The search juggernaut Google announced today that it had acquired Zagat, the restaurant ratings company. Zagat has built a reputation over the past three decades for its 30-point rating system and handy guide books. In their announcement, Google praises Zagat as being “’mobile’ before ‘mobile’ involved electronics,” and a forerunner of user-generated content.
In their announcement, Google says that Zagat ratings will become foundational to their local search offerings. This is likely to include Google’s somewhat maligned Places ratings and recommendation service. It’s almost certain that we’ll also be seeing Zagat reviews in Google Maps, which has offered sparse user ratings for years.
The acquisition of Zagat is a reminder that, behind the scenes, Google is fighting a shadow war with sites like Yelp, Facebook, and Foursquare. These companies, and others, are all competing to supply you, the user, with aggregated reviews of nearby businesses. Given GMap’s ubiquity, coupling it with a trusted review source like Zagat could give them an edge and maybe knock the Yelpers down a peg.
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org