Since its launch in 2005, Google Maps has helped local businesses increase their visibility and sales by providing real-time opportunities to market their services. As of today, it remains the leader of mapping apps, with a total of 67% of navigation users. On top of that, statistics show that nearly 6x more people prefer this app compared to the second-leading app Waze – which nabs only 12% of users.
And truthfully, who wouldn’t?
When looking for restaurants, nightclubs, doctors, or retail stores, Google Maps provides a friendly interface where all the needed information is right there at your fingertips. You can find whatever you’re looking for without scrolling down the organic search results.
Also, I bet you own a smartphone, right? I mean, who doesn’t these days?
77% of smartphone owners claim they use their preferred navigation apps regularly. That’s a lot of people, if you ask me.
Such a staggering number has driven business owners and marketers to invest so much of their time and money on professional Google Maps marketing services.
But What is Google Maps Marketing exactly?
Google Maps marketing is the set of strategies implemented to optimize your business profile and presence on Google Maps, so it shows in the Local-3-Pack. These results appear at the top of the page whenever a person in your area searches for keywords related to your store or company.
Having your business in that top 3 guarantees more sales and conversions. Don’t believe me? Then, take a look at this.
88% of people who search for a nearby establishment on their smartphones will visit or call the place within the day.
According to Guy Sheetrit, CEO at Over the Top SEO, investing in top-notch Google Maps marketing services is paramount for your success:
“Look, I don’t think much of people who don’t invest in Google Maps marketing.” He says. “The livelihood of local businesses depends on maps to attract customers and generate sales. In truth, it makes your company or website accessible to millions of customers. What business wouldn’t want a constant stream of new or repeated customers?”
And to do so, the first step you need to take is to create, verify, and fill your Google My Business (GBM) profile. This part is crucial, and the more accurate your profile is, the greater the chances someone visits your business and acquires your services.
With GBM, you can add important information about your company such as:
- NAP (which stands for Name, Address, and Phone number),
- Business hours,
- And More.
However, today I want to talk to you about Google Questions and Answers (Q&A), an underutilized feature that every business owner should monitor.
The Role of Google Q&A on Marketing Campaigns
In August 2017, Google launched a new crowdsourced feature aimed at consumers and business owners as a part of their Google My Business account. In a nutshell, Google Q&A serves as an FAQ section that you can incorporate on Google Maps to drive conversions and gain visibility.
These questions and their answers show up in the Google Maps profile of your local business whenever a user clicks on it. The rating process works as a “thumbs up” vote system, which Google uses to determine their order of appearance.
By providing consumers more information about a store or company from primary sources, they can make more sound decisions. Why? Because they will get meaningful answers to their detailed inquiries when deciding which business to call or visit.
- “Does this restaurant offer vegetarian options?”
- “Does this hair salon cut children’s hair?”
- “Does this hardware store have a tool rental service?”
Questions like the above can help consumers in their decision-making process. With the right approach, this feature can help you start driving more people into your storefront.
Here are some other advantages that Google Questions and Answers provide to your Google Maps marketing strategy.
#1 – Increase Your Conversion Rates
I don't know about you, but whenever I’m craving for Thai or Italian, or am looking for a cozy yet vibrant bar, Google Maps becomes my best friend. I simply type “Thai restaurant near me” and I check different profiles to see their ratings, reviews, and comments. Having everything in one place makes it easier to find a trustworthy and reputable business that can take care of my needs.
And although rankings are important for local businesses, the number of conversions determine if people are buying your product and the likelihood of potential customers to arrive. For that, you need to provide clear and concise answers that respond to a person’s query as best as possible.
As a business owner, the more questions you answer, the greater the chances that people speak positively about your business, keep coming back, and send prospects your way. This cycle can improve your conversion rates and even position your local business among the local 3-pack – so clearly, we have a win-win situation here.
Even though answering all questions timely is paramount to increase your business’s visibility, sometimes this is not enough.
To tackle this problem, you need to be proactive. The easiest way is to create your own FAQs that people haven’t thought of and post them yourself. And, in case you were wondering, this practice doesn’t violate Google’s guidelines. In fact, they encourage it.
Here are some tips to design infallible questions and answers:
- Take note of the questions people usually ask you when they call your establishment.
- Monitor your social media or contact forms and pick the recurrent questions you get.
- Add questions about services your store or company provides that aren’t already mentioned in your Q&A section yet.
#2 – Stop Misinformation in Its Tracks
Naturally, users are drawn to answer questions about your business if you don’t respond quickly. These prompts can come from people who had a good experience as well as from those who didn't. And this is where the Internet becomes a scary place.
But don’t get discouraged just yet. If, for some reason, your Q&A profile on Google Maps gets flooded with false information or even negative comments, there’s still a way for you to come out on top.
Invest time (or hire a professional) to rebut those questions as soon as they emerge. Get ahead of a potential crisis and provide meaningful answers that reassure your customers or potential clients that you’re still a reputable and trustworthy business. Quickly responding to emerging questions will prevent others from posting incorrect or fake answers. Keep a close eye on Local Guides. These people sometimes spread irrelevant information about a business only to gain points in the process.
“Always maintain yourself as an authoritative source.” Points Guy Sheetrit. “Creating and maintaining relevant and up-to-date content related to your industry will undermine your competitors’ efforts or external sources’ who have nothing new to say.”
You can also flag inappropriate or offensive questions or answers that violate Google’s guidelines. Content that’s fake or off-topic is strictly prohibited by Google, as well as defamatory language and personal attacks to your brand. Violations that are reported take approximately 12 to 36 hours to disappear. That way, you can secure that your business reputation stays as clean as possible.
#3 – Build a Stronger Reputation
Everything that people are saying about your brand online can make or break your business. And for local businesses, keeping a solid reputation will exponentially drive foot traffic, sales, and revenue. Much like reviews, the Q&A section of your Google Maps profile can help you achieve that.
You need to be extremely careful here though. When used incorrectly or ignored, this Google feature can end up hurting your reputation instead.
To prevent this from happening, start by monitoring and answering all user questions that come your way. Business owners who take the time to provide helpful and informative answers show that they value their customers by listening and responding to their inquiries.
If you show an apathetic attitude, chances are that people will start talking trash about your business and tarnish your reputation in the blink of an eye. Word-of-mouth referrals will mean nothing if everyone starts associating your establishment with bad customer service.
Here, Sheetrit offers a bit more of his wisdom. “Knowing how to develop your Google My Business Questions & Answers section allows you to gain full control over your brand’s image is portrayed in search results. The more engagement you have with your audience, the more your reputation will see a substantial boost. In the end, people are more inclined to choose a local business that has its Google My Business profile filled, including detailed and explanatory answers.”
Now that you’ve seen all the advantages that Google Questions & Answers can bring to your Google Maps profile, you can start by strengthening this asset and boost your local SEO strategy. With a fully optimized GBM listing and a curated Q&A section, your business will rank in the local pack in no time.