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Last November, we introduced Hotpot, our recommendation engine to help people discover great new places when they search on Google. It’s simple: Rate and review the places you know, add friends whose opinions you trust and we serve you up personalized recommendations based on those tastes.
Since then, we’ve released an iPhone and Android app, integrated Hotpot recommendations into Google.com and Google Maps, expanded to more than 47 languages and enabled people to share their ratings and reviews to Twitter. While busy iterating on the product side, we’ve also launched marketing and community campaigns in five cities in the U.S.: Portland, Ore.; Austin, Texas; Las Vegas, Nev.; Madison, Wis.; and Charlotte, N.C.
Google's move should worry Yelp, whose business model rests entirely on providing the same service – customer reviews and business advertising. Yelp still has a significant following, with reviews of everything from restaurants to New York sex clubs, but being integrated into Google's search and supported by mass mailings of QG Codes and NFC stickers could well give Google Places the upper hand.