13 Actionable Tips to Optimize the New Google Questions & Answers

Tips for Optimize Google Q & A

13 Quick Tips to Optimize the New Google Q & A

The new Google Places Q & A offers a lot of potential for both helping and hurting a business. Here are some thoughts on how your business should approach this new and untried feature in the Google Local Knowledge Panel.

How will New Google Q & A Work?

Usually, A Q&A website is a website where the site creators use the images of pop culture icons to answer input from the site's visitors, usually in question/answer format; Like Quora and Yahoo Answer.

Tips - 1: Give Informative Answers

Treat New Google Q&A as an opportunity to solve a potential customer’s future problem. The better you answer, the more likely your customer will upvote your answer and this will help your get new clients and more brand awareness.

Tips - 2: Get out in front of them.

Crowd sourcing can be intimidating to the typical business but its best if you approach this, like reviews and photos, proactively. Having good Q & A’s posted will limit the opportunity for mischief.

Tips - 3: Start Now.

Write out some questions that you can post to your listing. This will give the early postings a chance to be upvoted more over time.

Tips - 4: Make sure that You really Write Frequently Asked Questions.

It's imperative that you listen to incoming phone calls and list out the actual questions that clients frequently ask before they come into the store. This will save you and them time which is one of the things that purchase funnel optimization is about. The obvious candidates here are the very real concerns about parking questions, special hours, appointments and other conveniences.

Tips - 5: Think long tail as well.

Once you have identified the low hanging fruit, brainstorm some of the less frequently asked questions (but asked) about some of your less well known services. “Does this bakery offer gluten free choices?” I am NOT saying to treat this as a keyword spamming opportunity. It isn’t but going niche can be helpful.

Tips - 6: Communicate

Engage with Q&A visitors. Upvote great answers, follow people who are interested in your topics. Show that you’re genuinely interested in developing your credibility. Stop trying to sell and start focusing on leading, influencing and connecting instead.

Tips - 7: Plan for Scanning.

Customers are a busy lot and you want to be sure that both the questions are easy to read and the answer are brief but accurate. Be brief and too the point. These need to be short answers to real questions.

Tips - 8: Write for Your Audience

A lot of businesses and marketers automatically go into sales mode when they see someone with a problem that their product can fix. But that’s not the approach you want to take. Here’s the problem with trying to immediately sell to someone who asks a question:
  1. People hate being sold to
  2. It doesn’t seem genuine
  3. You want to build a relationship first
  4. It turns you into a salesperson, not an authority/expert
Instead of shoving your products and services down their throat, come up with a well written, valuable piece of content that addresses their question. Remember, you’re not just responding to the one person who asked the question. You’re responding to potentially thousands of your future customers who might buy your services or products.

Tips - 9: Customers Voice

Write them using your customers voice. These are meant to be accessible and easy to understand, not marketing pieces.

Tips - 10: Make the Answers Useful

Make them useful to both parties, your business and the customer. Obviously the goal here to facilitate interactions between the right kind of customer and your business.

Tips - 11: Control Yourself

Control yourself and don’t over do it. Its best if there are fewer rather than more. (I am not yet sure what that means but…)

Tips - 12: Make A Plan for Disaster.

This is a crowd sourced environment after all and we all know that weird and unpleasant things can arise. Write down a plan so that in the heat of the moment you don’t do something stupid. Usually the first step is to take a breath and call a trusted advisor (to talk you off of the cliff).

Tips - 13: Monitor and Update

Monitor your Knowledge Panel for new questions. If they are legit be the first to answer. Use your Google My Business login and the answer will be noted as from the business owner. This is likely going to be a problem for multi location chains as their is no API or in dashboard notification but it is necessary. Hopefully Google will prioritize the development of tools to deal with this both proactively and at scale.

What's your tips? Please share your opinion in the comment form and Follow me at Quora and Yahoo Answer.

Google Rolling Out Questions & Answers

Google Business Listings Q&A

Google Rolling Out Questions & Answers In Google Business Listings

Google has announced and started to roll out Places Questions & Answers, a crowd sourced and business sourced Q & A product for local Knowledge Panels. Tim Capper has a great summary as well that is worth the read.

Essentially the product is designed to allow Google to offer additional FAQ type content via the Knowledge Panel that answers consumers most frequent and “long tail” questions about a Place.

The product is initially rolling out on Android Google Maps only. At some point in the near future it will be available on all mobile browsers as well.

