Google and Zagat: A Year Later

A year ago this week, Google acquired the popular restaurant rating site. When that news emerged, we speculated on the impact of Zagat on local SEO and ratings within Google. Most assumed there would be a more seamless integration of data, prominently featuring Zagat content within search results. Let’s take a look at what has happened over the past year:

Ratings are displayed within search results, a bit more prominently than they were a year ago:

If you search for a specific restaurant by name, the expanded results panel on the right side includes two references to Zagat:

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There seems to be some tension between Zagat and Google+ (both new to Google in the last year), as they have overlapping functions. Both include information about the restaurant, a map, photos, and a menu. Both have user-submitted reviews.

Here’s where it gets really odd… If you look at the same restaurant on Zagat and on Google+, only one of them lets you see Zagat reviews without an account… Here’s what it looks like on Zagat.com:

And the same restaurant on Google+:

In the local 7-pack search results, it’s a bit confusing. There is very little differentiation between Zagat ratings and standard G+ ratings:

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Zagat Site Growth?

So, how has this acquisition impacted Zagat’s traffic?

Meh…

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Year-over-year, traffic is actually down slightly, based on Compete.com’s analysis.

Searches for Zagat have stayed flat:

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How does this compare to one of their top competitors, Yelp.com?

Yelp’s traffic has been on the rise:

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Search interest has increased by 23% as well:

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Conclusions?

If Google’s goal was to steal market share from Yelp, that hasn’t worked out so well. If their goal was seamlessly integrate Zagat and Google+ local pages, they’ve come up a bit short there as well. Google search results are benefiting from Zagat data, but Zagat.com certainly isn’t getting any help from Google.

In a nutshell, we’re not completely sure what Google is trying to do with Zagat and Google+. Of course, the same could be said about Google+ as a whole – its strategy and execution invite more questions than they answer.

To make things even more interesting, Google acquired Frommer’s, the popular travel guide. How will they incorporate tourism information into their search engine results? Let the speculation begin…

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3 Comments

  1. Nyagoslav September 14, 2012 at 5:19 am - Reply

    I personally feel Google doesn’t care as much about Zagat or Frommer’s as these brands would deserve. All Google buys and sees in these brands is content, content, content. This is the main thing they lack, and they main reason behind Google+. They tried to obtain review content by pushing Hotpot as hard as they could, they put local agents out there to promote the platform, now they even force the users to get a Google+ account in order to post reviews, thus tying more context together. They still lack greatly behind Yelp. However, having in mind the worsening of Yelp’s reputation, especially among the SMB circles, I’d say Google might have some chances in the long run.

    • Kyle Claypool September 14, 2012 at 7:45 am - Reply

      Thanks for the comment and the great insights. In most cases, I’m a fan of what Google does – I use Android, Google Apps, Google Voice, etc., and love it. In this case, they’re buying up established brands that have been around for decades just for their content. It’s a trend I don’t particularly like to see.

  2. […] It’s been a year since Google has acquired Zagat and we’ve talked at length about the entire Zagat debacle. It seems to keep coming up, if not in relation to Google+ Local, then as a model for other sites. Kyle Claypool of Optimal Worldwide has taken the time to recap Zagat’s growth and how far it’s c… […]

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