Google Pushing HotPot to the Big Leagues

Google announced last night that Hotpot friend recommendations are now showing on the main Google search results in the 7-pack. They are also showing in the local organic blended results and branded searches.

Google is working on social tools on a number of fronts more or less successfully. You can never count them out though when they are willing to bring the full weight of the front page of Google to the game.

It appears to me that eating, reviews and ratings are where they are really where they are making a stand and to do so they are driving traffic to Hotpot. Hotpot previously has been highlighted in Maps, Places and mobile.

What better way to incent Hotpot users than to show them, front and center, where their friends ate. What better way to create more Hotpot engagement and traffic than showing it on the front page of Google. Let the ego games begin.

Here is a screen shot of a branded Local Universal result where you can see the inclusion of Hotpot ratings:

Related posts:

  1. Google Hotpot – Yelp Meets Netflix in a Local Recommendation Engine
  2. Google Hotpot Recommendations Now Surfacing on Places Page and Maps
  3. Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?

Interview with Lior Ron, Hotpot Product Manager

The interview is longish but well worth watching and chock full of gems. It is refreshing to hear candid remarks from the Maps team.

How Long Has Marissa M Been Testing Hotspot?

Gary Danko, is not the sort of restaurant that I would typically eat at, not that I wouldn’t like to try it one day. Dinners run towards $200/ head. While, it is unlikely I ever will eat there, the many, many reviews provide for some interesting reading.

Amrita – Aug 12, 2010
The seared foie gras is to die for. also, don’t go with more than three courses unless you are *really* starving

I presume that the word starving is not meant literally in this context.

But it also appears to be a favorite haunt for Googlers, particularly those on the Maps team. This includes both long time veterans and some recent arrivals. In the body of reviews there are some interesting narratives and insights (both real and imagined).

Carter doesn’t appear all that cracked up about the place giving it but a one star Hotpot rating. Lior Ron, a senior product manager on the Maps team on the other hand ate there on September 18th and gave it 5 stars.  Marissa M also seemed to really enjoy it here, giving it a 5 star rating.

Marissa M rates a restuarantHer Hotpot rating, a feature not available to mere mortals until this month, was created on January 21st, 2010. She shows two periods of intense Hotpot ratings prior to introduction ( August 13th and January 21st )Hmm… perhaps she was thinking of working in Local long before her job description rewrite in October?

Theirs weren’t the only “early” ratings to show. Gary Danko also seems to not just be a hangout for Googlers but to be a testing grounds for Hotpot with 250 of the 290 Google reviews appearing to be ratings, many of which occurred long before Hotpot was released.

The reviews combined with the many ratings also provide an inkling into the relative algorithmic importance of reviews vs ratings. Take a look at the general ordering of the different review types on this page and note that long form reviews are shown first in date order (with the exception of the most recent), followed by Hotpot ratings that include brief reviews again in date order, followed by ratings with no comments. It would appear that if you want your review to really count, take some time and add some detail!

So what have we learned with this guided tour of Gay Danko’s reviews? Carter and Marissa M seem to have dramatically different tastes in restaurants. Googlers are obviously spending way too much on eating out. They typically are NOT eating at restaurants that serve hotpot.

The key take away for me is….

Upon entering Gary Danko’s never shout loudly with an Android glued to your ear: I have a call here for a Google Employee From Sergey! You might get hurt.