Google Places is now Google+ Local, with a new scoring system for reviews and some other changes to layout. As Google+ continues to struggle to gain audience, Google integrates G+ with search more and more. I largely agree with this article on Why Google+ is the only thing that matters – at least to marketers. While I disagree strongly with GM’s decision to drop all Facebook advertising, I do understand the underlying motives. G+ is becoming the new tool for optimizing organic SEO. Links have been marginalized, in favor of social media.
Here’s more info on Google’s new G+ Local from Matthew O’Such on the Automotive Digital Marketing Community. I’d recommend you check out your own G+ Local pages to see how you are affected by these changes.