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. Continue reading How Long Has Marissa M Been Testing Hotspot?

Google Places Search -Layout Experiments Continue

Whether Google is testing more on Thanksgiving or whether folks are searching more to avoid watching that football game with their relatives, I am not sure. But yesterday two readers of this blog sent me screenshots of different layouts involving Places search.

Dennis Brennan sent me these screen shots showing the related searches appearing where the ads normally appear and the ads appearing at the bottom…

Here is the bottom screen shot from the search showing the ads:
Continue reading Google Places Search -Layout Experiments Continue

Google Hotspot Influence Rolling Across All of Google Local

We continue to learn about changes across all of Google local products as Hotspot is further integrated into the rating and review process. Lat Long Blog points out that Places will now include a new section highlighting recommendations from friends:

I noted in Rating are the new Reviews that Google was now allowing rating in Places. Actually it is much more pervasive than that as they can now be made in all of the following Google products:

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

Google Places Odds and Ends

Google Places Help: Instructions Included for Multi-Language Listings

Google has long noted that having the same listing in multiple languages was acceptable. If you were not extremely careful merging of the multi lingual listings might occur unless they had been bulk uploaded. Google has now updated the Places Help Pages to include instructions (if not warnings) as how to proceed:

Multi-Language Listings

In bilingual countries, it is possible to add your listing in each language spoken in that respective country.

If content of each language is very similar in only one field, such as describing ‘Most Famous Restaurant’, it’s possible to add each translation in every field. For example, use the following most famous restaurant / restaurant le plus célèbre.

If the content needs to be translated in each field, business owners should create a listing for each language. To change the language in your Places account, use the dropdown menu in the upper righthand corner of the web page.

Google Places Showing Related Places Twice On Page

This started showing up yesterday in Places… a bug? a feature? a test? an indicator of things to come? Hard to tell with Places these days…

Google Coupons Offers Now Showing in Maps List View

Slowly but surely Google coupons Offers are working their way toward the surface of Google. As Greg Sterling points out, this is one market that Google had an early start in but never capitalized on. Offers are now starting to surface in Maps List View.

TechCrunch recently reported Coupons.com has reached the $ Billion dollar level in coupons printed. …. whether Google can play in the coupon area or needs to buy someone is unclear. What is clear is that Google obviously recognizes their importance to local marketing

Google Places Quality Guidelines Comparison

The newest Places Quality guidelines include a number of significant changes.

In this update Google has not just added new rules but has removed a few specific guidelines from the previous set. A significant one that was noted by Linda Buquet was the removal of the following phrase in regards to content used in the description and the custom attribute fields: This type of content should never appear in your business’s title, address or category fields. It won’t be missed as it was a nearly impossible guideline to comply with.

Google is formally embracing an idea that was previously accepted by them of allowing creation of one listing per practitioner, and one listing for the office. They are also making their clearest statement yet about virtual businesses and their relationship to Places: Only businesses that make in-person contact with customers qualify for a Google Places listing.

Besides the obvious ban on the common use of Tag lines in a business name and the ban on the use of keyword information in the address field, the biggest changes and ones that will be hard to comply with, (and interesting to see how it is enforced) are the changes on categorization.

Here is a comparison of the previously published guidelines to the new ones on a line by line basis to help better understand these changes. I have italicized the differences in both directions if a significant rule was removed from the older guidelines. Continue reading Google Places Quality Guidelines Comparison

Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?

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.

Continue reading Google Places: Are Ratings the New Reviews?

Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

Several weeks ago, before, during and after the Hotspot rollout, newly created reviews from reviewers with non-public Google profiles were having their Places reviews filtered. I tested this by writing a number of reviews, over time and many places in a secondary account. All of the reviews were accepted, none were published.

Google has now implemented a new, limited review profile called a “Places Profile” that allows reviews  to be shown but requires a new, quasi private profile with at least a public nickname to proceed.

If a current Google account user without a public profile attempts to write a review on a business Place Page without this new Places profile they will see this message on the Places Page and will be unable to proceed until they visit Hotspot and enter their “nickname” (click to view larger) :


They are taken over to Hotspot and presented with this screen:

Continue reading Google Places Now Requiring New “Places Profile” For Reviews

A Reason Not to Move to Canada?

Since starting blogging I have made a number of very good friends and often times get to meet these folks in person. The other benefit (?) is that I occasionally receive unsolicited gifts in the mail. Google sent me a very cool Nexus Phone and a coffee mug. Once I even got a box of 40 count potatoes (the source of all potato jokes… how big was it?…) from your favorite Idaho internet marketer.

Today, in the mail, this Mountie Hat showed up. Obviously a Canuck reader was trying to convince me that while there are possibly good reasons to move to Canada there are also reasons not to. To see why …. Continue reading A Reason Not to Move to Canada?

Google Hotpot Recommendations Now Surfacing on Places Page and Maps

Hotpot, Google’s new recommendation engine for local, while still in its infancy is already influencing results in Places and Maps. In Maps, when a searcher sees a listing that has a review from a Hotpot friend, Google will surface that friend’s snippet in the list view. As such, in this case, it is the most relevant snippet I have ever seen in Maps view. It was surprising to “see a friend” and it was attention grabbing seeing Stever’s icon there. In that regard, it is very rewarding and likely to feed back into the social success of Hotpot…

The friends snippet is not yet showing on a pure Places search but it is showing up prominently on the Places Page. I assume once there is more data and the quality has been confirmed you will see it there and at some point showing in the organo local blended results as well. (click to see full size)
Continue reading Google Hotpot Recommendations Now Surfacing on Places Page and Maps

Developing Knowledge about Local Search