Google Acquires Zagat

Restaurant reviews coming to a search engine near you

In a rather “shocking announcement “today, Google announced it’s acquisition of Zagat. Most restaurant-goers are familiar with the “burgundy guides” that have used “crowd-sourced reviews” for more than 30-years. Gathering “quotable quips” and “relevant observations” from a vast network of reviewers (usually paid in Zagat guides), the wide-ranging reviews include scores for food, decor and service.

In fact, Zagat sees its “analog-era” reviewing techniques in line with Google’s algorithmic approach to collecting information. Not to mention it’s a huge step toward Google owning credible content rather than just “indexing it”.

Long-trusted by actual, uh, people who go to restaurants the news of Zagat’s link to Google was almost immediately called a “Yelp Killer” and has been hailed as a “smart move on both sides”. A major foray into the “local business market”, Zagat reviews will get top billing in Google’s local search, certainly displacing Yelp and OpenTable, which have dominated the space. Zagat’s “ready-built stockpile of reviews” make this a “strong acquisition”.

In 2009, Google was reportedly in talks to buy Yelp for as much as half a billion dollars, but the deal fell through. In addition to restaurant reviews, Zagat also provides bar, hotel and store reviews.

What’s your take on the purchase? Good news or yet another reason to run screaming into the woods?