Zagat, a review website for restaurants and nightlife in nine cities, has recently received a completely redesigned website and new mobile app from Google, who bought the site in 2011. In addition to the renovation, Zagat is now a free service. Google has also expanded Google Maps and shut down the Google+ Local App, likely to eliminate overlap between the three. This appears to be a first step in redesigning Zagat to make it a major competitor with similar sites, particularly Yelp and Foursquare.
New Features for Mobile & Desktop
Most notably, Zagat now has entirely new mobile apps for Android and iOS, as well as a complementary new website. In addition, Zagat is available without user registration and completely free of charge, a huge difference from the prior, paid incarnation of the site. Google also plans to enhance the content available on Zagat from just user reviews to curated lists, news, and videos from expert local editors. Furthermore, the new Zagat has a better search function, enables map-based browsing, and will eventually list menus and allow users to make reservations through Open Table.
Closure of Google+ Local App
In addition to expanding Zagat, Google has announced the closure of the Google+ Local app on iOS for August 7th. Google Maps has also recently been expanded to cover most of the features of the Google+ Local app. In addition to the new and improved Zagat, these three services would have had a lot of overlap. It appears that Google has chosen to focus specific attention on improving the capabilities of Zagat rather than other services.
Plans for Future Expansion
While Zagat is only available in 9 U.S. cities, which include Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Austin, Texas, Google plans to expand Zagat to 50 cities in both the U.S. and other countries in the next few months. They will also add listings beyond restaurants and nightlife, including hotels and shopping.
The new features, listings, and content on Zagat will make it a major competitor with Yelp and Foursquare in the race to become the best service for finding local destinations across the U.S. This means that small businesses should look into joining Zagat as soon as it becomes available in their city, in order to cover all of their bases for local marketing tools.
Is your business listed on Zagat? If Zagat is already operating in your city, what are you waiting for?
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