Key takeaways:

People are constantly looking for a nearby solution and Google Maps is one way for potential customers to discover you.

Google Business Profiles (formerly called Google My Business) are free accounts that most business owners can set up.

This allows:

  • the business to be discoverable in Google Search and in Google Maps.
  • customers to leave the business a review.
  • the business to respond to said reviews.
  • customers to navigate to the location of your business.
  • customers to find out if your business is open at the time of their search.
  • customers to call your business.
  • customers to visit your website.
  • customers to message your business.
  • customers to ask a public question and for these to be answered by anyone.

What are GBP Questions & answers?

Google Business Profile Questions & answers are questions and answers that are crowdsourced and displayed as part of the information on a Google Business Profile.What this means is that anyone with a Gmail/Google account can pose a question on any GBP profile. Answers for these questions are also crowdsourced meaning that anyone with a Gmail or Google account can answer these questions.

This is what they look like on desktop:

GBP Questions & answers are public.

So what’s the big deal?

Why should you care about this feature?

There are a number of reasons why crowdsourced questions and answers that are publicly visible on your brand asset are a bad idea.

The follow screenshot is the perfect example of two types of crowdsourced questions. The first one was asked in mid-January because cafe was closed for a long period of time. The owner did not leave a note letting regular customers know when they would reopen.

The second question, however, is more nefarious. Someone went to the trouble of asking the question so that it would show on the business’ GBP.

Let me demonstrate why Questions & answers can be dangerous:

🚩 Google does not notify GBP admins, owners or managers that someone has posed a question.

When you log into Google Business Profile Manager, there is no way to see what questions have been posted on your profile. I’ve checked as Primary owner and as a Manager – Google BPM does not tell you that there are unanswered questions.

This is what can happen:

A potential customer asked this business a question. A year later, the business owner found the answer.

Potential customers browsing your GBP may get the wrong impression that your business is slow to respond. They may begin making assumptions about your customer service.

This is not a good thing.

🚩 Incorrect information can be published by anyone.

As long as you have a Google account, you can ask a question on any Google Business Profile and answer any question that you or another person may have asked.

This is a huge 🚩

Take a look at this example I found:

In the above screenshot for a nearby McDonalds listing, someone has posted a negative comment posed as a question on the GBP. To add salt to injury, other random people have answered the question.

If you are the franchise owner or McDonalds HQ, I would hire someone to clean these up.

For smaller businesses in competitive niches, unscrupulous SEO vendors can use GBP Questions & answers to make your business less attractive to potential customers. This can hurt your bottom line and you won’t even know why.

This is why you should monitor what questions and answers are being published on your profile(s).

How to find out what questions have been asked on your GBP

At the time of writing, Google does not provide profile owners or managers access to Q&As within the admin dashboard. You will need to manually search for your brand + location, scroll down the Google Business Profile listing until you see “Questions & answers” (see below).

If you see “See all questions” – someone has posed a question on your profile and you should definitely review if the questions are appropriate.

If you see “Be the first to ask a question” – no one has posed a question on your GBP. This doesn’t mean that you’re done. You should publish questions and answer them yourself.

Can business owners ask and answer their own questions?

Business owners and their authorised agents (e.g., social media manager, freelancer, agency) can ask and answer questions on a Google Business Profile. There are no guidelines or TOS to suggest otherwise.

Someone asked this very question on Google Support and even though a GBP rep said that doing so was a conflict of interest, the issue was escalated and the Q&As were republished.

What this means for you is that you should take control of your Google Business Profile and publish questions that you know are frequently asked questions and provide useful answer to them without violating the policies detailed here.

How to answer questions that have been asked.

If you see a question that is going to be helpful for potential customers searching for your product or service, you should answer it as the business owner.

This is how you can respond to GBP questions on desktop, mobile or tablet:

  1. Make sure that you’re logged into Google with an email account that has Owner privileges to your Google Business Profile.
  2. Find your Google Business Profile by searching for your business name.
  3. Scroll down to the Questions & answers section.
  4. Click on “See all question”.
  5. Click on “Answer”.
  6. In the provided box, provide a response that is in line with Google’s policies.
  7. When you’re doing writing, click “Post”.
  8. Repeat the above steps for all relevant questions.

What to do when someone has asked an inappropriate question?

There is a report feature for every question that has been asked. You should use this to flag inappropriate questions. Doing so will trigger the follow options:

Choose a reason that makes the most sense and the question will be flagged for review. Once done, the question will be removed from your view. But when you do a search again, you will see that the question is still published.

It is unclear how long it will take for the question to be removed or if it will be removed at all. But at least Google sends an email to you to notify that your flagging has been received.

You can try asking multiple people to report an inappropriate question. This may escalate the matter.

How to remove an inappropriate answer to a valid question.

Similar to flagging an inappropriate question, you can report answers that are inappropriate, inaccurate, or are spam by clicking the three dots on the corresponding answer that you wish to remove.

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