The search engine giant just announced that it has purchased the rating site Zagat for an unnamed sum. Zagat will continue to operate as a stand-alone business and it might also have an influence on Google’s local sales offerings. Google has more detail:
With Zagat, Google gains a world-class team that has more experience in consumer based-surveys, recommendations and reviews than anyone else in the industry. Founded by Tim and Nina Zagat more than 32 years ago, Zagat has established a trusted and well-loved brand the world over, operating in 13 categories and more than 100 cities. The Zagats have demonstrated their ability to innovate and to do so with tremendous insight. Their surveys may be one of the earliest forms of UGC (user-generated content)—gathering restaurant recommendations from friends, computing and distributing ratings before the Internet as we know it today even existed.
While I’m sure Zagat is worth buying for its own sake, there is also a good chance that Google bought it because location based deals are really hot right now and Zagat’s archive of past ratings, its business relationships, and its widely known brand name will give Google a leg up on its competition (Yelp, Groupon, and so on). And yes, I think Google could be planning to use Zagat to compete both with the deals site Groupon and the ratings site Yelp.