Initially available on Google Maps for Android only, Questions and Answers has now been rolled out more widely. The feature allows businesses to answer potential and returning customers’ queries directly.
Google’s blog post said “When looking for answers, 82% of people turn to search engines, but they often have a hard time finding accurate, up-to-date information... As a business owner, you have the most reliable answers to your customers’ questions…”
Questions and Answers gives businesses the ability to see questions from customers and answer these directly with reliable, up-to-date information, as well as to promote useful replies from other customers.
What can you do with Google Questions and Answers?
Build an FAQ database
Consumers will no doubt have common questions about your business and the Google feature gives you an opportunity to set out the answers in an accessible place. From whether you serve gluten free food to whether you provide an online ordering system, it’s an opportunity for you to address common queries.
Directly respond to consumer questions
Like social media platforms, Questions and Answers gives you a way to respond in real time. Immediate responses are now a core part of customer service and the notification system built into the feature gives you the opportunity to further enhance your current offering.
Businesses and users can both thumb up useful content to boost its ranking, and also flag inaccurate or spam contributions.
More power to Google?
Questions and Answers hasn’t been greeted only with enthusiasm. For some, it’s another way for Google to take more control through expanding its own services. The feature ties customers to Google Maps, rather than directing consumers to businesses’ own websites to gather information. So, while it can be an effective tool for capturing local traffic, it also has the potential to have a negative effect, removing some of the power from businesses. This blog post by Mike Blumenthal has a useful Q and A with issues raised so far.
Google Questions and Answers can be a powerful tool to enhance a business’ online reputation but it shouldn’t replace existing areas where you connect and communicate with customers. Instead, it should be viewed as another tool that you have at your disposal to complement your overall marketing and digital presence aims.