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Cameron Prockiw is the Big Cheese at Vovia and has helped top companies around the world use the internet more effectively for over 20 years. Cam also enjoys traveling, experiencing different cultures, and unsurprisingly, cheese.

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Google Hotpot Brings More Focus on Local Search

hotspotGoogle recently unveiled “Google Hotpot”, a platform that allows people to easily review local businesses ,somewhat similar to Yelp.However, unlike Yelp, Hotpot is also tightly integrated into Google’s search results so these reviews may have additional impact.

Users log into Hotpot using a Google account and can quickly search for, rate and review businesses within one easy interface. One can also add friends and view their reviews and recommendations. The process is simple, fun – and surprisingly addictive.

Once you’ve reviewed a few businesses, Hotpot will suggest new places you might like based on your previous ratings. Hotpot will also suggest places and businesses based on what your friends have recommended.

When it comes to search engines, reviews and rankings made in Hotpot will customize results shown in Google Maps and Google Place search whenever you’re logged in, including on your mobile phone. There have also been hints from Google that Hotpot reviews will influence your site’s rankings for local searches for even those not logged in to Hotpot. The better (and more numerous) your business’ reviews, the more likely people will choose you over your competitors and the better your chances of outranking competitors in localised and personalised search engine results.

What also makes Hotpot potent for businesses is that these ratings and reviews appear alongside your business’ local listings. These listings are highly visible in search engine results and are often the first impression your business will make to potential customers.

A recent study showed 90% of people trusted product/service reviews from people they knew. The same study showed over 70% trusted reviews posted online by strangers! Understanding this, it’s easy to imagine that encouraging customers to leave favourable reviews and ratings can translate into more traffic to your website and more business through your door!

Check out Hotpot for yourself at http://www.google.com/hotpot