Google has announced a brand new feature – Questions and Answers. This new feature is currently appearing in Google Maps, and will allow businesses to answer questions from potential customers via their Android devices.

Google Questions and Answers will be directly viewable in the business’s Google Maps listing, and will give the ability for users to “up thumb” certain questions and responses. Users and businesses will also have the ability to flag spam questions and mark questions for removal.

Businesses will also be able to provide answers to FAQs before they are asked.

Currently, businesses will need to have access to Google Maps on Android in order to receive push notifications about new questions.

What does it mean for businesses?

This new update is a great way for businesses to engage and provide more details about their services to potential customers.

A complete and continually managed Questions and Answers section will be reflective of quality customer service – and also provide a great way to increase business from those users that need a little more information before they engage with a business.

It is expected that the moderation of Questions and Answers will be the same as that of reviews on Google My Business – that is, automated spam detection and moderation.

There is the possibility that competitors may game the moderation system and ask sarcastic or ingenuine questions – and it’s not quite clear how the moderation will work at this higher level of nuance. It may be difficult to remove certain questions if moderators fail to see it breaking any of their moderation policies.

While Questions and Answers is a great opportunity for businesses to leverage search space and answer fundamental user questions – it is also another feature that businesses have to continually manage in order to see, as yet unknown, benefits.

In the future it may entail SEO benefits, but for now it will purely function as a means of direct customer engagement.

It may also keep users within the walled garden of Google, preventing them from seeing more in-depth and comprehensive content on your website.

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