Want the best chocolate croissant in Las Vegas? Google can now tell you what your best friend would say. The Internet titan has created a social network of personalized, local recommendations on restaurants, bakeries and stores for its Google Search -- and will likely obliterate user-generated content sites like Yelp.
The search behemoth is using Hotpot, a local recommendation engine on Google Places that it developed last year. Hotpot takes reviews and recommendations on all kinds of businesses and places, and is now integrated it into Google's everyday search, Lior Ron, a Google product manager, wrote on the Official Google Blog.
Now when someone looks for, let's say, a Thai bistro in San Francisco -- Google's search engine will come up with a plethora of recommendations for Thai restaurants from friends and others "based on your tastes" (I suspect paid advertisers) for a user to choose from. However, both the user and his or her friends would have to be signed up with Hotpot to create this wealth of information.
Seeing place recommendations based on your tastes and those of your friends across more Google searches will make results more relevant to you and maybe lead you to discover a new gem. If you don’t have Hotpot friends yet, you can invite them to share all the places they love with you by using the “Friends” tab on google.com/hotpot.
To give the whole process an international flair, Google is also opening it up to 38 languages across the globe (from Bulgarian to Thai.)
Either way, this signals bad news for Yelp, the recommendation site that thrives off of user-generated content. It walked away from a $500 million offer from Google in 2009 and now faces its biggest competition -- Google. Armed with a powerful search presence, Google could have always easily eclipsed Yelp. But now with increased user content on Google's Hotpot, it can now defeat the local reviews website fair and square. How sweet is that revenge, Google?