Update 11/23/19: It might be too early to “declare victory” but several Google Product Experts have noted that the specific Q&A that they track have returned to “normal”, ie the number of Q&A they had when all of this started on October 10th. Barbara Oliver Jewelry, whose count has varied wildly since that time is now showing 11 once again. We will know more when we look at a large number of locations.
Update 11/18/19: While the volatility in Q&A continues with the number showing changing daily, least week at a regional Google Product Expert meetup, Google confirmed that it is a “technical issue” and that they are aware of the problem.
Starting on October 10th, we noticed a steep drop in the number of questions and answers that were showing in Google Business Profiles. My inbox literally blew up with notifications of Q&A’s being removed.
A few days later, the question was raised by Ben Fisher in the Local Search Forum and it was confirmed that the issue was Google-wide.
Google Questions didn’t just disappear. They came and went, some days dropping by 90%. Other days saw Questions bouncing up and then completely returning only to be lost again. Barbara Oliver Jewelry’s original count of 11 dropped to 4, then 1, bounced back up to 7, and then back down to 4. Some days the front page count matched reality and on others it did not. Today, last I looked, they were back up to 10.
If a Question had an Answer, it also disappeared. Although they appear to not be “lost” they remain MIA.
We took a look at the number of Google Questions across the sites we monitor to see what was happening and exactly how many Questions had disappeared, or not. As of November 6th, 2019, we saw 55% fewer Google Questions than we had seen in early October.
Ben Fisher of SteadyDemand asked Google (via the private Product Expert forum) exactly what was happening. He noted that even if a question had disappeared from view if a user started typing a question that could be answered by that lost question, it would show as an answer.
Google finally indicated that they were investigating and would let us know.
While we all wonder what is going on with Google Q&A and what is causing the volatility, we just don’t really know yet. All we can do for now is sit tight and wait for Google to make up our minds.