Hotpot is Google’s new User Review system targeting search engine visitors rather than gathering reviews from other sources such as TripAdvisor for Hotel reviews.
A lot is changing in Search. Google has recently made some major changes to how information is displayed with huge emphasis on Local content generated through Google Places. Now, you’ll see that the map that was embedded into the first page of results has been moved to the left and the Places listings are now displayed with more details and user reviews.
This has now pushed the organic listing of websites down to the bottom of the page. That means your best efforts over the years to optimize your websites are no longer paying out as strongly as the work done within Google Places and the efforts made to confirm your locality details thru citation websites now control the top spots in search engine results.
(‘Citation Websites‘ are trusted directories that list a business name, address and phone number and thereby verify the truth of a listing in Google Places).
So, optimization of your Google Places pages are more important than ever and the monitoring of user reviews is also a major concern as Hotpot users apply comments that are bound to effect a users desire to click your listing and may well effect ranking in the future.
It is not clear yet how a business can make rebuttal comments for negative reviews. Certainly, one must have Google log in to make reviews – so they are not anonymous. Perhaps having your name attached to a review will limit malicious reviews, but who knows.
Certainly, this looks like an attempt by Google to keep up with changes that are being implemented through FaceBook where users will provide reviews and recommendations to their friends.