Google My Business Q&A Feature Overview

- August 28, 2017

Google has released a new feature tied to Google My Business (GMB) locations that allows users to ask questions and provide answers about a location directly within mobile search results and Google Maps. The feature does not currently appear to be accessible on desktop devices. It is available on all mobile devices from Google.com web search, and Android devices from the Google Maps app.

Additionally, the feature appears to have been launched without many safeguards in place to protect an organization from spam and/or false questions and answers. In other words, anyone can ask a question or provide an answer without the information being reviewed by the organization itself.

Google My Business Q&A Example Without Any Questions:

Screen Shot of Google My Business Q&A Without Any Questions

Google My Business Q&A Example With a Question:

Scrrenshot Google My Business Q&A With a Question

Unfortunately, Google has not integrated this feature into the GMB portal yet. This means that you cannot access this feature or any insights related to it from your GMB login. Instead, monitoring, responding, and reporting Q&A content on your GMB page must be done by manually searching for each individual location that you manage from a mobile device or emulator. This is unfortunate, as it requires a separate process for review and response than what you are likely to already have in place via your GMB dashboard.

Lastly, there does not currently appear to be an automated filter in place to help eliminate questions or answers that are clearly spam from being shown to all users. You can see an example of this by searching for “the white house” from your mobile device and reading the Q&A section. This puts organizations at a significant disadvantage, requiring them to proactively report “spammy” questions and / or answers without any automated help from Google at the moment.

Responding to Questions

Given the influence that reviews and comments can play on a consumer’s decision making process, it’s important to proactively monitor and respond to questions and answers about your locations. Without the integration of the new Q&A feature into the GMB dashboard, this requires each organization to manually respond to these questions and answers directly from search results.

Additionally, you are not able to provide a response to an existing answer. Instead, you can only provide a more ideal answer to each question that has been asked. This is unfortunate, as it leaves only one option for clarifying an incorrect response to a question, and that is to report the incorrect answer (which I’ll cover in the next section of this blog post).

In our tests, it appears that answers are currently ranked from most to least recent. So, the most recent answer is surfaced to the top, regardless of who it comes from. For example, my answer to one question was shown ahead of the answer from a “Local Guide” simply because it was more recent. However, as more data is gathered, I anticipate this ordering to be done in a more thoughtful manner (given Google’s ability to algorithmically determine search rankings in a more meaningful fashion than simply by sorting from most to least recent).

To answer questions on your GMB page(s), follow the steps below:

  1. Search for your organization from a mobile device on google.com
  2. Scroll down until map listing and business information are displayed
  3. Look for a section titled “Questions & answers”
  4. If there is more than one question, you will have to select “See all questions”
  5. Find the question that you would like to respond to, and then select “Answer”
  6. You will be presented with a box that says “Add an answer publicly”
  7. Input your answer and then select the blue arrow icon to the right of the text box to submit the answer.
  8. You will be presented with a thank you page that says “Thanks for answering”
  9. Select “Done” and mark your answer as “Helpful”
  10. If possible, alert others outside of your organization to classify your answer as helpful as well.

If you would like to edit or delete your answer, you can do so by finding your answer and then selecting the three bullet menu to the right of your answer and then selecting “Edit” or “Delete.”

Reporting Questions or Answers that Violate Google’s Terms of Service

Given that there does not appear to be an automated spam filter in place at the moment (or one that is working effectively), organizations should take a very proactive stance towards reporting questions and answers that violate Google’s terms of service. To report questions or answers, follow the steps below:

  1. Search for your organization from a mobile device on google.com
  2. Scroll down until the maps listing and business information are displayed
  3. Look for a section titled “Questions & answers”
  4. If there is more than one question, you will have to select “See all questions”
  5. Find the question that you would like to report, and then select the three bullet menu to the right hand side of the question.
  6. Select “Report”
  7. Select the most appropriate reason for why you would like to report the Question or Answer
  8. When presented with the thank you page that says “Thanks for the report.” Select “Done.”

Reporting Options for Step #7

Reporting Options for Step #7 (7. Select the most appropriate reason for why you would like to report the Question or Answer)

This Q&A feature is sure to undergo changes in the coming weeks and months, hopefully with a deeper integration into the GMB dashboard and the inclusion of a more fair moderation of questions and answers. In the meantime, we recommend that you allocate time to monitor your locations throughout the week to identify any questions and / or answers that require your attention. If you have any questions about how this may impact your organization and how we can help, don’t hesitate to email us.

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