The Growth of Reviews In Google Places (aka Hotpot)


It was apparent to me in early January that the introduction of Google Hotpot was leading to vast increase in Google’s review/rating corpus. I was seeing reviews and ratings in industries and geographic areas that had not seen Google originated reviews and seeing them frequently.

To get a better handle on this trend I examined the review corpus in Google Places in the restaurant and car repair industries for the two month period immediately following the introduction of Hotpot (Nov 16 – Jan 16) for the top 7 listings in 7 large markets, 7 mid-sized markets and 7 very small markets. In total I looked at reviews/ratings for 147 of the top ranked businesses. The methodology, while somewhat flawed, showed even larger gains in Google’s market share of total reviews/ratings than I had anticipated.I am hoping to revisit the data and examine the changes since February.

Rather than letting this data sit unused on my hard drive I am publishing a small subset of the data for all to see.

Some conclusions that I drew at the time:

-Google had effectively moved from a minor to a major player in the review space in a very short period moving from 3-5% of the total review corpus to 20%.

-Google Places for Hotpot is a mobile success story demonstrating that having the right product at the right time AND promoting them can dramatically change markets.

-Historically Google reviews were stronger in both secondary and tertiary markets prior to 11/16 but showed dramatic improvements across the board with the rollout even in large cities where Yelp has always had a very dominant position. They also showed significant growth in hi tech markets like Ithaca NY.

-In Portland, where Google had significant “feet on the ground” they were able to increase their share to almost 40% to the total corpus. It is clear from their success in Portland why they have rolled out their marketing efforts to Austin, Madison, Charlotte and Las Vegas. Mid-sized cities all where Google’s marketing dollars can have the most impact. While their expenditures in Portland may have seemed exorbitant, it demonstrated how they can “own” a market going forward.

-The success of Google in the space further removed opportunity for general review sites to succeed. There are still opportunities in the review space but only in local niches and for companies that approached reviews in a different way.

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
The Growth of Reviews In Google Places (aka Hotpot) by

9 thoughts on “The Growth of Reviews In Google Places (aka Hotpot)”

  1. Wow Mike, that’s some interesting data. Am I reading this right?

    It looks to me that in Portland Google accumulated close to as many reviews in 2 months as all of the 3rd parties had in their history?

    That’s pretty amazing. They’re not just taking share, they’re dramatically expanding the number of reviews.

  2. Google has a built-in advantage with it’s massive Internet footprint. But beyond that they understand how important it is to have feet on the ground. Yelp’s Community Managers have done a fantastic job make their local review site truly local. Google seems to be using their playbook.

  3. @Criacao
    This is one time that they have pulled out most of the stops and ARE promoting their product… with good reason… promotion and increase awareness of Reviews leads to promoting Offers and promoting Offers will lead to the Google Wallet… closing the buying loop and improving their advertising products in Local.

    They do seem to have finally come to the realization that feet on the ground are the key to local.

    Certainly that effort has increased their visibility a hundred fold. The problem they have now though is dealing with their support image in Places where they are quickly turning from the warm fuzzy partner to the obtuse, distant and aggravating replacement for the print Yellow Pages.

    Merchants are a suspicious sort. Google has one opportunity to earn their trust and million opportunities to lose it. Places, with its bugs, quirks and lack of support could be characterized as their Waterloo in that regard.

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