Content, Hyperlocal|September 8, 2011| Author: Kim LaCapria|Tags: ,

Google Targets Yelp, OpenTable With Zagat Purchase

google zagats

Until the web came along and popularized local restaurant review outfits like Yelp and OpenTable, Zagat was the source for finding out whether an unexplored establishment might or might not have been worth the trip.

But Zagat’s transition to a market with access to websites freely offering the information was rocky at best, as the site featured a rather limiting paywall protecting its well-regarded reviews. Accessing the extensive database was not as straightforward as with competitors’ interfaces, and the expense to users inhibited the site’s growth. Back in 2008, Zagat attempted to sell itself before deciding to take the company off the market in the absence of interested buyers in order to focus on a “more organic growth strategy.”

Google announced the acquisition in a blog post, and neither the search giant nor Zagat disclosed the deal’s terms. The Zagat purchase is part of a strategy for Google to beef up its local offerings, and should greatly enhance the anemic venue information currently available through branded properties like Google Maps.

In the post, Google points to Tim and Nina Zagat’s prescience in the hyperlocal market:

The Zagats have demonstrated their ability to innovate and to do so with tremendous insight. Their surveys may be one of the earliest forms of UGC (user-generated content)—gathering restaurant recommendations from friends, computing and distributing ratings before the Internet as we know it today even existed. Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarizing and “snippeting” sentiment were “mobile” before “mobile” involved electronics.

While Zagat reviews will supplement Google Places, the pay site will remain for the time being. (Below, obligatory for the youngins who don’t know Zagat or 90s SNL all that well.)