Here is Google’s description of the product that was provided during a preview of the product:


Questions and Answers allow business owners to answer questions directly from potential customers. Merchants can also anticipate FAQ’s by adding commonly asked questions and their answers.

Merchants and other users can both thumb up content to boost its ranking and flag content that is incorrect or spam.


Users have many place-specific questions that are going unanswered right now. By allowing them to ask the business owner and each other, we can help them make decisions more quickly.

Example questions our users have about places:
  • “What dishes should I try?”
  • “What should I definitely do/see?”
  • “How much seating is there for large groups or special events?”
  • “Is there space to park a baby stroller?”
  • “What’s the lighting like inside?”
  • “Is delivery or take-out offered?”
  • “Which credit cards are accepted?”
  • “Is this a good date night restaurant?”
  • “Are service animals allowed?”
  • “Can I bring my kids here?”
  • “Where should I look for parking?”
  • “Do I need reservations for a Friday night?”
  • “Are there coupons?”
Great in concept for Google and perhaps the consumer, but the devil is for sure in the details as to whether it will be good for the business.

Google has said that moderation will be much like reviews in being mostly automated with some human curation. If the product fails the failure is likely to be in the moderation and more importantly, spam moderation details.

If antagonistic competitors figure out the moderation rules, I see it as very likely that passive aggressive negative information could easily be posted. Will staff in India be able to understand the subtlety?

And of course there is always the “lets turn everything into an ugly promotional tool” mindset that many have that could pollute the waters with incredibly spammy content.

As the product is currently designed (it feels given the very limited release and limited interfaces more like a beta,) it puts the difficult task of monitoring directly on the shoulder of the business owner. They need to continually goto their Android Maps app and check to see if the questions are meaningful and if they need to answer the question or whether the consumer answer is adequate.

Posts and Websites “felt” very business friendly. This on the other hand will feel like a poke in the eye to most businesses. Being required to regularly go back and check the crowd sourced status of a listing due to fear of the “crowd” might be off base, is one more task that appears to offer little of value to the business and will take additional (and very limited)time.

Like reviews, I don’t doubt though that effectively embraced and managed it can help a business. I am just not sure most of them will see it that way.

On a more strategic level for Google, this product is one more piece of content that will be residing within the Knowledge Panel for the business… first NAP and photos, then reviews, reviews from the web, then Posts and now “Places Q & A”.

Like Google Destinations in the travel industry, it is an effort to create ever more granular content that will keep consumers within Google’s subtly “walled garden” and further limit the likelihood of their visiting your website.

Short haul it could increase conversions, if properly handled, and that would be a good thing… until the gate keeper starts charging more for the privilege or sends the traffic elsewhere.

Here is a FAQ with details that we know about Places Q & A (assembled with the help of the many TCs in Google’s My Business Forum).

Q: Places? That sounds like back to future.
A: It is. Branding has never been Google’s strong point.

Q: Will the product be used for “ranking”?
A: Who knows. Google loves data and they love good data even more. If it is good data, I could imagine that it might some day.

Q: Will the data be good?
A: Your guess is as good as mine.

Q: Who can participate in the launch?
A: This is a Global launch to all Android Users on Google Maps – so there aren’t any testers. Business owners and consumers are targeted for asking and answering.

Q: Is it visible in the GMB dashboard?
A: No, not yet.

Q: Are there any active notifications to the business owner?
A: Yes merchants get notifications through the Android Maps app.

Q: Do you get email notifications if you have a new question and do they go to owners AND managers AND Comms managers?
A: Owners and managers will get push notifications from Google Maps on Android if a question is asked or answered by a user.

Q: Is it visible on desktop browsers?
A: No

Q: Is it visible to iPhone users
A: No, only Android users on the Maps App (for now)

Q: Is there moderation of any kind?
A: Yes. Google will moderate some things automatically (bad words, gibberish), and users will also have the ability to flag. It will be a similar process as the photos/reviews flagging.

Q: Will the moderations work?
 A: If it is like reviews and photos…. it will be opaque and frustrating to business owners but time will tell.

Q: Will the merchant receive any notifications as to the resolution of a spam or flagging report?
A: The review process is similar to photos/reviews. I.E no.

Q: Can a user delete question?
A: Merchant can’t delete a question from another user, they can flag it though.

Q: Can a user delete their own question?
A: I am not sure. I think so.

Q: What if there are competing/different answers?
A: Since the business would be logged into the GMB account when they reply, Google will display messaging that lets people know it’s the owner/business replying.

