[IMAGE left medium] The Internet changes and local search is no different.
Last year, Google Places transitioned into Google+ Local. Symbolically, what that means is that Google wants local businesses to use Google+, and on a practical level, they should.
The migration into Google+ Local didn't really change the essence of the service. The information on each business that was transferred into Google+ Local remains unchanged, and businesses can still manage their information through Google Places. But if you were already a Google+ user before that, then you likely saw the addition of the Local tab on your Google+ stream.
That's just one reason to use Google+. By doing so, you can easily manage your local business data at Google Places.
Google+ Dashboard: Reason No. 2 To Use Google+ For Your Local Business
A second reason to use Google+ is the recent introduction of Google+ Dashboard. This nifty little gem is a simple way to manage your Google+ business page. If you haven't built a branded page for your business yet, then you should consider it now. Google+ Dashboard allows you to manage all of your business information across Google Maps, Search, and Google+. You can do this through the Overview tab. The information you can change about your business includes website URLs, store hours, phone numbers, and other pertinent contact information.
In addition to being able to change your business information, Google+ Dashboard gives you easy access to your Google AdWords Express and Offers campaigns. You can also see what the top searches for your business are, see which of your business locations are receiving the most requests for driving directions, and get a look at the performance of your Google+ posts.
Google+ Will Enhance Your Reputation
Thirdly, while Google hasn't officially announced any SEO benefits to using Google+ for your business, it's reasonable to expect that they'll come.
You can already see evidence of increased reputation if you are active on Google+. Users have seen their Google+ profiles rise in the search rankings for their names and business brands. Google Authorship threatens to replace other key reputation enhancers and search ranking criteria - such as inbound link analysis factors.
Did you know your Google+ posts are searchable? If someone conducts a search through Google's search engine and one of your Google+ posts answers the query well enough, then it could appear in the search results. Your name and business brand have a better chance of ranking in organic search results. Plus, your information is more searchable to anyone in your circles or who have you in theirs. A presence on Google+ will enhance your authority, brand strength, and your reputation.
It's clear that Google wants you to use Google+, both personally and for your business. Now is a good time to start. The benefits are increasing.