Written with Charlotte Altieri
The latest update of Google Maps for Android is going to make your customer service team very busy. It features a “Questions and Answers” section that lets anyone ask a question directly on a business’s Google Maps Page. Answers to these queries will feature prominently on your listing, so here’s what you need to do to prepare for the influx of questions that could be headed your way.
This is yet another option for consumers to get precise information, sourced directly from the Local Guides – members of the public who have signed up as local guides via their Google account. As a reward for answering questions about local businesses local guides receive points, which carry rewards – once at Level 4, users get Google Play Music for free for three months. (Though to be honest, for those SEO nerds among us, it’s purely about competing with other local guides.)
The new Q&A is located between the business’s address and photos. Up until recently, this feature was only available to Android users, but recently we’ve begun seeing it on Apple products as well. If you don’t see the feature, try updating the app – and if you’re on an iPhone, ask a friend/colleague with Android to check it out for you just in case.
How the Google Maps update affects businesses
With this update, consumers can ask any number of questions to get the information they need, and they won’t need to navigate to your site or scroll through the comments section to get the answers.
In order to answer a question about a business, Local Guides must have their location tracking switched on, and the data gathered from that feature must show they have visited the business. So while many of the local guide do-gooders will know your business well enough to answer simple questions, it of course would be better to answer the questions yourself, in your own voice.
For that reason, it’s vital that businesses frequently check their Google My Business account to review customer queries – if you are an administrator, you should have the option to answer those questions directly (provided you’re also signed up as a Local Guide).
While most Local Guides will answer questions honestly and politely, it always looks better if answers to customer questions are coming from the business owner directly. This way, you not only look like you’re actively engaged with your customer base, but you also can answer the questions accurately, and provide any additional information a customer may need.
Tips for answering Q&As:
If you or one of your employees plan to regularly answer questions from the community, here are a few quick tips:
- Avoid one-word answers like “Yes” or “No” – provide context and write in full sentences.
- Be polite and courteous, even if you aren’t able to accommodate the question or request.
- Encourage individuals to get in touch for more information – and make sure your Google Maps page has plenty of opportunities for them to do so.
- Be thorough – if a customer asks “What time do you close on Sundays?” don’t respond with, “We’re open late!” Instead, say “Our kitchen is serving food until 10pm and we close at midnight.”
Will Q&As impact your search rankings?
While Google hasn’t said anything about this, our guess is that these new Q&As are eventually going to factor into search results – at least on a local level. We know already that FAQ content is typically well-suited for search. So our guess would be – yes, we do think Google will eventually be integrating the Q&As on your Google Maps/Google Business Account into search results.
For example, if you are a restaurant and someone submits the question, “Is this place dog-friendly?” If you answer the question, there’s a chance in the future that this could impact whether or not your business shows up for search queries like “Dog friendly restaurants near me.” That’s why we highly recommend answering in full sentences – when answering this question, for example, write out “Yes, we are a dog friendly restaurant!” instead of just writing, “Yes.” With the right wording, you may be positioning yourself to show up higher in search terms that could bring business in the door.