Well, we may have just found out why Google reviews and place pages have been acting crazy for the last few months (reviews disappearing and re-appearing, etc.)
Mashable announced that Google unwrapped it’s own new location-based service named “Hotspot” tonight.
“With Hotspot, users will be encouraged to rate and review businesses directly from their Google-linked profile. Users’ ratings and reviews are tracked with a counter at the top of each profile, and likes and dislikes are remembered and used in Google’s recommendation engine.”
I have yet to play with it but from the description – easy to use, simplistic, easy to write reviews – it seems like something non-techy people might get into or, at the very least, utilize when researching businesses – need a place to eat? – while on the go.
Whether the “average” person leaves a bunch of reviews is moot, in my opinion. Reviews will be left in the same manner that they have been on Google. The only difference will be that there will be one more venue with which to leave a review.
The fact that Google is still the dominant way in which most consumers start a business search leans heavily in their favor. Even with Facebook Places’ shadow ever present, in this arena – reviews- Google definitely has the edge.
This development also should encourage business owners to shift reviews back towards Google Place pages, especially if “likes”, “dislikes” and number of reviews left are weighted factors in Google search results as seems to be indicated by this article.
This story is definitely still developing so it’s way too early to foresee any definitive ramifications from this. I can definitely tell you that you should stay tuned, I will be.
Oh, and if anyone has an Android phone, supposedly this is accessible immediately. If you want to check it out and comment back, that would be appreciated!