Google Maps + Reviews = Killer

Google Maps continues to unveil features that position it as an indispensable source for all things on maps. Google Latlong is the corporate blog source that describes two new Map features:
  1. Register your local business into Google's Local Business Center
  2. Add reviews to businesses (restaurants, auto mechanics, etc.) on Google Maps

The reviews are Google's critical component to dominating this space, most prominently held by Yelp. Almost all of the Google reviews for my neighborhood restaurants list Yelp reviews, along with other review sites like Citysearch and Gayot. Clicking on these review results direct me to Yelp or the original site.

So... I don't have to bookmark Yelp any more to find a restaurant, my Google Maps page will find one, and one click will get me a Yelp review.

This is profound. Google Map's positioning strategy is to be the first stop for any search item that requires a map. And maps are critical to the real estate search process.

Here are a few sample implications: Google can implement reviews within their Google Base product for home listings and suddenly have a Zillow Home Q&A like product. Google can partner with an AVM data provider like Cyberhomes or eppraisal and launch its own AVM on its maps. It's conceivable that consumers may begin to use Google MyMaps to track houses over a typical real estate listings site or Zillow because they will adopt MyMaps as their map search engine in the same way they are adopting as their generic search engine.

"Google Reviews" could actually be a product... but it was launched quite nonchalantly inside Google Maps with seeming little fanfare. One of the review sites, Qype, noticed what Google is up to: Never Compete Head-to-Head with Google.

Related articles:

Each iteration Google Maps makes threatens a whole new category of mashups... Google's MyMaps gives Platial and Plazes a run...

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  • 6/25/2007 2:59 AM Isabelle wrote:
    I think you are missing a fundamental aspect of Yelp: it's not just about reviews or listings of places, it's about creating local communities. In Europe Qype is also about reviews and communities, and although we are watching Google's new products, we believe it is unlikely that they will invest in the development of communities. It would anyway be rather reckless for Qype to compete head to head with Google; the key, as always, is in clear differentiation
    Reply to this
    1. 6/25/2007 6:40 AM Pat Kitano wrote:
      I agree with you... Google surely understands the power of the community around user-generated reviews... anyone can submit a business or restaurant review at Google Maps as well. The point I'm trying to make is Google Maps is positioning themselves as one more gateway (and a powerful one at that) to Yelp/Qype PLUS developing a Yelp-like community at the same time.

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  • 6/25/2007 7:57 AM Alex Mather wrote:
    Google will gather lots and lots of reviews from lots and lots of people very quickly. Further, Google reviews will get more traffic than Yelp reviews, BUT Google will not eat at all into Yelp's community. Yelp has brilliantly created a niche network of young people in metro areas who LOVE the site. Who LOVE to write and read reviews.

    Free Elite parties help but the real draw of Yelp is what Isabelle said: the community. I write a review and cant wait for my friends to tell me how funny or cool I am. I cant wait to be the FIRST to review a new bar or restaurant. Google will never capture FUN (and massage my ego) the way Yelp can.

    I do agree that Google will make it easier to quickly find reviews but I'd rather read reviews from my friends or respected Yelpers and I'm MUCH more likely to write reviews on Yelp.
    Reply to this

  • 6/25/2007 1:36 PM Kyle Else wrote:
    Google Maps + Reviews = Google Base MLS
    Reply to this

  • 6/26/2007 9:57 AM Agent Scoreboard wrote:
    Its really interesting how yelp and google position their ratings, yelp is a community built around rating things and google is just a map that has ratings. Google will never usurp yelp from its community, that community has already very versed in the ways of "puffery" and "false reviews". However, they are both going to have to figure out how to get credible reviews that are fair to both the reviewer and the reviewee. It can't be that anyone anywhere with any axe to grind can pound out 30 negative reviews under different or anonymous aliases. You won't attract the much needed business revenue ad $$.. Google is missing the boat completely and their reviews will be dismissed by the general public as non-credible, it will be too late before they can fix it.
    Reply to this
    1. 6/26/2007 11:06 PM Pat Kitano wrote:
      AgentX, I generally agree with your viewpoints... your last sentence about Google's reviews being non-credible seems off the mark... people use their google applications like gmail, docs, maps and reader quite seriously and I wouldn't expect google to be filled with frivolous reviews from loyal users of the google product portfolio. Yes, aliases can register, but they can also do so on yelp. I see google easily begin credible in the community space, independent of yelp and other communities. Google's killer app is its ability to also direct traffic to other community sites via search... Google accounts for 40% of Transparent's traffic, and I would assume it would be similar for yelp... that first user stop is a pretty powerful position that can eat into yelp traffic when their reviews gain critical inertia.

      Disclosure - I'm not a Google advocate, in fact as someone who graduated from Berkeley, I have this ingrained wariness about potential power brokers. I see Google as insinuating itself into a lot of different business models. It works because all their products work together as a suite with the search function acting as the "portal".

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