Google has added highlighting for businesses in Google Maps that ties recommendations made by users through their Google account to others the company thinks match their reviewed locations.
“Starting today, business labels for locations you’ve rated with Google Places will be highlighted on the map with your corresponding rating beneath it. Additional places that our system thinks you might enjoy visiting — either to eat, shop, or more — will be highlighted as well. These personalized recommendations are based on the places and ratings you’ve already shared,” according to Google LatLong.
This move is clever. It reinforces interaction with Google’s reviews, further distancing users from review sites like Yelp.
ReadWriteWeb sees the move as Google trying to dominate local marketing:
“These new features push forward Google’s efforts to be a one-stop-shop for mobile, location-based searches. From finding the restaurant to walking in the door, Google is building applications to compel smartphone users to use Google and only Google to find, shop and eat at local businesses.”
Yelp recently testified at the Senate hearings investigating Google’s possible threat to competition. Yelp founder stated he would not start the company right now as there is no longer a “level playing field.” You have to wonder what he’s saying about this latest feature.
There could be an argument made that Google is slowly moving to a “closed community” like Facebook. Many people have Google as their default home page and the more they add to their products – accessible now from the new black navigation bar – the more people won’t need to go elsewhere.
The new game is going to be working out the algorithm used to select the suggestions Google adds from people’s reviews. When the reviews from Zagat’s – the recent acquisition by Google – will be rolled into the Maps is another question people will be waiting to see answered.