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:

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Google Pushing HotPot to the Big Leagues by

28 thoughts on “Google Pushing HotPot to the Big Leagues”

  1. Mike: That is all well and good, but today when I went to leave a review (re #RWX Review Wednesday) Hotpot/Google Places wasn’t working at all.

    BROKE AGAIN!!! Tried accessing the reviews several ways. Went to my hotpot acct…went to the restaurant….couldn’t get the review published. Started all over again. Signed into my acct, went to the google places record, tried to write a review. Wouldn’t work again.

    Tried a third time. Didn’t sign into google. Went to the places record of the restaurant, Tried to write a review. Got sent back to my google sign in. Signed in. Tried to write a review.

    Again it didn’t work.

    Wrote the review in Yelp. :D It was E.A.S.Y Probably won’t even try to write a review in Google Places anymore. Its simply to problematic. Won’t encourage people to write reviews in Google Places. Its too frustrating.

    There are lots of easier places to write reviews. I’ll go elsewhere.

  2. @Mike & @earl…gotta agree here. hotpot for us canucks via g.ca has been ‘broken’ for 3 outta the past 8 days….I too have tried many ways to get in and to update some reviews….and the circuitous route @earl above listed is broken still for us up here — least my access is out of whack!

    that all said, I do wonder if such ‘inclusion’ will lead to actual sightings of friends reviews…and I also wonder how long the spammer/scammer/fraud seos will take to find a way to game the system too…sigh…

    :-(

    Jim

    PS Yelp continues to be easy on my desktop or iPhone too….

  3. It’s so disheartening to see further evidence of a poor work ethic on Google’s part. Pushing forward a broken product instead of taking the time to make it a good product first is just not right. A company that takes pride in its work does its best work.. Google had skated by on their beta mentality for so many products that they have launched over the years; Local is different. You cannot ethically launch beta products that have so serious an effect on real businesses. If you want to feel proud of your company’s output, you have to take Local more seriously than Google is, and I find the marketing of a broken HotPot on top of a broken review system to be distasteful. What do you say, Mike?

  4. @Miriam & @Mike….as did I!

    it’s a great piece and opinion, @Miriam and I gotta agree, that if your revenues are like $8billion+, wouldn’t that allow some dough for support folks and yes, even to chase apps outta beta and into a form that we can all use…successfully!

    :-(

    Jim

  5. Absolutely terrific article, Miriam!!! and I (as a charter member w/ above stooges) of the local stooges ;) also tweeted it.

    I think its a must read!!!

  6. Mike, my #1 question after reading this is how jealous I am that Carter accepted your friend request. Or even more jealous if it was the other way around :)

    It’ll be fascinating to see Hotpot adoption rates if it maintains such a prominent position. I’m a little surprised they aren’t branding Hotpot reviews with an icon in some way…

  7. @Mike – send me your address so I can friend you as well :)
    @David – good recap of what we’re doing in Portland, nicely written
    @Earl and @Jim – I’m not aware of any specific brokenness for leaving a review, will be helpful if you can be more specific? There’s some Place Page issues Mike pointed out few weeks ago which we’re working on and there’s of course the known issues of disappearing reviews we continue to work and are getting better slowly but surely (Mike, not sure if this sentence restarts the counter or not)

    Lior.

  8. @Lior
    Aren’t you the guy that liked Danko’s? I am not sure that I can afford your taste :)

    I would (grudgingly) acknowledge that the statement does probably qualify… although it may cause me to start another that dates from the day the bug was first reported and runs to the time when the bug(s) is (are) finally eliminated.

    Reviews are obviously a very touchy and important area. It is not clear to me that Google has yet “doubled down” in the space with adequate resources to solve the many “quirks” that continue to show (inability to leave reviews, lost reviews, inability to comment on reviews, inability to delete reviews, inability to see the history of older anonymous reviewers……).

  9. @Mike – Danko’s — man every time I know I’m going to SF, I call to make a reservation MONTHs early….and every time I’m told ‘sorry, we’re fully booked for months past that date…” sigh….

    reviews? sigh….it’s a crapshoot right now…but I sure wish G would look into this with more’n the # of engineers they pushed into this issue….

    …sigh…

    :(

    Jim

  10. Lior: How specific can I be?

    I tried it 3 times.

    A) signed in thru hotpot. w/in hotpot searched for place for where I wanted to write review. Went to review. hovered over stars. nothing. entered text. nothing. noted which traits I liked-nothing. couldn’t publish review. Publish button never went live.

    B). signed into g acct and went to restaurant places page. same procedure as above.

    C). went to G Places site directly. tried to write review. then signed into G acct as directed. Same as above.

    3 tries. 3 failures. strike out.

    As to your wanting to restart the “clock”. nice effort~~:D

    Its Mike’s blog, and his call. I believe he is generous in his response. In general and in an overwhelming manner businesses have specific complaints within the G Places Forum or these complaints and problems are grouped w/in the Places Forum Google gives a single response and everyone is left in the dark from there on in. Google doesn’t communicate.

    Its hilarious to me that it took the effective “picture” of a clock and the second by second impact of a highly sarcastic easily seen powerful symbol of ticking away to once again pull Google out of the “we don’t communicate” dark hole.

