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Google Adds Hotpot Recommendations to Regular Search Results
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Google announced that it is now adding results from Hotpot right in regular Google.com search results (with the local Google Places results it’s already putting there). 

If you’re not familiar with Hotpot, launched late last year, this video pretty much sums it up:

Getting More From Your Google Place Page
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I write a fair amount about local search because it’s an important topic that’s only going to become more important as millions upon millions of folks move over to smart phones to do their browsing and shopping.

Will Local B2B Be the Next Web Trend?
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Most of you would probably agree that local is one of the biggest trends on the web these days, fueled by a variety of factors: increased mobile and smartphone usage, localized deals services (like Groupon), and of course search. Local is a major focus of Google right now, as evidenced by an increasing number of local results being returned for queries, as well as products like Google Places, Hotpot and Google Offers. 

Layar Lends Augmented Reality Technology to Any iPhone App

Augmented reality app provider Layar made a very interesting announcement today – it’s making its AR technology available for all iPhone apps. In other words, expect to see a lot more innovative AR-related features in a lot of apps. 

This extension of AR tech comes in the form of Layar’s Layar Player (now out of beta). It’s available to all agencies, brands, and developers to use to include AR (for free, no less) in their iPhone apps. 

Foursquare Grows By 3,400% – Are You Part Of It?

Foursquare grew by 3,400% in 2010, according to the company, with total check-ins reaching 381,576,305 around the world (in every country) – plus one from outer space, when an astronaut checked in from the International Space Station in October.  It has 6 million users.

Google Gives Small Businesses A Bunch of Free Resources, $100K in Ad Spend
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This year, Google says it is going to "help businesses, great and small, get the most out of the Internet." The company has selected five small businesses from different areas and given them $100,000 in AdWords spend for the year, along with free consultations with AdWords reps, and free wireless service for the year.

But that’s not all. They gave the businesses brand new laptops and smartphones,  free "green" environmental consulting, a year of free accounting and financial services, and a free webmaster.

If You’re Not Local, How Can You Compete in an Increasingly Local Google?
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Update: Looks like there is likely to be a lot more local action coming Google’s way soon. 

Google Lets You Search with Local Recommendations From Specific Friends

Google announced a new Google Maps feature today, related to the company’s recently launched Hotpot social recommendation product. Now, users can search Google Maps, and request results based on the recommendations of specific friends. 

Groupon Talks Managing Capacity, Following Japan Apology

As previously reported, Groupon has apologized for a recent deal gone bad in Tokyo. In the apology, CEO Andrew Mason mentioned that Groupon has "capacity planning formulas" to help merchants figure out the number of customers they can handle from a Groupon deal. As you may know, a common complaint about Groupon is that it can send too many people to a business, which does not have the means to meet customer demand.

Google Places with Hotpot App Released for iPhone

Google has launched Google Places with Hotpot for the iPhone. Given the iPhone’s pending availability to Verizon customers, this should provide a huge boost in use for Google’s recently launched local offering. Google Places with Hotpot has been available in Google Maps for Android, but now it’s a standalone iPhone app too. 

Foursquare Users to Get Tips on Nearby Businesses

Foursquare and Examiner.com have teamed up to bring local Examiner content to Fousquare users via Fousquare’s website and mobile apps. This content will consist of tips or "insight and recommendations on nearby venues, restaurants, events, businesses and landmarks" from Examiner’s 68,000 contributors in 233 U.S. cities. 

Super Bowl Pre-Game Will Reportedly Feature Groupon Ads
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If Groupon’s not already a household name, it may be soon. According to AdAge, the company is getting ready for some big time TV advertising, starting with spots during the Super Bowl pre-game show (the Super Bowl itself was already sold out). 

Tasks That Should Be On Your Local Search Shortlist
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Recently, I have been talking about local Internet marketing and the rapid developments in the area. Well, as we start 2011, there is a strange sound in the local Internet marketing space—silence. There is a temporary lull in the frantic pace of change and innovation in the Google local search results.

Can You Have An Effective Online Presence Without Your Own Site?
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Do you need a website to run a successful business these days? In years past, the answer would have seemed to be: almost certainly. Granted, not all businesses operate the same way, and businesses thrived for centuries before websites even existed, but if you don’t have on online presence, you are missing heaps of opportunity. That much is clear.

Google: We Already Have Groupon-Like Products
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Google’s Marissa Mayer recently made the switch from the company’s VP of search products to focusing on the company’s geo and local products.

Top Searches Will Be Influenced By Changes in Search Habits, APIs
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Tired of top ten of 2010 lists yet? Me too. We’re 4 days into 2011 now. Enough is enough. Yahoo got the memo, as now it is looking back on the past decade in search beginning with 2001, and looking at how much has changed (and how much hasn’t). 

Will You Be Paying Restaurant Checks with Google This Year?

Google may launch a mobile payments service as early as this year, according to a report from Bloomberg BusinessWeek. This would be based upon NFC (near field communication) technology, which lets mobile device exchange data at close ranges. 

Bing Launches Destination Pages for Cities

Bing has launched “Destination Pages” for city searches. If you go to a city’s page, you will find information about events, weather, flights, news, etc. related to that city.  You can find them by simply searching on Bing for a city and clicking the "Destinations" tab. 

Why 2011 Will Be a Huge Year for SMBs
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I am declaring 2011 the Year of the Online SMB.

For the uninitiated, SMBs are small and medium businesses. They are the Holy Grail for business service providers because there are so darn many of them. They account for around 95% of the businesses in the US. (Either that or they supply 95% of the jobs but either way, it’s pretty impressive.) I like the definition of an SMB being under 100 employees, but up to 500 employees can be deemed an SMB also. There are no hard and fast criteria for determining SMB status but we all know one when we see one.

Groupon: We’re the Savior for Small Businesses
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Legend has it that Groupon turned down a $6 billion offer from Google, which if accepted would have been Google’s biggest acquisition to date. Time will tell if this was a smart move or not, but Andrew Mason, Groupon’s CEO seems fairly confident in the company’s future.

The Daily Deals Industry in 2011

The daily deals industry is an exciting space to watch right now, as evidenced by Google’s recent $6 Billion offer to buy Groupon, Amazon’s $175 million investment in LivingSoical, Facebook’s recent launch of Facebook Deals, and all of the other competitors looking for a pie