If you haven’t already heard, Google Plus will slowly cease to exist before eventually being deleted completely by August of 2019. While this service has already been on a downward spiral for quite some time, another feature of Google’s that is still as relevant as ever is its Questions and Answers tool.
We wrote about Google Q&A early in 2018, specifically talking about its strengths and weaknesses for local businesses, particularly veterinary hospitals. To briefly summarize Google Questions and Answers, this service works as an open-forum FAQ for your hospital which is displayed on your Google Knowledge panel. People online can ask—and answer—questions about your practice which anyone can see.
There are many pros and cons to this tool—with smart usage, it can turn into a very strong marketing outlet. But if you neglect or dismiss it, you risk leaving your reputation on the line (more on that later). For those that do wish to take advantage of it, the very first step you need to take is to claim your Google Business listing if you haven’t already.
As we stated in our 2018 Veterinary Marketing Benchmark report, 92 percent of veterinary hospitals have claimed their Google Listing, but only 5.3 percent of these hospitals are actively engaging with the Google Q&A feature. At iVET360, our research has shown that this needs to change, and that EVERY hospital that has a claimed listing NEEDS to be active on Google Q&A.
Why are we encouraging this? For one, we see that the average veterinary hospital is receiving approximately three questions for their listing. However, by not being engaged, they are potentially allowing false information to float around on the internet—and as we all know, some people do believe everything they see online.
Ultimately, Google Questions and Answers comes down to if you are using it and how you are using it—if you are engaged, you can basically use it as free marketing. If you are unaware or dismissive of Google Questions and Answers, well, the floodgates are open, and a lot of different scenarios can occur.
See below, please—and brace yourselves.
First off, let’s focus on the positives. Here is good usage of Google Q&A:
For more reference, here is even more good usage:
But wait, there’s more.
Here is one final example of good Google Q&A:
Now, let’s move on to the bad, because you can’t have good without the bad. Here are some examples of bad usage of Google Q&A:
It can get worse, however. See below for some really, really bad Google Q&A.
Another example shown below isn’t necessarily damaging, but it’s still bad for everyone involved.
Finally, see below for our last example of bad Google Q&A:
Whenever you are thinking of the good and the bad of anything, you always need to consider the ugly. Here is where Google Q&A can get ugly:
Jokes are jokes, but ugliness also comes in other forms. See below for more.
Here, the trend continues of innocuous questions becoming peppered with ugly, fruitless responses:
While we know that the goal of a veterinary hospital is to heal animals, it’s also important to remember that this industry is a business, which means that things can get real unpleasant real fast:
This final example shows the ugliness in two different threads, which appear to be unbeknownst to the hospital:
The Good scenarios in our above examples illustrate perfect usage of Google Questions and Answers and they all serve as a model for how to efficiently—and smartly—use this tool. The latter two scenarios, well, just take a look at all of them again. Not only are they all Bad and Ugly, they could have all been avoided had each hospital (you guessed it) just been active on Google Questions and Answers.
At iVET360, we are industry leaders when it comes to veterinary marketing. Our specialists work closely with Google to maximize the online presence of animal hospitals while also staying on top of things like Google Questions and Answers, the Google Knowledge Panel and much more.
If your practice isn’t already actively using the (mostly free) tools that Google has available, we encourage you to contact us. As a veterinary services company that operates on a no-contract basis, our experts can help your practice with not only marketing, but analytics and HR and training, too.
For additional information and more details about our suite of services, contact us today.