Tuesday, January 24, 2012

What Google’s Acquisition of Zagat Means for Your Small Business

For months, Google has been telling everyone that local is going to be huge. With that in mind, Google purchased Zagat (a local restaurant review and group deals site) in September 2011. The acquisition helps Google provide some trusted review content and deals for their search users in their local region. By integrating Zagat content into Google search results, they offer a better experience for users, including a great offline presence that they can build off of. But, what does this acquisition mean for your business?

Local marketing is the new space

One thing that Google has noticed is that consumers are looking for search results that are related to their region. So, instead of providing general search results that are not relevant, it’s providing more results related to the city you live in (for example: “electricians in Toronto”). 

This has created a need for small businesses to optimize their website for local searches, targeting prospects for specific keywords related to their expertise and location. With the Google Panda update, search results have become more accurate, where businesses can target their prospects more accurately making SEO extremely important.   

Local reviews have become key to building credibility

Zagat offers small businesses the opportunity to build their credibility through customer reviews. Simply put, the more reviews a business obtains, the higher in the search results that it ranks, resulting in higher visibility.  

With more importance being put in a customer review, small businesses must account for integrating reviews as part of their online search strategy. So what should businesses do to take advantage of the newer local marketing trend? They can do the following:

·         Integrate Google Places page as part of their marketing strategy:  Make sure that you’re listed in Google Places, and are optimized with the proper keywords. 

·         Create a customer review strategy: With the mix of social media and search, businesses must now be hyper-aware of customer reviews in all spots from social media sites to directories. Your strategy must include how to deal with negative reviews.

Is mobile the new battleground?

The acquisition of Zagat has provided a Google a way to provide much deeper results for their Google Places, making them more competitive and providing a better user experience for both business clients and users.  

Most importantly, it has allowed Google to provide a great value for mobile search users through its Android apps and integrate Zagat / Google Places results into Google Map results. The best place for these results would be in mobile search. After all, when you search for a restaurant, don’t you always Google it on your phone before making a choice?

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