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Google buys Zagat, finds better restaurants

Google has bought a restaurant guide company, to improve its local business listings. Local eateries and hungry people rejoice.

Expect the listings in Google Places to get a whole lot better in the coming months. Google has just bought Zagat, the company that started with pocket-sized restaurant guides way back in 1979. So what does that mean for you? Don a napkin and let's tuck in.

Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of local, maps and location services, wrote on the company's official blog that Zagat would play a large part in Google's location-based services. "Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering," she wrote, praising its range of reviews around the world.

How much Google paid for Zagat wasn't revealed, but we're guessing it was closer to Michelin Star than Happy Eater.

Founded by Tim and Nina Zagat 32 years ago, Zagat operates in 13 countries (including the UK) and more than 100 cities, featuring reviews from 350,000 users. "Their iconic pocket-sized guides with paragraphs summarising and 'snippeting' sentiment were 'mobile' before 'mobile' involved electronics," as Mayer put it.

As well as restaurants, Zagat features reviews of hotels, shops and bars, with the reviews migrating online in recent years.

Google Places has user-generated reviews too, but not anywhere near the same number as Yelp or Zagat. 

The couple who started Zagat plan to remain involved in the business. "We couldn't be happier to see our baby placed into such good hands and are looking forward to being Googlers in the years ahead," they wrote on their website. The company has already partnered with Facebook and Foursquare, so it's no stranger to the tech tides.

Earlier in the year, Google Places was criticised for using Yelp reviews without attribution, so this could well be a move to right that wrong. That followed Google's failed attempt to buy Yelp for $500m. Zagat will give Google an established and trusted brand name, as well a huge database of reviews. So while it may not have got its first choice, the replacement dish still looks pretty appetising.