By admin on 16 November 2010 @ 10:00 AM.
With many recent changes to Google Places, some of which leaving many of us slightly bewildered (such as the removal of reviewer names), like almost, out of nowhere and very quietly, Google launches Hotpot, it's new recommendation engine for places.
Without question, local search is huge right now and Google have been focusing a lot of attention on enhancing their Google Places platform since the transition from Google Local Business. Not only have they been developing their location search algorithm within Google Places, but you will notice to see many other location orientated features included with other Google services.
First impressions on Hotpot are great, the user interace is clean, simplistic and easy to navigate. This system will encourage Hotpot users to rate and review businesses as well as their favourite places, these are clearly displayed in the counters at the top of your profile and Google will remember your ratings/reviews and used in Google's recommendation engine to suggest to other users.
Up to date, Google has always sourced many of it's ratings and reviews for businesses from 3rd party rating/review websites and directories. With the launch of Google Hotpot, it will be interesting to see whether Google will gradually phase out the import of ratings on 3rd party sites and only rely on the contribution of Hotpot users, time will tell.
This does slightly clear up the confusion left after the removal of business reviewer usernams on Google Places, within Hotpot, how this will work now is when you leave a review for a business, your Google Places nickname will be shown, you can change your Places nickname if you choose to, ensuring that it is separate from your Google account therefore protecting your privacy/anonymity further. Only your friends on Google will be able to see your profile nickname/real name.
Although having used this only briefly, the system appears to functioning flawlessly, something I am not too prone to saying about Google's services, their nearest rival on this platform is probably Yelp, and the same cannot be said for their system where I have encountered numerous problems just getting my basic business/personal profiles working. Should they be worried about the release of Google Hotpot? Probably so, let us know your thoughts in the comments.