Google announced this morning that the company has acquired Zagat, the longtime provider of local ratings and reviews.
This is a big surprise, but fits well with Google’s local search strategy – focused on outright domination, by owning more local content than anyone else. For a sampling of their other recent activities:
- Google Moves To Cement Its Place In Local
- Google Revamps Place Pages, Minimizing 3rd Party Reviews
- Google Places is Focused on Photos: What’s That Mean For You?
- Google to Collect More Content For Places With an Update to Maps for Android
- The Dealmap Acquired by Google
Moving forward, Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering—delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world.
It will be interesting to see what exactly happens to Zagat. I’m not sure if Google is really interested in the company as a business, or if they simply plan to put all the reviews in Google Places for free, and gut Zagat’s traditional paid offerings.
Either way, it’s almost certain Zagat will be used to beef up Google Places with more high quality, trusted ratings/reviews. Combining Google’s willingness to purchase this type of content with their natural position as the place to go for search (and hence upload pictures and rate businesses) it will be hard for the other local sites to keep up with Places’ rapid growth – despite any problems with Google Places.