Is Google Going Cold on Zagat?
Reviews are big business. A study conducted by the University of California, Berkeley earlier this year found that a half point increase in average rating on a 5 point scale can increase the chances of a restaurant selling their tables by 20%. What's more, 64% of people that search for a restaurant on their smart phone end up booking within the hour.
So making sure you have both a presence on local search and a strong set of reviews is critical for any local business.
Google have been at the forefront of the local search sector with their Google Local service. Central to that has been the Zagat review system that they purchased a few years ago.
It seems however that Google are slowly phasing out Zagat as their review system of choice. They state in an official post on Google+ that review authors no longer have to use the Zagat scoring system in their reviews. You can see the new interface below.
It's an attempt by Google to simplify the review system but nonetheless marks a big shift by Google away from the system they had previously invested so much into.
In its announcement, Google says “…we’ll convert your ratings into numbers and factor them into the business’ precise 30-point score that shows up in Google+, Search and Maps.”
It begs the question of whether the Zagat review system is in the process of being phased out all together with a move towards a more familiar five star rating system.
The news follows developments at Restaurant.com who have implemented a diner authentication service to ensure that any reviews left on their site, are only left by actual diners. It follows a report by Forbes earlier this year that suggested that by 2014, 14% of reviews will be fake.