Google has acquired Zagat.com – a local restaurant review site – and this acquisition indicates that Google are getting ever more serious about local search.
Zagat is not a start up but has reinvented itself for the Web after originally being a print based review platform. Looking at the stats – 350,000 reviewers, 100 countries, mobile, web and print presence, 32 years in the business – you can see why it would be an attractive buy for Google.
The reviews for the UK are quite sparse, although London is reasonably well-covered, and it is obvious that Google’s acquisition will mean the site gains considerable coverage and probably inclusion into the SERPs in some way. There have been plenty of intimations that reviews will play a far greater part in rankings, and adding additional value to the +1 button by linking to reviews on Zagat would seem like a good move for eateries and drinking establishments who understand search marketing.
Recently, whilst visiting hostelries and the like, it has become obvious that more and more are realising the value of online reviews and mentions. Foursquare stickers in windows and offers to the mayor, fliers on the bar encouraging reviews and offering rewards for doing so, and now services such as Urbanspoon.com have linked up with Zagat too.
For all restaurants, cafes, pubs, bars, fine dining, eateries and drinkeries of all sorts, online reviews are very important, and becoming ever more so now Google is involved.