Google’s Hotpot Changing Your Search Results

Posted on November 18, 2010 in Search Engine Optimization, VSEO

Sara Beaudoin is the Marketing Communications Manager for SearchPro Systems

Google has yet again, rolled out another new application, called Hotpot.  Hotpot combines local search with personalized search, as well as social search.  The goal is of course, to show users the most relevant results possible, as well as to decrease their search time.  The added benefit to Hotpot is that users will be shown recommended results.  Now, this may actually affect SEO for a number of reasons.

First, Google will show users local results, so as long as you have your Google Places information in order for your business, you will be in a good position to show up in a relevant search.  Hotpot encourages users to rate different businesses, based on past experiences with them, and based on those ratings, Google learns your likes and dislikes and then shows you results it believes you will also like.  Just like Netflix, the more ratings you provide, the more accurate Google’s suggestions will be.

Hotpot incorporates a social aspect by encouraging you to add friends, and you can send an e-mail suggestion to any of your friends or family members, suggesting that they 1. create a Google account (gmail, Google Docs, YouTube, etc.) if they don’t have one already, and 2. add you as a friend. Afterwards, you can see your friend’s ratings, and Google will tailor your search results to show you businesses both you and your friends rated highly.  The benefit is obvious.  When searching for a trustworthy landscaping company, who’s suggestion would you trust the most?  The business’s or your friend’s?

Now, therein lies the problem for SEO.  Results will no longer have a good, old fashioned, organic ranking, based on keyword relevance, number of clicks, etc.  Results will be based on personal ratings and friend recommendations.  If your business ranks third in a Google search for Cabinetry, and your biggest competitor ranks 13th, you should be pleased with that.  However, a user could now search for cabinetry, and see your competitor’s listing in the number one position if several of their friends gave your competitor high ratings.  So your goal now is to ensure that your customers will give you high ratings and encourage them to do so.  Even promoting Google’s Hotpot to them may be an efficient way to increase your referral base.

Don’t worry too much yet though.  Hotpot won’t make the slightest bit of difference if users don’t use it, and not everyone has a Google account, and people may not be willing to create one just to access Hotpot.  It’s very possible that Hotpot won’t catch on at all, but in case it does, make sure you’re prepared to reap the benefits!