We’ve shared the importance of differentiating your dealership in all the places you have an online presence, so we wanted to give our readers a heads-up about big changes for businesses on Google.

Last week, Google rolled out Google+ Local, set to replace Places as the home for local businesses’ Google listings page and reviews.

As Google shares in a short video overview, Google+ Local provides more social integration for consumers, particularly when it comes to sharing reviews and recommendations, as well as discovering local businesses, via their Google+ network.

Google+ Local also uses a new scoring system for local businesses based on a model created for restaurants by Zagat, which Google acquired in September.  Instead of its 5-star rating system, Google+ Local assigns a score between 0 and 30 based on reviews of that business.  Consumers interested in writing reviews must now have a Google+ profile in order to do so.

The transition isn’t expected to happen overnight, so for the time being, Google is directing businesses to continue managing their listing via their Places dashboard.  Eventually, Google envisions one page to manage centrally on Google, incorporating Search, Maps, Google+ and Mobile.

If you haven’t yet set up your Google+ business page, Google has suggested making sure you select the “Local” category to help ensure your business page and local listing page are merged when the time comes.

For more information, check out Google’s running Q&A thread here, as well as PCG Marketing’s Matt O’Such’s post on DrivingSales.com here.

What do you think of Google’s new direction for local businesses?