Has Zagat Really Made a Difference for Google?

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By now, many have caught on to the fact that Google Places is now the new and improved Google+ Local. This is just one of the many changes that Google has made to help connect search and social. Being able to search locally is key to making Google search results relevant and to helping the search engine seem smaller than it really is. With that said, it was no surprise that Google decided to integrate this idea with Google+, but this integration changed a few things for users and businesses who are concerned with local results:

  • You can use the “local” tab on Google+ to search and see local results.
  • Free Zagat reviews are available for those who are using Google+ Local.
  • You can filter your results based on reviews given by your Google+ connections.

While it came as no surprise that Google integrated local results with the social network, it was a bit of a surprise for many to see Zagat as part of the mix. Big names like Yelp and Amazon have been utilizing reviews very successfully for years, but Google has always been known for choosing the relevant results for you. This then begs the inevitable question, “Have these reviews really made a difference for users and/or businesses?”

Examining Zagat and Google+ Local

It first helps to understand how Zagat reviews work. Zagat allows customers to rate businesses on different categories. For example, someone may want to give a restaurant a 5 for its décor but only a 1 for its food. Zagat will then average all of the reviews and assign a score out of 30 for each category. The following video explains Zagat reviews for those who are unfamiliar with them:

Incorporating Zagat into Google+ Local has its ups and downs. While most agree that offering reviews for different businesses is a good idea, not everyone is thrilled with the Zagat system. It seems great at first glance, but there are a few things that seem to be hurting users:

  1. Restaurants: The scoring system is said to be great for restaurants but not quite as ideal for other businesses. In fact, Zagat began as a tool for reviewing restaurants.
  2. Click-Through Rate: Many businesses have reported that the Zagat reviews, even positive ones, have actually hurt their number of visitors. Many people are not as familiar with a rating system that is based on numbers instead of stars, and it can take a while to build up a large number of reviews, which causes uncertainty for many users.
  3. Overload: The reviews are more complex and detailed, which is good in the eyes of some, but many others seem to want to just click away.

In my opinion, Google made the right decision by working with Zagat. It will take some time to get used to the system, but as a user, I do feel that reviews of any kind are helpful.

Do you find the Zagat reviews helpful? Will you continue to resort to sites like Yelp, or will the new Zagat ratings suffice? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Amanda DiSilvestro

Amanda DiSilvestro

Online Content Editor/Writer at HigherVisibility
Amanda DiSilvestro gives small business and entrepreneurs SEO advice ranging from keyword density to recovering from Panda and Penguin updates. She writes for HigherVisibility, a... Read Full Bio
Amanda DiSilvestro
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  • Brian

    I have not noticed a single recent review in the last several much since the change! Seems like people are far less likely to leave a review. Most of the reviews I have been seeing are all old and from “google user” thus you can’t see who wrote the review!

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      I would have to agree with you. Maybe as this gets more popular people will be more apt to leave a review? I suppose we’ll have to wait and see. Thanks for reading!

  • Gary Darling

    I have yet to see any either. I will test this out tomorrow though. I know of a few business that had reviews before, and I will check to see if the same ones are there or not.

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      I think there definitely ARE businesses will a good amount of these new reviews, but there seem to be more without. Let us know what you find!

  • Alex

    The reported lower click-through-rate for listing is one of the things that interested me the most. It’s not just that people aren’t as familiar with the Zagat system, but that it doesn’t stand out as much visually. When you’re looking at a SERP, a Zagat rating is something like 18/30 with the first number being bold. That just does not stand out as much as the yellow stars did, which contrasted well against the black and blue scheme of standard search results.

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      That’s a really good point. I think that many just discount this system as something that people are unfamiliar with, but it could just be the fact that it’s unappealing in its very nature.

  • Linda Gilmore

    Speaking strictly as a consumer, I think this might be a mis-step for Google, simply because I am being forced to engage in yet another social network in order to leave a review. As cool as any individual network is, there is probably an upper limit to the number that you can actually engage with. If you are already active on, say FB, LinkedIn and Pinterest, how excited are you to add another, just in order to rate a restaurant

  • Frank

    Hmmm… Having been a traveling consultant who spent 70% of my time on the road (in large cities and often a different one every other week) and eating out every meal, Zagat and the app Zagat To Go app were mandatory for me to find excellent meals without fail. When Google bought Zagat (I use a lot of Google and don’t mean to slam them in general) I thought oh no Zagat is done for… Google+ Local includes the legacy Zagat ratings but the execution is haphazard and seems an afterthought (no easy way to sort by ratings, neighborhood/location) – bummer. I also use Yelp, AroundMe and Where and while they are useful at times and have more range than just restaurants, they have always been more “pedestrian” and less useful to ensure consistently excellent food for someone on the road. Thankfully I am able to work remote (from home) for most of my clients now or the loss of Zagat To Go would be more devastating… #theothersideoftheargument

    • Amanda DiSilvestro

      Definitely some great points. I wrote this article about 7 months ago and I actually might be starting to sway a little bit more towards your argument. The ratings still aren’t as popular as Yelp in my opinion, but they’re gaining speed faster than I would have assumed! Thanks for reading!