Thus far, 2012 has been Google's "Year of Local". Mike Ramsey wrote as much back in March in regards to the Venice update, but it's even more true now. Announced today, Google Places is going to be tied to G+, giving even more local, even more personalized results.
But first, let's go back a few months. On February 27th, Google introduced an algorithm update code-named "Venice". This update was designed to give more locality to traditionally non-local searches, as well as giving Google a better guess at a user's true geographic location. Search Engine Land explored the global SEO implications of Venice.
Venice by Arian Zwegers
If that wasn't enough of a local shake-up, today Google introduced Google+ Local. This new platform will usurp the old Google Places platform, tying local listings and reviews into the Google+ social universe. For the most part, all Places pages have been automatically transitioned to Local pages, with info, photos, and reviews all being ported over as well.
For business owners, this will mean more headaches, at least in the short-term. Google is advising Place page managers to continue to update their Place/Local listings through the old interface, and maintain (or register) a Google+ Business page through the standard Plus interface, duplicating efforts on each front.
Interested in combining your +Local page with your +Business page? The Google Business Blog says, "...hold tight for news on how to get [your G+ Business page] linked to your local listing". (I'm not too optimistic on the timeline, given Google's track record of developing account merger tools.)
Perhaps the best takeaway for business owners is to use this opportunity to make sure your information is updated across the entire social web-- Google Places/Local, Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and wherever else you reach your audience. If all that sounds too daunting, don't be afraid to ask for some expert help.