When Google first announced its Questions and Answers (Q&A) feature as part of Google My Business, many local marketers were skeptical. There was concern among SEOs, agencies, and even some small business owners, that the new Google Q&A section of the Knowledge Card might actually contribute to the spread of misinformation about their businesses, rather than provide the intended clarity.
Since the FAQ feature shows up directly in Google search results, this trepidation wasn’t totally unwarranted. Any time crowdsourced feedback features prominently where consumers are searching, there’s a risk that inaccurate information will surface over accurate information (Google Q&A lets users upvote both questions and answers, meaning the order in which answers appear is also crowdsourced). Of course, crowdsourced information is valuable — it gives curious consumers access to the most up-to-date, on-the-ground data. But it can also cause confusion if it overrides the data brands themselves know to be correct.
Monitor and respond to the Google Q&A questions people are asking about you.
Now that Google has launched Q&A APIs with its latest version of Google My Business, brands have less reason to fret. They also have less excuses to ignore this important new aspect of reputation management. The APIs mean businesses can create and sync pre-answered FAQs with Google Q&A, as well as monitor and answer the questions consumers are asking about their business.
The ability to easily monitor and respond to these questions is particularly crucial, as the biggest concern around this feature was that businesses couldn’t keep up with what was being posted on their listings. By syncing with the right tool, a brand will no longer need to visit each and every one of its location’s Knowledge Cards on Google to read and answer the questions consumers are asking about it.
Give the people what they want!
All searchers want is the best information possible. So Google wants to provide them with the best information possible. And it knows that, while there is great value in crowdsourced data, the most trustworthy source of information is often the business or person in question. Google has even gone so far as to create an (exclusive, invite-only) app that enables celebrities and other public figures to record and publish videos answering common questions about themselves.
Similar to celebrities (ok, not so similar to celebrities), businesses are the authority on their own offerings. And while the Google Q&A feature does not give businesses the ability to suppress inaccurate crowdsourced answers, it does provide businesses the opportunity to publish specialized information about themselves in a highly visible area of the search engine results page, and to publicly engage with high-intent consumers.
Google Q&A is one more way to provide customers with fast, meaningful answers to their questions about your brand — and to potentially influence their decision to do business with you — directly in search.
Explore more strategies in The Complete Guide to Reputation Management.