Last week, Google announced the launch of Google+ Local. This new service is an improved interface to help users locate businesses and find reviews.
Google acquired Zagat’s reviews and ratings in September of 2011. Since 1979, Zagat has been the premier source of restaurant reviews. Combining this information with reviews for Google+ users, Google hopes to solidify its position as the dominant platform used by travelers to find dining and entertainment venues.
Zagat’s reviews are based on a 30-point scale giving individual scores for food, decor, service and price. After Google’s acquisition, price has been changed to an estimate of a typical meal’s cost. Zagat reviews have always featured a unique commentary based on a aggregation of reviews sent in by customers, and these reviews are presented with Google’s new service.
Users can rate a restaurant’s food, decor and service on a three-point scale and leave comments. By ensuring that reviewers are Google+ members and implementing techniques to detect fraudulent activity, Google hopes to avoid “astroturfing” common to other review platforms.
Google+ Local currently focuses on restaurant reviews; other types of businesses are only rated with an “overall” score. But Google intends to expand the service in the future and will allow more descriptive metrics to be employed.
Aggregating reviews are not new for Google; Google Places, featuring 5-star ratings from users incorporated into Google Maps and search results, has been the leading source for restaurant reviews. These reviews will be moved to Google+ Local.
Even those who do not use Google+ will see these reviews and recommendations mixed with other Google services. Google’s Maps and search results will also incorporate this information, so those using Google Maps as a GPS interface will have easy access to this information. While access to full Zagat reviews require that the user be member of Google+, user reviews and aggregate ratings are available to everyone.
*Image provided by Google