31 May, 2012

Get ready for Zagat, Melbourne

Never heard of Zagat? Don’t sweat, it is relatively new to Australia. So new in fact, the first ever voting period for Sydney restaurants and Sydney attractions only launched on May 21, 2012.

So what is Zagat?

Zagat is an online review site which combines the opinions of your customers to provide an overall profile of your business if it fit into one of the following categories: restaurant, nightspot, hotel, attractions and other leisure activities.

What makes this review site is different from others is that it combines multiple rankings on a number scales.  It also pulls key phrases which appear on a number of reviewer comments, and it also averages  pricing. A restaurant for example could have four different scores – one each for food, decor, service, and the average bill total.  A hotel would have one rating each for rooms, service, dining and public facilities.

At the time of writing the review sections for Sydney attractions and restaurants are open. In July Zagat will open to Sydney nightlife and shopping as well as Melbourne restaurants and attractions. In November Melbourne shopping reviews will open.

Why is Zagat important to local businesses?

Zagat is a critical source of user reviews Google uses in your local Google places listing. It also impacts what shows on your Google plus page for your business. You may have already noticed Google has combined your Google maps places page with a Google business page and calls it a Google+ Local page.  The new layout puts much more emphasis on photos and reviews.  And the reviews follows along the Zagat scoring lines, with reviews no longer being stars, rather a rating from 0-3.  It also means reviewers are forced to have a Google+ profile.

Google is still rolling out changes,  so how this will work for all local business (especially service-based businesses) is not yet clear.  The good news is, you still manage your account three you Google places dashboard – for now. Google states if you don’t currently have a Google plus page to your business now would be a good time to set one up.  If you already have one, they say to “stay tuned”.

We await with baited breath…