Google to buy travel brand Frommer's

Google's goal is to improve the reviews content it offers with local business listings

Google plans to buy the travel guide publisher Frommer's, as well as other travel publishing assets, from John Wiley & Sons, as the search company continues beefing up its original content.

The Frommer's content will be used to boost the reviews component of Google's local business listings.

Google made a similar acquisition last September when it bought restaurant review guide publisher Zagat.

"The Frommer's team and the quality and scope of their content will be a great addition to the Zagat team. We can't wait to start working with them on our goal to provide a review for every relevant place in the world," a Google spokeswoman said via email.

Google, which early in its history vowed it would never be a content producer because it wanted to be a neutral web search provider, has moved away from that pledge in recent years. For example, it is investing in creating and commissioning original, professionally-produced video content for its YouTube site.

In a statement, Wiley said that the Frommer's sale is part of an ongoing push to rid itself of publishing products that no longer fit with its business strategy.

Google lets its users post reviews on its local business listings, and displays review snippets and links from some review sites as well.

The latter practice has at times earned Google criticism from third-party review sites that have complained that Google is benefitting from their content while hurting their traffic.

Thus, the acquisition of Zagat and now of Frommer's is a way for Google to own review content, and reduce its dependency on reviews from third-party sites with which it has a contentious relationship.

Juan Carlos Perez covers enterprise communication/collaboration suites, operating systems, browsers and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Juan on Twitter at @JuanCPerezIDG.

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