Microsoft's Bing counters Google with Yelp partnership

Bing adding Yelp reviews to its search results page, taking a swipe at Google and Zagat

Microsoft didn't just sit around and idly watch Google take the lead in local search with its partnership with Zagat.

Microsoft's search engine Bing will now feature content from Yelp, an online company that helps people find great restaurants, hotels and stores based on users' opinions. Bing will feature Yelp info on search results pages.

The new feature began rolling out in the U.S. on Thursday and should be available across the nation within a few weeks, according to Yelp.

"Whether it's discovering the right restaurant, planning the evening's entertainment or finding local services, Yelp has emerged as a proven and trusted resource," said Mike Nichols, general manager of Bing, in a statement. "Enabling people to do more with search involves building a spectrum of features and data that people trust..."

The Bing and Yelp partnership comes on the heels of Google unveiling Google+ Local, a service that gives users Zagat restaurant reviews and Google+ friend recommendations along side of their traditional search results.

The new feature, which was announced late in May, isn't just for Google+ users. Google+ Local is available as a tab in Google+ but it also can be integrated into Google search, and the Google Maps mobile app.

Google's move to integrate Zagat reviews into its social network didn't come as any surprise. Google bought the restaurant ratings publisher last September. Marissa Mayer, Google's vice president of local, maps and location services, said in a blog post at the time that "Zagat will be a cornerstone of our local offering."

Zeus Kerravala, an analyst at ZK Research, said in a previous interview that search is branching out.

"This is all part of the evolution of search being more than just finding things," he added. "Today I search, I get a result, then I go to Zagat or Google+ to find reviews. Having them instantly available saves steps and time."

Microsoft has been focused on updating Bing in recent weeks.

Last week, the company announced that it was expanding Bing search results by partnering with the Encyclopedia Britannica to add more data to its search results.

Bing now includes Britannica Online answers directly in the Bing results page.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed. Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

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