Ash Nallawalla's blog

Google Hotpot heats up the local search scene

Ash Nallawalla

16 November 2010

Local Search

As if the recent release of Place Search wasn’t enough, Google announced the launch of Hotpot in its LatLong blog post.

Signing up for Google Hotspot
Signing up for Google Hotspot

It is a new way to provide your ratings and reviews for any business that is listed in Place Pages.  You can get recommendations of nearby places and involve your friends in writing reviews as well. I signed up and picked a recognisable user name AshNallawalla.

Rating a restaurant I visited recently
Rating a restaurant I visited recently

The star rating interface is fine but the additional one with sad/smiley faces is hard to decipher. At least I think those are sad/smiley faces.

A new layout for Google Places
A new layout for Google Places

Google has syndicated ratings and reviews from other companies for a long time and has also allowed users to write a review, so Hotpot is just a new layout.

Assessment

Google is emphasising the value of friends’ recommendations. I don’t have the same tastes as my friends in many things, especially restaurants. A lot of people I know rave about sushi, for example. I find it an offence to the palate, so no Japanese food outlet would ever rate as “great” in my reviews.

The Google blog post implies that Hotpot solves this problem by my inviting only certain friends to Hotpot. I don’t get the logic. My friend Cora likes Mexican, as I do, but she also likes fish, which I don’t. My friend Morris likes most cuisines I like, so there’s one, but I have other friends whose tastes overlap and sometimes conflict with mine.

Will this have any effect on organic rankings? Possibly, but I don’t think this is a change from before. Google will attract more reviews through its own service, as opposed to through one of the content providers, so this might be regarded as more reliable.

What do you think?

Ash Nallawalla

Search strategist experienced in large, complex websites. Ash's Google+ profile

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