You’ve probably already heard the buzz – Google is converting Google Places into Google+ Local pages. But what the heck does that mean for local marketing?

Google+ Local pages are more dynamic, visually appealing and include a whole host of more “social” features, making this a great opportunity for local businesses to further grow their brand on the web and increase local presence, creating higher potential for SEO.

But, if you’re confused about what you need to do with your current Google Places listing, you’re not alone. For local businesses with existing Google Places listings, they will automatically be converted into Google+ Local pages. According to an article on searchengineland.com, Google’s Marissa Mayer stated that roughly 80 million Google Place pages have already been converted to Google+ Local pages.

Google states: If you are a business owner, you should continue to manage your information in Google Places for Business. You’ll still be able to verify your basic listing data, make updates, and respond to reviews. For those who use AdWords Express, your ads will operate as normal as they’ll automatically redirect people to the destination you selected, or your current listing.

However, Google+ Local pages allow much more dynamic content than Google Places did. Local marketers should jump on this – review your new Google+ Local page to identify if there’s any content, pictures or info that would be beneficial to your followers and help make your page stand out. With this change, Google has now brought search and social full circle. It’s not just another social media page that you need to maintain – it’s the way that your customers will find you AND get reviews from the people they trust in their own Google+ circles.

Check out some of the features below:

1. Users can find new Google+ Local pages by doing a general search on Google.com or in Google Maps, in mobile apps or through a search on Google+.

2. Merchants can send messages directly to followers, similar to how companies connect with followers on Facebook and Twitter.

3. Zagat’s 30-point rating scale will replace Google’s star rankings. Zagat reviews are free and will be integrated across categories. This ensures that scores for food, service and atmosphere are taken into consideration separately, rather than lumping it all together in the star format.

4. Customers will be able to see reviews and recommendations from their friends/family/colleague in their circles, further connecting Google+ features.

5. Google+ Local pages will include Google properties.

Fret not if you don’t already have a Google Place listing! You can create one by simply visiting Google Places for Business to create your free listing. You will need a Google account. Once the listing is set up, it will automatically be converted to the Google+ Local page.

For more information, click here.

Check out an example below!