One of the most underutilized tools on a Google My Business (GMB) page is the Q&A section. For all the time marketers put into choosing the right GMB category and crafting the perfect, not-too-keyword-heavy description, the Q&A gets left behind. All too often users browsing local business listings on Google see this:
When they could be seeing this:
Which business looks more interesting to you? And more specifically, if I’m an out-of-state flower buyer, which GMB page better prompts me to purchase?
At its best, the Q&A shows the breadth and depth of your offerings, adds some color to the straightforward description you’ve provided, provides real value to potential customers, decreases the time you spend on the phone answering questions, and helps an interested prospect follow through with contacting or visiting your business. But at its worst, Q&A is like walking into an unattended store and meeting an empty checkout desk, ill-informed bystanders and unhappy clients.
My colleague Niki Mosier pulled together some great info on how to get the most out of GMB Q&A and presented it at SMX East this week. If you missed her talk, you’re not out of luck! Check out her slides here, and read on! This blog post has you covered.
Let’s take a look at how to make your GMB Q&A shine.
• Seeding Your Own Q&A
• Creating Interesting Questions
• Creating Useful Answers
• Handling Problem Q&A
Yes You Can! Seed Your Own Q&A
We suspect the biggest reason Q&A remains underutilized is that business owners and marketers don’t realize it’s entirely okay for them to populate questions and answers themselves. Google has no problem showing questions and answers written by the GMB page manager. The only difference between user-generated Q&A and that from a business owner is that the answer will be indicated by the business name and “(Owner)”. The question will not be designated as asked by the owner.
Creating Interesting Questions
Think of the GMB Q&A section as an FAQ about your business. What questions are people asking about your business?
Here are a few places you can turn to for inspiration:
- Questions people ask when they call or email.
- Questions people ask on your competitors’ GMB pages.
- Get some help from Google. Search for “best your-business-category near me” on Google, and check out the “People also ask” section.
Feel free to include questions where the answers might change over time, for example about pricing or holiday hours. Business owners can always change their questions and answers, and delete their own questions and answers.
Focus on questions that will actually help your prospective customers. Don’t worry about keywords here–keywords don’t matter for ranking–but if it’s natural to include them, it won’t hurt. And since Google tends to like content that is refreshed over time, plan to seed your questions steadily over a few months.
Great Topics for GMB Questions
- “Do you have…” questions about products you carry
- Holiday hours and special event info
- Types of payment and insurance taken
- How to schedule
- Location description or parking information
Creating Interesting Answers
When you’re answering GMB questions, whether ones you’ve seeded or from the public, be succinct, clear, and complete. One strong don’t: Don’t put URLs or phone numbers into your answers. Google will filter those answers out and may not display them.
Let’s take a look at a few examples.
What’s good: Straightforward answer, includes the price for both members and non-members.
What could be better: Imagine the next step for the customer. Invite them to take that step. For example, “We take snowshoe reservations online or by phone.”
What’s good: It’s answered! Always better than no answer.
What could be better: List times this service is available, if different than opening hours. Indicate if people can just drop by or need to make an appointment.
What’s good: Not just “yes”. A helpful answer to the next question–how do I find it?
What’s good: Answered the question, and referred them to the website for more information and to transact. Also, they did not include a link to the page on their site, which if included, could prevent the answer from showing
Upvotes are helpful to getting a question or an answer to appear prominently on your GMB page. Typically a question takes three upvotes to appear, while an answer takes two upvotes. The question with the most upvotes appears at the top of all questions, and likewise with answers. Since multiple answers can show for each question, the one with the most upvotes appears as the first answer.
Once you’ve seeded your questions or provided answers to questions, it’s preferable to have someone else provide the upvotes. So grab a couple of friends who have Google logins and are in different physical locations (specifically, at different IP addresses) and ask them to upvote the questions and answers as you direct.
Ongoing Monitoring is Worth It!
Once you’ve gone to all the hard work of developing a great GMB page, with some good seed Q&A, you’ll want to keep it that way.
As the manager of the GMB page, you will get email alerts with every new question and answer submission. Keeping abreast of new questions and answers as people add them means you have the earliest opportunity to answer new questions correctly and with a good call to action. Unanswered questions on your GMB page look bad–users may wonder how responsive and attentive your customer service really is.
Handling Unflattering & Inaccurate Q&A
What if, despite your best efforts, you end up with a bad question? If you’re monitoring your GMB emails, hopefully you can answer the question in a positive way quickly. As with responding to negative reviews on sites like Yelp, your answer should be as much for the person who posed the question, as for all the other potential customers who might see the exchange.
Letting someone else answer a bad question is a formula for disaster….
…while providing some context helps future potential customers understand where you’re coming from.
And what can you do if you get an unflattering or inaccurate answer to a question?
Submit a better answer and get some friends to help you upvote it. You’ll be able to get your answer to appear higher up.
If a question is inappropriate, or an answer is downright inaccurate, you can report it using the flag icon. Google will ask for as much documentation as you can provide about why the answer is inaccurate. Reporting doesn’t always cause the question or answer to be removed, but it’s worth a try.
GMB Q&A #FTW
Q&A on GMB pages is an under-tapped resource for connecting with people who are looking for what you offer, before they become your customers–or worse, choose another company.
Give your prospects more insights into your business and draw them in to explore more with well-crafted questions and answers.
Now, if only we could use it to get Starbucks to give us what we really want….