Zagat Ratings Updated for Google+ Local Listings

Last week, Google unrolled an update to all Google+ Local Pages that is definitely worth digging into. The change seems mostly cosmetic at this point but could foreshadow some changes to come regarding the Zagat rating we’ve (almost) gotten comfortable with the past five months.

Adjectives Replace Numbers

For most local car dealerships, we have been seeing three different categories for each review: Quality, Appeal, and Service. Customers can give a different rating for each category, allowing them to be more thorough in their critique.

Whereas customers previously chose a number from 0 to 3 for each category, they are now asked to choose an adjective describing their experience. The screenshot below outlines the descriptors they can choose from.

Google+ Review Options

As a result, all reviews are now shown with these adjectives instead of numbers – even reviews that were written before Zagat and Google+ integrated their review structure. You can see what a review now looks like (with ratings as adjectives) in the screenshot below.

Google+ Review

Why the Update?

From an SEO or Reputation Management perspective, I don’t think much is affected by this update. Local search consultant, Mike Blumenthal, points out that the change was most likely made because it “improves the search experience” and “makes the otherwise obtuse Zagat numbering system into something understandable by mere mortals.” Both could simply be categorized as improvements to user experience.

Abandoning the Zagat Rating System?

Currently, businesses are still given an overall ranking out of 30, staying true to the original Zagat scale. Apart from some of my foodie friends that have been describing restaurants as a “solid 24 rating” for years, I think many people are still confused by the 0-30 scale.

Is this recent update a glimpse of Google abandoning the Zagat rating for something more “user friendly” such as an all adjective rating system? I think that is a real possibility. While I like the concreteness of a number scale, the Zagat numbers are downright confusing to a non-foodie. Also, it’s easy to appreciate what the adjectives would do for user experience.

My prediction is that there will be an update to the overall Zagat rating in the near future. However, like most things in life, whether it will remain a number scale or not is up to Google!

Feel free to comment below with any opinions, questions, or ideas for a future blog post. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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