How the world changes! Just as I was getting comfortable with building out Google Places for customers, and all that that entailed (optimized images and videos, keyword research, building citations outside of Google Places, and getting reviews on Google and other websites, among many other things), Google went and changed everything.
Here's the news:
This is an excerpt from Google's blog (UK):
Today, we’re rolling out Google+ Local, a simple way to discover and share local information featuring Zagat scores and recommendations from people you trust in Google+.
If you work with so-called “offline businesses,” then you will want to know how this affects you and your clients, right? At first glance, it might seem pretty bad. As in, “I have to learn something else now?”
Well, fear not. You actually just got a really great selling point, free from Google. Here's why.
Google Places is being replaced by Google+ Local. That move requires some thinking. But once you get past that, it will actually be quite easy to upsell your clients into a Google+ business page. There's a lot more that they can do there in terms of creating content, sharing information, and conducting online meetings, phone calls, and engaging with customers on social networks.
It's really a no-brainer.
Google has ported over about 80 million Google Places listings already to the new Google+ Local; it does appear that in doing so, they've presented us offline marketers with another opportunity to help our clients—by claiming their Google+ Business page that Google made automatically from their Google Places listing.
If your client has already claimed his Google Places listing, NOTE that the claim does not follow to his newly-created Google+ Local page. He still has to claim it.
Now, you could offer this service free of charge to existing Google Places customers and scout around for unclaimed Google+ Local pages and notify the business owners of the situation—for a fee, of course.
Or, you could simply offer to do it for free to begin building your professional reputation by doing them a nice little favor that will save them some grief in the future.
It's up to you.
Here's a good overview of what happened and what you can do, straight from the horse's mouth: