Google no longer see’s Yahoo and Bing as it’s main competitor and is now competing with Social network giant Facebook, as part of this rivalry Google as launched a new local service to rival Facebook’s Places called Hot Pot.
By using Google Hot Pot users can now review and rate the places they visit, similar to Foursquare and Facebook Places it will be used on mobile devices and is now available on Google Android phones, the Google mobile website and before long will be available for the iPhone.
The application is in widget form and lets you check in and rate certain criterias of a venue, such as food, atmosphere and service this is then posted and will come up on the Google Places directory for everyone to see.
Google Hot Pot seems to be another way Google is trying to branch out into the social networking arena after failed attempts such as Google Buzz and Google Wave. The isea is you are connected to friends and they can use your recommendations when choosing to eat out or go to a venue.
Product Manager Mat Balez explains this on the Google Mobile blog:
“Why rate the places you’ve been? First, your ratings will personalize your search results by customizing them according to your tastes,”
“Even better, when you add friends to the mix using Hotpot on your computer, your ratings will point them in the direction of the best enchiladas in town the next time they crave Mexican food, wherever they happen to be.”
So Google Hotpot will be connecting with their social graph throwing them into competition with the likes of Facebook Places and Foursquare.
Google local and Google places has been getting an increased presence in the search engines over the past few weeks and this update seems to follow on from this meaning SEO Companies and businesses may have to revisit their local presence and mange their reputation well.
These kinds of applications can be a nightmare for small businesses as it leaves them open for criticism that can be seen everywhere, however good reputation management and taking on board the criticism for an improved service could help them overall.