Hotpot Loses Identity, Gets Merged Into Places

Tired of seeing confused expressions when you asked customers to leave your business a Hotpot review? We all were, but no more! Now you can simply ask them to leave you a review on your Google Place Page, because Hotpot is done–well, at least as a standalone product.

Over on the newly rebranded Google Places Blog, Google Hotpot Product Manager Lior Ron lets us know that Hotpot is going Places, losing its unique name and being rolled right into Google Places. Ah, simplicity!

Lior writes:

It’s been incredibly exciting to watch Hotpot grow—the community has quickly expanded to millions of users who are rating more than 1 million times per month and enjoying a truly personalized view of the world. Based on this success, we’ve decided to graduate Hotpot to be a permanent part of our core local product offering, Google Places. Rolling Hotpot into Google Places helps simplify the connection between the places that are rated and reviewed and the more than 50 million places that already have an online presence through Google Places—places that millions of people search for and find every day on Google.

Personally, I think this a great move by Google and one that should have been done from the very beginning. Keeping Hotpot as a separate entity (especially with such an odd name) took away from what Google was trying to do because it broke the connection between reviews and a particular location. Now that it’s all housed under the same roof, it does help to simplify things and shows reviews as a natural component to doing business, for both users and business owners. Don’t get me wrong, creating a unique brand is great, but not when it takes away from your core mission and what you’re trying to get across to users. This is a smart move by Google.

If you want “normal” Internet users to adopt the process of reviews, you need to make it intuitive and seamless. The Hotpot review process, itself, is. However, banishing it to its own identity was not.

Now that Hotpot has taken its rightful place under the Google Places umbrella, I’m sure this is only the beginning. Back in December I wrote about 4 Ways to Get More From Your Google Place Page, and encouraged SMBs to start heavily going after reviews. As a small business owner, if you weren’t leveraging online reviews, especially Google Place reviews, then you may want to up your strategy in this area. Reach out to consumers via email newsletters, at checkout, from social media touch points, through things like check-in offers, etc.If you haven’t created a strategy for how you’ll solicit reviews from consumers without being annoying, now is the time.

What do you think of the rebrand? Do you like that reviews will now be a natural part of Google Places or did you like Hotpot as a standalone product?

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Lisa Barone Lisa Barone is Vice President of Strategy at Overit, an Albany Web design and development firm where she serves on the senior staff overseeing the company’s marketing consulting, social media, and content divisions.

8 Reactions
  1. Oh, I’m going to miss making jokes about Hotpot’s name (though this is definitely going to make leaving a review much more intuitive for Google users).

  2. Yelp, I’m digging the re-brand. Tired of so many option when looking for something. Happy that Google will just figure everything out for me in the future.

  3. So glad G merged HotPot it into it’s rightful place as an integrated feature of Google Places. I blogged it a few days ago and made this point.

    No one is talking about how huge this HotPot merging into Places deal is – but to me it speaks VOLUMES.

    Have you seen how much energy and how many dollars G was putting into promoting HotPot including major “feet on the street” marketing campaigns? I think it diverted SO MUCH energy and money AWAY from Google Places. Now all those campaigns will be talking Google Places instead and creating more awareness for the total local solution, not just HotPot.

    I think/hope we’ll see Google Places improve now, especially with Jeff Huber at the helm and pressure from the new Bing Business Portal.

  4. Lisa, I only care that they’ve improved the user experience, which is what you’re writing about, too. I never understood the HotPot stuff as a separate gig.

    Linda, glad to see you here — if this is the same Linda that I met years back in the 5Star Affiliate Programs.

  5. Hey TJ, good to see you too! Yes I still own 5 Star but also have another company specializing in Google Places. See you around!

  6. Nice post Lisa, this had to happen sites like Yelp do local and reviews so much better, Hotpot was not going to work. Google places has certainly given the SEO industry a ton of work!

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