Q: How does Google determine the “best” answer?
A: We don’t really know. However like on Quora, there is an upvoting option and Google loves data…. if you test it let me know.

Q: Where and how will this display?
A: It shows up within the listing on the maps app for Android users

Q: Will it show in organic search on the desktop?

Q: Is there a limit to the number of questions and or answers?
A: There are no limit to the FAQ’s

Q: When will this be available to the iPhone Google App?
A: That’s not known at this point

Q: What are the rules on taking down a question?
A: Guidelines match reviews pretty closely — for factual questions, Google can take things down that are flagged as incorrect. The rules around spam and abuse are similar to reviews.

Q: Can businesses opt-out?
A: No. Don’t be naive.

Q: Can links be embedded in a question or answer?
A: No, no links allowed.

Q: How does Q & A affect ranking?
A: It doesn’t affect ranking. But Google loves data….

Q: Are you able to post or answer questions via the API?
A: Not currently.

Q: We have hundreds of businesses, how can we post common questions to all of our location listings?
A: Brute force, one at a time

Q: We have hundreds of locations how can we monitor questions.
A: Buy your staff Androids and man the bunkers. If you are lucky, since it is initially limited to Android Maps, there will be few.

Q: What’s to stop merchants from asking their own questions and then have their employees vote up the answers to the top
A: They could do that – nothing to stop them, though it would probably be better if they replied from the GMB account so that it would identify the response as one from the business owner.

Q: Are all business listings eligible for Q & A?
A: Any reviewable place will allow for Q&A.

Q: Will Google use these questions to add to attributes, add answers to Home etc?
A: It is not known at this time but Google loves data….

Q: How about age restricted businesses, Hospitals, financial etc. Will they have Q & A?
A: Any reviewable place will allow for Q&A – a very small number of businesses don’t support questions and answers.

Q: Can you see the Q&As on all platforms and only add new Q&As on Android Mobile?
A: You can only see Q&A on the platforms that you can add Q&A on. So at launch, they will only be visible on Android Google Maps.

How to Add Your “Under Construction” Business to Google Maps

Add Your Under Construction Business to Google Maps

Guide to Add Your “Under Construction” Business to Google Maps

Google is quite explicit in their guidelines that you can’t verify a listing via Google My Business prior to it opening. Apparently though, there is a new option within Google Maps Android to add a business under construction and indicate the date in the future that it will be open.

Here is the relevant “rule” from the guidelines that clearly prohibits a business from attempting to verify a business before it is open:

Ineligible businesses

The following businesses aren’t eligible for a business listing:
  • Businesses that are under construction or that have not yet opened to the public.
While the Add a Place feature in Google Maps doesn’t offer as much control as the Google My Business dashboard verification, it does offer a way to be sure that your soon to open business is visible on day one. Whether this feature will be rolled out to the desktop, iPhone or the Dashboard is not clear.

Google My Business Expands Optional URLS for Appointments, Reservations & Ordering Ahead

GMB URL Options

Google Expands Optional URLS for Appointments, Reservations & Ordering Ahead for GMB

Joel Headley of PatientPop pointed out on Twitter that Google had added the ability to add a “make an appointment” URL to physician listings and other verticals, It appears that they have expanded these in various verticals and not just physicians as well as adding vertical specific options.

Professionals such as lawyers, doctors, insurance agencies, consulting firm & psychologists as well as construction, computer repair, flooring and plumbing companied have the ability to add the make an appointment URL. I am sure that many other categories do as well. The only listing where I didn’t see an option was a bricks and mortar lawn and garden location.

Restaurants are also now allowed to add both a reservation and an order ahead URL to their listings.

Update 4/10: Google has published an updated Help page: Local Business URLS. On it they note that there are the following types of URLS available:
  • Booking an appointment
  • Placing an order
  • Reserving a table
  • Searching for items
  • Viewing the menu
They also note that
In some cases, links to certain third-party booking services will appear automatically on business listings. These links cannot be edited in Google My Business.

I have not seen the searching for items option, if you have I would like to know what the context was. It also isn’t clear to me if the business already has a 3rd party booking service link whether they can add their own book an appointment link and whether they will co-exist or not. Please let me know.

13 Ways to Use Internal Links to Improve Organic Rankings

Internal Linking Example

What is an Internal Link?

Internal links are links between pages on the same site. For example, a link from your site home page to service page or links from your site product page to similar product pages.

