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Google buys Zagat to boost business reviews

Zagat has been providing ratings for restaurants for more than 30 years

Google has acquired venerable restaurant ratings publisher Zagat to boost its online maps and local business listings with trustworthy reviews and recommendations, which Web surfers increasingly seek and value.

"Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering -- delighting people with their impressive array of reviews, ratings and insights, while enabling people everywhere to find extraordinary (and ordinary) experiences around the corner and around the world," wrote Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of local, maps and location services, in a blog post.

Google bought Zagat, which was founded in 1979, because of its brand, reputation and quality of its surveys and reviews, which it publishes in print guides and online. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Best known for its restaurant ratings, Zagat also surveys consumers about the quality of hotels, nightclubs and other leisure-focused businesses.

Online consumer reviews have been considered useful yet controversial for years, as business owners often complain about the motives and accuracy of negative posts about their businesses.

Some of the best known review sites are Yelp, TripAdvisor, CitySearch and Angie's List. Google lets its users post reviews on its local business listings, and displays review snippets and links from some review sites as well.

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