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Google Hot Pot Thrown into the Mix

Joe Johnson

Following recent news that Google began integrating local entries into its natural results (see previous post) the latest buzz in the search engine optimisation world is Google’s announcement of a system that combines user reviews with a social networking aspect which debuted today. The deliciously named Google Hotpot is not one of Jamie Oliver’s 30 minute meals, but a web application that grants the ability to submit concise reviews and a ‘star’ rating system to amenities that users have frequented.

By logging into hotpot and typing in a key phrase e.g.  the semantically inaccurate but ultra-convenient ‘Restaurants Worthing’ returns results for most of the eateries in that area, complete with user reviews which anyone can add to with a scathing critique or a glittering commendation. Any viewpoint, be it positive or negative, is added to the SERPS page for that particular business.

This certainly adds a social aspect to local search results, reviews are currently sourced primarily from sites like ‘tripadvisor’ and ‘qype’ but the addition of Hotpot to Google’s growing bank of resources means that users may find more relevancy in their results as they will be able to see friend’s opinions listed in the SERPS. Hotpot also has the feature to filter reviews so only friend’s views are displayed.

This particular aspect echoes the theory behind Bing’s recent innovation which dictates that social results will be relevant results. Bing’s social search involves the integration of friend’s actions of Twitter and Facebook to the SERPS, meaning a search for ‘iPhone’ for example will not only deliver results from powerful sites, but also mentions of the phrase in your friend’s social news feeds.

This is indicative of the web as a whole becoming more socially connected, Hotpot has already been dubbed the ‘recommendation engine’ a fitting tag to an application which revamps and encourages use of the Google review system.

Hotpot, along with Places, also represents Google’s first foray into the growing location-based app market, following hot on the heels of Facebook Places and Foursquare which looks be under serious treat from the two big players. Google has stolen the jump on Facebook with the recommendation aspect, but reports are that Facebook are hard at work on Places with a number of developments going on behind the scenes.


It is yet to be seen if Hotpot will have any gravity on search results and therefore SEO. Places certainly shook things up, making proximity a key factor of a sites placing in the SERPs and future developments could see the amount and positivity of results affection positions. This is of course all speculation, we will have to wait and see if Hotpot attracts uptake first; in the meantime Google have a few bugs to sort out!

Is Hotpot a service you would use either on your desktop or mobile? Do you think it will have any bearing on search results?


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