In short, internal links are links within the site and not pointing outside of the domain.

An internal link is a type of hyperlink on a webpage to another page or resource, such as an image or document, on the same website or domain. Hyperlinks are considered either "external" or "internal" depending on their target or destination. Generally, a link to a page outside the same domain or website is considered external, whereas one that points at another section of the same webpage or to another page of the same website or domain is considered internal.

Unlike other SEO factors, internal link has double effect on a website. Firstly, it influences user engagement metrics, including time spent on website, page views per session, and conversion rate. And secondly, internal link has significant ranking importance that can boost any site organic position in the SERPs.

Importance of Internal Linking

In SEO and Technical Side, Internal linking has four main purposes:
  1. In website navigation, internal link help user find more pages in the site.
  2. Internal Link Help Defines the Website Architecture and Hierarchy.
  3. Internal Link Pass Page Authority and Ranking Power Throughout the Site.
  4. Internal Link help search engine spider discover more pages on a site.

13 Ways to use internal links to improve your site rankings

1. Create Lots of Content.

In order to create internal links, you have to have lots of pages and posts. The first step is maintain a internal linking strategy is to have a killer content marketing strategy. You can’t have one without the other.

When you create lots of content, you’ll have lots of content for Internal Linking. The more links to Pages and Posts, the better your internal linking strategy will be.

Some internal linking strategies propose extremely complex layers of pages, silos of content, and a mathematically-balanced formula for number of links to levels of pages. I say it doesn’t really matter. Internal linking doesn’t require organizational spreadsheets and trigonometric derivative charts.

An internal linking strategy with lots of content looks less like an org chart, and more like this:
There are no “cycles.” There are no “silos.” There are no “tiers.” There are no structured flow diagrams. There’s just plenty of happy links going to helpful places.

2. Use Relevant keywords in the anchor text.

In keeping with the your website content theme, your internal links should only use anchor text - not images or any other media files. Image links are fine, provided that images are not the main source of links, and assuming the image is properly alt-tagged.

The use of anchor text for internal linking might not look natural. So, don’t use optimized anchors. Just use natural, un-optimized sentence fragments as anchor text, and you’ll do just fine. No cute tricks. No overthinking it. Just highlight the text, link it, and done.

3. Link deep.

The deeper your links go, the better. There are two types of internal links you should avoid:
  • Homepage. Most sites have too many links to the homepage as it is. You would rather strengthen internal pages to boost the overall SEO of your site, rather than simply point more links at the homepage.
  • Contact us. This is a common mistake of many who are starting out in content marketing. As part of their obligatory call to action at the end of a post, they may write something like, “Give us a call to find out more about our awesome services!” Then, they link to the “contact us” page using the anchor “give us a call.” Don’t link to the contact us page unless absolutely necessary.

In Essence, you should avoid links to the top level pages on a site — pages to which the main navigation menu already has links.

The Best links and the most natural links in a content marketing strategy are deep within the structure of a site.

4. Use links that are natural for the reader.

Internal linking requires a user-focused approach to adding value and information. The link value that gets distributed throughout the site is secondary to this key point providing value to the site visitor.

One of the corollary benefits of internal linking is that it improves user engagement on your site. When a user sees an informative link that truly matches the context of the content, they are likely to click on that link. It can be an external link, as long as it’s something that the reader will be interested in. If that link is an internal one, the site visitor stays longer and becomes more involved in your website experience.

When you link in your content you’re telling the search engine that the target of your link is so relevant and important that you want your visitor to simply be able to click a link and go straight there. Basically, that what you’re linking to is potentially so relevant that the visitor may want to stop what they’re reading and go to the next page.

Content links are a strong signal to both the search engine and the user that the content you’re linking to is really good. Readers want that. Thus, internal linking is helping the reader. But you’re also helping your SEO.

5. Create Only When Relevant.

Internal linking, as I’ve made clear, is less rigorous and scientific than some might think. But you still have to be intentional. Don’t merely link for the sake of linking. Instead, link to content that is relevant to the source context.

In other words, let’s say I have a page on my site about dog food. And, I have a page on my site about the nesting habits of parakeets.

Should I link the two pages?

There is not a strong connection between dog food and parakeet nests, especially on a superficial level. These two pages probably won’t provide mutual enhancement from internal cross-linking.

But, if I have a page on parakeet food, then it might make a great internal link for my parakeet nest article. Chances are, information about “parakeets” is going to be on both of the pages. Because of this content overlap, the link is relevant.

