If likes are the new links then ratings are the new reviews. At least as far as Google is concerned as they continue to integrate elements from Hotpot into Places.
I noted the other day that Google was integrating HotSpot friend recommendations in personalized Map results. They are also now including a new rating level with an eye-catching Best Ever ribbon/icon from Hotpot on the Places Pages.
This sort of additional ego boost might just incent business owners to train their customers how to use Google Hotspot. If Google adds some ranking strength to the signal, business owners will be crashing down the gates to get the rating.
The new Google HotPot offers a more relaxed user feedback environment than Google Places, allowing for just a star rating and a quick sentiment (for hotels & restaurants) but also encouraging, although not requiring, a brief review.
Google Places has recently added the ability to add this simpler, quick Hotpot like star rating to businesses that show in the Related Places area of the Place page (When did they change the name from Nearby Places You Might Like?). The option is only available on Places that have previously received Google reviews.
A rating doesn’t require the commitment that a review does and removes some of the barriers to Google gathering more of this sort of information from a broader range of searchers about a broader range of business. It is not clear that ratings will play a role in rankings but they already are playing a role in recommendations. And that is the likely future of search.
Update: As an addendum to this post, it is of interest that Ratings from Hotpot that do not include any review content are now also showing up in the “Reviews by Google” users section:
Update: The Lat Long Article How ratings and reviews work on Google Places points to a Google Hotpot Help file that notes you can rate a business in the following places:
To rate a business on desktop, simply hover over rating stars anywhere you see them. Here are places you’ll see the rating stars, on your computer.
With your mobile device, you can rate places while on the go. You’ll see the rating stars several places on your phone.
- Google Maps mobile app for Android
- Places Android app
- Android home screen rating widget
- Mobile Place pages