Zagat, the “dining guide” famous for its “quote-laden reviews,” has been integrated into Google+.
A new “Local” tab in Google+ shows nearby places to eat, with Zagat ratings when available. For places that aren’t Zagat-rated, Google+ generates a score from regular user reviews, employing the same 30-point scale that Zagat uses.
Google Places has essentially migrated to the search giant’s social network. You can still look up information on local businesses through Google.com, or through Google Maps, but the actual business pages appear within Google+. On mobile phones, the listings appear within the Google Maps app for Android (and soon for iOS).
From these pages, users can write a review or add photos, and anything that users submit becomes part of their Google+ profiles. Those reviews are then highlighted for friends who visit the same business page in an “activity from your circles” section.
Google bought Zagat in September 2011 as a way to boost local listings through search, after reportedly failing to acquire Yelp in 2009. Before that, Google scraped information from Yelp and other services to supplement its own user reviews, but eventually abandoned the practice. Google’s user review scene still isn’t as vibrant as Yelp’s, but Google probably hopes that social network integration will encourage more reviews.
Still, the local listings in Google+ need to go much further to be as useful as Yelp. There’s currently no way to filter results by rating, price or distance from your location. You can only type in a search term and a location, and even then, there’s no way to sort the results that come up.
For a company that’s supposed to be the king of search, the shortage of search tools seems like a major oversight, and, perhaps, another sign that Google+ has clouded the company’s core purpose.