Google to Use Zagat to Refine Local Search

From a New York Times article, Google to Use Zagat to Refine Local Search, Google bought Zagat last year for $151 million and now has integrated Zagat with a new free service, Google Plus Local, intended to enhance Google’s growing, potentially lucrative local information offerings. Google Plus Local will adopt Zagat’s rating scale and anyone who signs up for Google Plus Local will see Zagat’s reviews and content for free. Zagat reviews and other local information can also be accessed through the Google search engine, Google Plus and Google Maps.

Marissa Mayer, Google’s vice president for local search and maps has said that Google intends to create “pages for all known places”. Ms. Mayer said that 20 percent of all searches in Google are for nearby information and 40 percent for those using mobile phones. Analysts have estimated that local online advertising is a growing market worth $140 billion per year.

After reading this article, I believe Google is betting that since Zagat is a reputable brand when it comes to ratings and reviews, more people will be inclined to use Google Plus Local for researching restaurants, bars, hotels, etc. If that’s the case, Google will have accomplished two things: first is keeping searches on Google and second is getting new and current Google users to use Google Plus, Google’s own social network.

Do you think Google’s strategy of leverging it’s Google Plus brand with Zagat will work? How will other review sites such as Yelp, citySearch, UrbanSpoon, and OpenTable be affected?

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6 thoughts on “Google to Use Zagat to Refine Local Search

  1. I personally do not use Google+ and free Zagat restaurant review content is not going to get me to start using Google+ because other local restaurant reviews are already available for free via services such a Yelp. In addition, as a New Yorker I can turn to the New York Times—Dining & Wine guide online. I feel there are too many other sources to provide the information Zagat does that it won’t be a big enough content platform to draw people to use Google+.

    In addition, for everyone using an Apple iPhone the Zagat/Google+ service may be limited since Apple is expected to replace GoogleMaps with its own map service, which will not feature this experience.

  2. I do not think that adding Zagat will entice more users to Google Plus. Zagat is a reputable resource, but it is also limited in its reviews and not updated very frequently. It is not competition for apps such as UrbanSpoon or Open Table, which cover more restaurants and are updated with openings and closures on a daily basis.

    • I agree I do not think that the incorporation of Zagat will entice people to use Google+. While I feel Zagat does bring value I think they cater more of a business clientele. I value services such as Yelp as they provide a many perspectives based on a number of experiences. You are able to sift through posts in order to form your own opinion. Zagat provides a singular vantage point. Unless Google revamps Zagat to include similar features I see people continuing to use what is working for them now.

  3. I think the concept of tying Google+ and a review based site, like Zagat, is a good idea, however, I don’t think Zagat may have been the right choice. I’ve always associated Zagat with the more affluent, older market who is not really your typical Google+ user. Yelp has always been my “go to” when searching for reviews on certain places/items. I find their site to be user-friendly and the content to be very honest since you can actually see the comments from the yelp members. Zagat, on the other hand, bases their reviews on surveys that people complete. They even offer rewards such as Zagat guides, invitation to special events, and chances to win shopping and dining awards in order to entice people to take their restaurant surveys. Yelp does not have to do this. The Yelp community allows users to share reviews on their site (both good and bad), and what’s great is that you can read this information first-hand as well as look at pics posted by users. I think at the end of the day when people use these review based sites, they ultimately want honest, descriptive, up-to-date information and this is something I don’t think Zagat can offer with their existing business model. Personally speaking, I don’t think this merger will affect other review sites because if you are accustomed to using one of these sites for reviews and it has proved to be successful time and time again, it would be hard to make that switch to another review site, regardless of how easy you tie it into a social network, such as Google+.

  4. This is a terrific opportunity for Google to put down roots locally. Zagat has strong brand equity and is virtually everywhere, two things that the brands have in common. There is a natural synergy between the two brands, but I’m curious to see what’s next. Will these brands partner and develop an online reservations platform like open table? It seems to me like Google is trying to vertically integrate some of its services so instead of simply pulling up the restaurant search results, it will provide reputable ratings and an easy way to reserve a table. What’s next, partnering with a daily deal platform?

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