Google has announced the rollout of a new feature called Google+ Local, allowing users to discover and share local information, including scores from restaurant review site Zagat.
In a company blog post, Google director of product management Avni Shah said Google+ Local, which is available as a new tab in Google+, is integrated into Google Search, Maps and mobile.
“You can search for specific places or browse for ones that fit your mood,” Shah said.
“If you click on a restaurant, or a museum, you’ll be taken to a local Google+ page that includes photos, Zagat scores and summaries, [and] reviews from people you know.”
Zagat, which Google launched in Australia just last week, was started in 1979 by Tim and Nina Zagat as a survey review of New York restaurants.
Since then, it has become one of America’s biggest restaurant review publications. All of Zagat’s scores and summaries are now highlighted on local Google+ pages.
“Each place you see in Google+ Local will now be scored using Zagat’s 30-point scale, which tells you all about the various aspects of a place so you can make the best decisions,” Shah said.
It’s important to note the Google+ Local interface will eventually replace Google Places. But, for now, businesses can still use the same page to update their details.
According to Jim Stewart, chief executive of Stew Art Media, the development should serve as a major wakeup call for businesses that don’t already have a Google+ profile.
“You really need to start putting in profile information now… This is just a huge call for businesses which don’t have their information already set up,” Stewart told SmartCompany.
“The other thing I would expect to see is more social network-related stuff with regard to results.”
“So, for instance, Google will probably introduce a social element telling you which of your friends have gone to [a particular] restaurant.”
According to Stewart, this is a push on Google’s part to emphasise businesses that give more to their customers.
“If you are doing more in this area, then you’re going to see better results in search,” he said.
However, Zagat’s presence on Google+ Local has already copped criticism. In an article for Eater.com, Raphael Brion questioned Zagat’s ability to keep information current.
“Keeping local information up to date – especially restaurants that open, close or change direction with little warning – is very, very difficult,” Brion wrote.
“An army of editors is needed; the data must be updated with vigilance.”
“Unfortunately, a cursory scan of Zagat’s summaries in Google+ Local’s pages reveals that a fair amount of basic information is deeply, deeply flawed.”