As much as possible, link to relevant content in your internal linking.

6. Use do-follow links.

Do-Follow links are the best way to build out the internal link architecture of your content marketing.

One theoretical internal linking strategy of the past was to no-follow most of the links on a page, in order to increase the link juice to a single page. This type of pagerank sculpting doesn’t work as an SEO strategy.

Back in 2005, the search engines came up with the no-follow, known by the attribute rel=nofollow. The idea behind no-follow was that the link “should not influence the link target’s ranking in the search engine’s index.” As Wikipedia stated, such links would “reduce the effectiveness of certain types of internet advertising because their search algorithm depends heavily on the number of links to a website.

Despite the uproar and confusion in the wake of the no-follow link, most people now agree that it’s a good idea. As Danny Sullivan explained, no-follow links can help sites “avoid problems with search engines believing they are selling influence or are somehow involved in schemes deemed as unacceptable SEO practices.

In spite of its value, however, using no-follow links is not a strategy you should be using as part of your internal content links. The link value needs to flow freely to and from internal pages, rather than get stopped up by a no-follow. Keep things free and fluid.

7. Use a reasonable number of internal links.

You don’t need tons of links in your internal content. Google’s instructions are simple: “Keep the links on a given page to a reasonable number.

What the Heck is a Reasonable Number?
Answer is Simple Nobody Really Knows.

Smart people have tried to answer the question, but not even Matt Cutts has provided a definitive statement. He wrote, “It seemed about right to recommend 100 links or so,” and “in some cases, it might make sense to have more than a hundred links.

So, should you go for 100 links? Maybe, but that 100-total links includes all the links on a page — footers, headers, nav bars, ads, everything. 100 links isn’t as hard as it sounds, once you calculate the total number of HREFs on an entire page.

When it comes to internal linking, I suggest around three to four, depending on the length of your post. I usually write articles that exceed 1,500 words, and I don’t have a link-heavy navigation bar. So, I wouldn’t feel bad about throwing in ten or twenty internal links if I needed to.

There’s no magic number. There is however, the all-important user. Add as many links as would be helpful for the user.

8. Make sure all the important pages are linked.

These days, search engines rely both on sitemaps and links to discover web pages. It means that even unlinked or the so-called 'orphan' pages can be found by the search engines as these pages are listed in the sitemap.

But it's impossible to find 'orphan' pages through the website's navigation. Such pages virtually don't exist for the users. It's a good idea to get rid of orphan pages; you can either delete them (if they are useless) or link them from other pages of the website.

Landing pages that are created for pay-per-click campaigns are an exception. They often act as independent website areas that are not linked from the main website's content and are normally blocked from indexation.

9. Make sure image links have alt attributes.

The alt attribute of image links acts like anchor text for text links — so it's another opportunity to send a ranking signal to search engines.

So, Make sure image links have alt attributes.

10. Mind duplicate links to the same URL.

If there are several links on the same page that point to the same URL, search engines would give the priority to the first anchor text.

Keep this in mind and use the right keywords in the first link's anchor: subsequent anchors won't matter as much.

11. Place links within pages' main content.

The links placed within a page's content have a higher SEO value than the ones in the header, footer, or sidebar. The latter have more to do with navigation, and it looks like Google treats those as non-editorial links.

Links in the main content, on the other hand, add new information and value to the text. Furthermore, the text and keywords surrounding a link also matter for the ranking of the target page.

On the contrary, if you force links with additional information to open in a new tab, it's easier to go back to the original piece of content.

In order to force browser to open a link in a new tab, add a 'target' attribute to the link in HTML:

<a href="http://exampleurl.com" target="_blank">Anchor Text<a>

However, remember to avoid this tactic when you channel users through a conversion funnel. In this case, links should be opening in the same tab.

12. Point links from traffic pages to conversion pages.

Many companies run a blog to create "engaging and useful content". Some of them achieve the goal, and their posts attract significant traffic. The problem is that a blog post can rarely boast a high conversion rate.

Why not channel users from high-traffic blog posts to landing pages that are specifically optimized for conversion?

13. Keep it Natural.

This strategy implies that you don't care about the number of internal links, their anchors, or any SEO tricks. You just follow common sense and create links to the content that may be helpful to your users; as simple and elegant as that.

In practice, it means that you should only keep in mind the internal linking best practices that I mentioned in this post.