Google today announced that it will start personalizing your Google Maps experience with your ratings and personalized recommendations. For now, Google is keeping these new features very subtle. Indeed, unless you look very closely, you may just overlook the new symbols. Places you have already rated will now appear with a number of dots underneath their respective symbols, corresponding to the star rating you gave them. Recommended places now feature a slight orange glow around their symbols.
Here is what the new symbols look like:
For Google, of course, this is yet another way to get people to actually rate restaurants, shops and other local businesses in the first place. Unlike services like Yelp, few people explicitly come to Google Maps to leave reviews. The company’s place pages have increased the emphasis of reviewing businesses over time, though, and while most reviews on Google Maps and Place Pages are still aggregated from third parties, the number of native reviews seems to be going up now.
With Google Places, the company tried to get its users to leaving more reviews (and hence feed Google’s algorithms with more data), though I doubt most consumers are even aware of this service.
In an effort to bolster its recommendation services, Google also acquired Zagat earlier this year, though we haven’t seen any integration of Zagat’s ratings into Google’s own products yet.