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James Perrin

Google Hotpot: Local search gets personal

2nd Feb 2011 Social Media, Facebook, News, Industry News, Social Media 2 minutes to read

Do you ever find that when you search for something, say a restaurant or venue, you wished you could trust the recommendations and opinions written about it? We have all performed a search in Google and received comments about a place from someone that we have never met.

Well those clever guys at Google have come up with a way to only see reviews from the people you trust, called Google Hotpot. Yesterday they announced some enhancements to this service.

Google Hotpot was announced back in November as way of sharing local recommendations with your friends. Originally you would log into Google Hotpot and rate the places you have been to. You would add the friends whose opinions you trust and they would recommend and comment on the places they have been to. The next time you log into Google Hotpot, you would perform a search for anything you want, say Mexican restaurants in your town. Provided that your friends have been to these places and they have commented about them, you can see what they have to say about them.

Well, Google have gone further with this and in their latest blog [See: Google Hotpot now on Google.com and around the world] they have revealed that as long as you are logged into your Google account, you can see your friends recommendations when you perform a normal search; you don’t have to be logged into Google Hotpot to see what your friends think.

However will it take off? I mean, Facebook is perfect to see what your friends ‘like’ and services like Yelp has a thorough database of trusted reviews of leisure pursuits. Is this just a way of Google trying to compete as a social media format, or at the very least better integrate it within their search? They already have Buzz which hasn’t really taken off and it could be possible that Hotpot is destined for a similar outcome.

Yet, the fact that your friend’s recommendations are visible when you perform a regular search does make this service a whole lot more interesting. It will eliminate competitors faking comments that deceive searchers into thinking they should or shouldn’t visit a particular hotel or bar for example.

Google Hotpot is a great insight into the future of search and web trends in general. With Facebook becoming the most visited site of 2010 [See: Facebook Overhaul Google as the Most Popular Site of 2010], this gave way to suggestions the future of the internet was in the hands of social media. What this suggests is that whilst Social media has changed web trends, people still need to use search. If someone shares and comments using social media, they still need to search for what they are sharing in order to make a comment. In this sense Google Hotpot looks like the start of a fusion between search and social.

Having recommendations appear in a regular search and in a variety of languages for users of different countries does give this service some positive light. The fact that it’s available as an iPhone app and as a widget on Android phones, also makes the service more appealing and believable that it could take off. However, Google’s track record of social media isn’t great, and this leaves Google Hotpot in the balance.

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