to potential customers searching online. Over the past few years, Google has added many new features to GMB to improve the search experience. One of these changes was the addition of Google Q&A. Unfortunately, this feature has been largely ignored by local businesses. If you’re not paying attention to your Google Q&A, it can end up harming your reputation.
What is Google Q&A?
Google Q&A is feature within GMB designed to encourage consumers to ask and answer questions about local businesses. These interactions take place in the local knowledge panel. The idea is that the Google Q&A tool will help provide more timely information about a local business to assist consumers in making buying decisions. Questions and answers do show up in Google search results. And, you can like questions and answers which determines how they appear in the knowledge panel.
However, since its roll out in 2017, Google Q&A has seen low participation from businesses. Only 1 in 10 questions were being answered by business owners. Part of the reason for this is that Google added several other new features to GMB around the same time. All competing for the attention of these already-too-busy business owners. While it can be challenging, businesses should be taking advantage of all GMB features – including Google Q&A. Ignoring them puts your brand’s reputation and revenue at risk.
If you need more convincing, here are 5 reasons to include Google Q&A in your online reputation strategy.
1. Consumers are looking at the Google Q&A section
A recent study showed that 84% of GMB searches are discovery searches. These are searches where people use generic product or service search terms instead of a specific brand name. With the Google knowledge panel showing up prominently on the first page of search results, it’s easy to see how consumers would use the information posted (including Google Q&As) to assist them with their buying decisions. For businesses, having incorrect information on your GMB listing frustrates customers and will cause them to go to your competition.
2. Anyone can ask or answer questions
Customers interacting on your GMB listing is a good thing. However, ignoring this activity is not. Google Q&A is a crowdsourced feature, which means anyone can ask AND answer questions about your business. Also, Google notifies customers to answer questions. If you’ve visited, left a review for or posted a comment about a business, you might get notified to respond to their questions. While your customers might have the best intentions, you can’t count on them to post the best responses to questions. (You can ask Google to remove content that violates their guidelines.) This makes your online reputation vulnerable and is another reason why businesses should be monitoring their Google Q&A section.
3. User-generated content boosts local SEO
While it’s unknown as to what extent Google Q&As impact SEO, a recent study shows that regarding local search ranking factors the Google My Business signals category is up 32%. Business owners should not shy away from encouraging user-generated content in their Google Q&A section. Sure, every business will get the occasional person chiming in with not-on-brand-message responses. However, most readers will ignore these contributions if the business owner posts an answer. Getting consumers to post comments about your business enhances your reputation and local SEO.
4. Businesses can add their own FAQs
As mentioned, anyone can ask and answer questions. That includes business owners. A good idea is to post frequently asked questions and answers about your business in Google Q&A. By posting your own FAQs, you can ensure that the information is accurate and on brand.
Here are some tips for posting FAQs via Google Q&A:
- Keep FAQs short and to the point. Because consumers are quickly scanning search results, you should make your FAQs easy to read.
- You cannot post photos, videos, or links. But, you can include a phone number.
- Make sure that whomever is posting answers is logged-in to the owner’s GMB dashboard. This will ensure your responses have the “Owner” tag.
- Avoid answering questions with just a “Yes” or “No”. The reason is that a person could ask the question, “Are you open on Sunday?” If you respond “No”, it’s possible for someone else to later edit the question to read “Do you treat customers fairly?”
- Don’t forget to like your questions by clicking the thumbs up icon.
5. Opportunity to get ahead of the competition
With competition among local businesses tight, all possibilities to win more customers should be considered. And, since many businesses aren’t paying attention to the Google Q&A feature, here’s your opportunity to take advantage and get a leg up on the competition. If you commit to monitoring your GMB listing closely and promptly responding to customer inquiries, you will build trust with and attract more potential customers.
We should expect Google to keep releasing new features like Google Q&A that encourage visitors to engage with brands within the SERPs. While all this posting of questions and answers in your GMB local knowledge panel can be scary, this is why Google Q&A should be included in your online reputation strategy.
For businesses, your best plan of action is to get out in front of the situation. Monitor your Google Q&A and post answers to questions promptly. Also, post your own FAQs. Not participating in this critical part of your online presence is a missed marketing opportunity and can hurt your online reputation.
The good news is that ReviewIgnite’s online reputation software has a Google Q&A monitoring feature. Clients are alerted when a new question is posted and they can post answers (as well as questions) right from their dashboard.
How has your business used Google Q&A to improve your online reputation? Let us know in the comments below.
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