    There isn’t a single tech business anywhere that gets away with this non-communication strategy. Requisite customer service is 2nd nature to the tech environment. Any other business attempting such a blatant disregard of others would have been out of business years ago.

    I repeat: IMHO Mikes response to you is generous of spirit, especially in light of years of non-responsiveness by G.

  11. @Lior, here are some specifics:

    Logged into G account, went to Hotpot to write a review for #RWX, found the business and was only offered star ratings, but no comment box.

    I really dislike ratings without comments (no pop-up comment box offered on mouse-over), so I clicked through to the Places Page. At top of the page, selected 5 stars in ‘Your Rating’. Scrolled down to “Been here? Rate and Review” and again selected 5 Stars and added text.

    My Reviews summary then displayed 2 sets of ratings for the business (and still does): one with just the stars, and another with the stars and comment. Not wanting to look like a ratings spammer for the biz, I selected ‘Delete’ of the ‘stars only’ rating.

    Neither my rating nor review now appear for the business unless I’m logged into my G account. Nothing shows on the public side.

    This is a really great local business and they deserve far better reviews than the one left by a disgruntled shopper.

    Company Place Page with my missing review
    My Profile

    IMO it’s confusing to have 2 sets of ratings stars on one Places Page, especially if they create 2 different ratings/reviews entries. And now neither show…

    Hope this is specific enough.

  12. Cathy
    Your bug is a different one than Earl or Jim experienced. I experienced something similar to yours and used your example to re-elevate the bug in Google’s private forums. I am curious when the user that is experiencing these problems was created?

  13. I just got back from a trip to Thailand and noticed reviews from TripAdviser were not showing for the first hotel I wanted to review. So I created a HotPot review without any issues (whew!) and a TripAdviser review. If they ever get it all working properly, it will likely become the review destination of choice – as it’s a one-stop review process that will encompass all kinds of entities. It will be interesting to see how it plays out. Andy :-)

  14. @Andy

    Oooh lucky you! Thailand. You will have to read the back library to see what happened to the TA reviews. :

  15. So would search engine marketing sites need to add hotpot as part of their strategy or is it irrelevant since the point is seeing what your friends are reviewing. I haven’t really paid much attention to hotpot but after seeing your post, but if it is going to be part of the 7-pack, that certainly gets my attention.

  16. @cathy, thanks for the feedback:
    - you can leave text reviews in the hotpot UI – if you click on the stars the card flip and you can add your comments
    - there’s a hover on the top of the place page – once you select stars there you should see an open text box
    - you should be able to see your ratings/reviews on place page without being logged in (I can see it)
    - we’re aware of the bug with both entry points on place page not playing nicely together, we’ll address it

    @earlpearl, 530 comments on Mike’s blog! I don’t think I’ll get that far but maybe this response will establish more credibility to the decision of restarting the counter :) I’ve commented here before b.t.w so it wasn’t the counter that drew me from that black hole and yes, fully agree we need to communicate more
    - I’m not aware of what you’ve described in A), B) or C) – all of these usecases should work, can you reproduce it? which browser?

    Lior.

  17. Hi Lior

    Must be the warm and fuzzies that I consistently send your way? :)

    re: - you should be able to see your ratings/reviews on place page without being logged in (I can see it)

    Cathy is experiencing a bug on the not being able to see the reviews when logged out. Normal behavior is to so allow… but one of my “test” users also has the exact same problem.

    The reviews/ratings show when logged in but disappear when logged out or logged in as a different user.

    This is a bug that I have brought to Google’s attention via the Places private forums.

  18. @Lior:

    Yup: over 500 comments: sort of a big mouth in blog world, huh? :D
    BTW: of the many comments…did you read the one where I suggested Google pay Mike for essentially doing the work you guys should be doing? http://blumenthals.com/blog/2011/02/03/basic-places-practices-how-do-you-claim-an-owner-verified-listing/#comment-544889

    (please note–he isn’t a fan of Mickey D’s)

    Reviews work for me now. Wasn’t working when I reported it. Probably was using chrome the entire time I tried that day.

    Used the same sequence 3 times trying to sign in each time as described before: hovered over stars (nothing) ; wrote review (the button to initiate the review never changed status.

    I don’t know: maybe it was a “personalized” penalty for “over commenting” on Blumy’s blog. :D

  19. Lior

    In an effort at full disclosure, I must admit that I have “promised” earlpearl a plush hotel bathrobe if you do in fact, fulfill his monetary suggestions. :)

  20. @Mike I hope that bathrobe for Earlpearl is pink, includes at least a hoodie, and perhaps assorted other coverings to help keep his head warm…

    @Lior great of you to stop by. Hotpot has the potential to be an incredible product for Google and you have done a tremendous job with execution here in PDX as far as I can tell.

  21. @David:

    I was commenting to Mike that nobody seems to have joined in my effort to “pimp” for money for him, in that he has been doing Google’s work…and there you go “pimping” for me.

    If the bathrobe is thick, lush and luxurious, I’ll go with it: with that color scheme and the accouterments.

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