Here’s the old news – Google is trying to challenge someone else’s turf. Here’s something we haven’t heard in a while, though – this time, Google has actually done a pretty good job of it. Google+ Local makes the process of finding, evaluating, and getting to restaurants very, very easy. Yelp should be a little concerned.
Google+ Local is currently accessible only using an Android phone or a Google+ account, though it is promised for iOS soon. In the search bar of Google+ Local, you can search for specific restaurants or kinds of food, followed by your location, similar to what you would do on Yelp. What you get after that is the impressive part. Google has teamed up with Zagat, the premier restaurant rater, for Google+ Local. Zagat ratings are listed for all restaurants that have them, and a link is provided that explains the Zagat rating system. A snippet from the Zagat review will be listed below the name of each restaurant. If you’re using a mobile device, a flag will pop up on the map showing the restaurant name and Zagat rating – clicking on the flag will bring up the review excerpt.
Clicking on a restaurant will bring you to a detailed page giving more information. On mobile devices, you’ll see four buttons – Write a Review, Map, Directions, and Call. Below, user reviews from Google and Zagat appear, as well as an option to reserve a table using OpenTable and links to other reviews from sites like UrbanSpoon and CitySearch. If you’re using a computer and a Google+ account, you’ll also see pictures and nearby public transportation stops, as well as everything you would find on the mobile version of the service.
It’s impressive how clean and efficient Google+ Local is, right out of the gate. It’s definitely one of the better services Google has put together recently, and is worth checking out to see if you prefer it to Yelp. Google is promising future updates, and, being Google+, it’s easy to imagine that check-ins could be coming in the near future. Not a bad effort so far from Google.