Google Inc is in talks to buy Yelp Inc, the popular website for reviews of local businesses, in a deal that could help the Internet search leader tap a lucrative local ads market, media reports say.

Google may pay more than $500 million for Yelp, according to reports confirmed to Reuters by a person familiar with the situation. It came as the Web giant embarked on an acquisition spree that has netted at least five companies since August.

By swallowing privately held Yelp, Google would own one of the Web’s most popular repositories of local restaurant and small-business information, including more than 8 million reviews penned by Yelp’s users.

That trove of content and a heavy focus on local businesses could provide a valuable foothold for Google as it seeks to convince local merchants to shift their advertising spending to the Internet.

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