Chances are that if you want to rate a local business, you will first go to Yelp and similar services. Google, however, has been steadily working on adding its own ratings services to its portfolio. The oddly named Google Hotpot – which is now deeply integrated into Google Places – is Google’s most direct Yelp competitor. Starting today, Google Places users will get better access to their rating there, as well as the ability to import any GeoRSS feed from other services like Foursquare to their Hotpot/Google Places profile. In addition, users can also grab a feed of their Google Places rating and import it elsewhere.
It’s hard to estimate just exactly how successful (or not) Google Hotpot, the company’s recently launched Yelp competitor, really is. Thanks to its integration with Google Maps and Google Places, it’s likely more popular than Google Buzz, though, and judging from the increase in ratings from Google users we’ve seen on Google Places lately, it’s probably working out well for Google. The company wants more publicity for Hotpot, however. Starting today, Google also lets you syndicate your ratings for local businesses from the Google Maps Android app to Twitter, marking this one of the first times that Google has enlisted Twitter in its tools to not just pull in information but also to syndicate it out.
Google Places, Google’s database of local businesses that is tightly integrated into Google Maps, just arrived on the iPhone in the form of a stand-alone application. This app also includes support for Hotpot, the company’s social review and recommendation service that is taking up the fight against incumbents like Yelp and CitySearch. Android users already had access to this feature since November 2010.