As I wrote in my April 2018 article, Google’s “Questions & Answers” feature is both the latest challenge and opportunity for dealerships. Introduced in August of 2017, “Questions & Answers” is a channel for anyone with a Google account to ask and answer questions that are posted on a dealership’s Google My Business (GMB) page. Until recently there was no formal notification system available. I’m happy to report that Google has finally started rolling out email notifications for Q&A.
What is Questions & Answers? It is a relatively new feature added to business’s GMB page, copying the popular Q&A functionality found on Amazon and Trip Advisor. As consumers ask and answer questions, these questions can appear in summary or detailed format on a dealership’s GMB page. I urge dealers to monitor their GMB page at least weekly, keeping an eye on reviews, photos, and Q&A. If a dealership does not monitor their GMB and the Q&A information, they are creating risk for their online information and reputation. Unfortunately, most dealers are not paying attention to Q&A, and the results can be very damaging. If you randomly select 4-5 dealerships and look at their Q&A, you will likely see comments, questions, misinformation, complaints, trolls, smart-aleck remarks, and so on.
Why is a dealership’s Google My Business page so important? A dealer’s GMB page is its most important secondary website and should be treated with a very high priority. Keep in mind that the number one organic search term for a dealership is their business name. Also keep in mind that 100% of the time someone performs a Google search for your business name, your GMB page appears. For desktop and table, it appears on the right side of the search results. For mobile devices, the GMB page appears immediately following paid search results. That means that if you are not monitoring your Questions & Answers, you are exposing this information to 50% or more people who are searching for you on Google. I track the percentage of organic search clicks on dealership GMB pages vs. normal organic search results, and there is a direct correlation between Google Review ratings and the percentage of shoppers clicking on the GMB website link. It is the same as when online reviews began appearing many years ago; monitor Questions & Answers the same way you monitor your online reviews, answer the questions professionally, and quickly flag inappropriate ones (see below to learn how).
The process for monitoring is now very straightforward. There is a setting in your Google My Business administrative system that allows you to receive email alerts. The default setting is to receive notifications, and here is a screen capture of where to check to make sure you are receiving notifications.
I monitor the Google My Business account for most of my dealer-customers, but I don’t seem to always receive an alert. I suspect Google is slowly rolling this out. Here is an example of an alert for a dealership I received several days ago.
You can see this alert was from someone named Deborah answering a question on the dealer’s GMB page. If Deborah is not an official employee of the dealership, this could put the dealer’s image and reputation at risk. If you look at a few Q&A sections of dealer GMB pages, you will see some outrageous comments, claims, and rants. The good news is that dealerships (and really anyone with a Google Account) have the ability to flag both questions and answers as off-topic, not applicable, spam, inappropriate, or incorrect. You can see in the above screenshot, there is a choice for “Report this Answer”. There is also a small flag-icon next to each question and answer on the GMB page, which is where you can flag either the question or the answer. Here are the choices you will see:
So far, Google has been doing a good job of removing content that has been flagged as inappropriate or irrelevant. Here is a list of Google’s guidelines for Questions & Answers, Reviews, Photos, and Videos: http://bit.ly/FlagQA. Google is also trying to get more people to ask and answer questions. For instance, they will prompt any consumer who has previously left a review for a business to answer a new question that was posed on their GMB page.
I hope you have found this information helpful. If you are an automotive retailer, I would love to help you better allocate your advertising funds with a complimentary digital marketing audit, including analyzing your paid search and social media spending. I can help you greatly improve your return on ad spend and gain more transparency with your digital marketing investments.
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