Google buys Zagat, enters original content biz

The 2008 Zagat, New York's leading food guide, is on display for its first day on sale at a book store in New York, 10 October 2007. Zagat, which on average sells some 650,000 copies of its yearly food guide, surveyed some 2,070 restaurants, using 34,678 frequent diners as its judges, to give this year its Top Food Rating to seven restaurants. Zagat's French competitor, the Michelin New York, which sold some 135,000 copies in 2006, has awarded three restaurants it's top three-star rating, restaurants which are also part of Zagat's top seven. AFP PHOTO/Emmanuel DUNAND (Photo credit should read EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/Getty Images)

Google on Thursday acquired Zagat in an effort to bolster its local products with the restaurant rating service. More notably is that Zagat is a content company.

In a blog post, Google said that Zagat will “be a cornerstone of our local offering.” Zagat is best known for its original reviews and rating service.

There are two key elements to the Zagat purchase:

  • First, Google will build out its local coverage and have reviews in more than 100 cities.
  • Second, Google is showing that it may actually have to own some content instead of merely aggregating it.

Earlier this year, Google ran afoul of Yelp. Yelp argued that Google was importing its user reviews on the Google Places page and not providing any link love. Google later removed external links from its Places page. The Federal Trade Commission is also poking around Google’s actions and whether it favors its own sites over others.

With that backdrop, Google’s move to buy Zagat makes sense. Zagat’s will boost Google’s local coverage by providing:

  • User surveys.
  • Recommendations and ratings.
  • Guides that can be aggregated into Google services and maps.

Last year, Google was rumored to be in talks with Yelp. Now it appears that Google is going for old school content brand names.

  • Larry Dignan

    Larry Dignan is editor in chief of ZDNet and editorial director of CNET's TechRepublic. He has covered the technology and financial-services industries since 1995.