How important Google+ with your local SEO is not exactly known (Google secrets), but we can say with certainty, that IT IS important. It is especially important when dealing with mobile traffic. As we know, mobile traffic dominates local searches and the better reviews and page you have on Google+, the better you're going to perform in search.
The reality is, a lot of companies do not focus much effort into their Google+ stock because lets face it, people are not talking about the trending video they saw on Google+. Most people gravitate towards other social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Youtube for content. However, with this reality comes an opportunity. This is where you can leap past your competition if they do not have their local SEO up to par.
Some things to consider, Google is constantly changing their search algorithm. Aside from the big patches like Panda and Penguin, Google has been known to release small little patches and tweak their algorithm almost on a daily basis. All the more recent patches have being trending in favor of things like responsive design, page load speeds, and of course, local SEO.
It is worth noting from the start, we do not suggest trying to buy or fake Google+ reviews. They are very smart at catching fake reviews, and it could discredit your company, or have even further repercussions to your page.
The best way to get Google+ reviews are to actually have clients or customers write them for you. There is no harm in asking them to write you a review. You'd be surprised what people would do for you if you provide them with great customer service.
A good example of this is how when I went to seek legal advice from a law firm about an employment matter. I ended up using their services, and at the end they handed me a piece of paper with instructions on how to create a G+ profile and write them a review on their Google+ page. It seems a bit tacky, but it was working for them. The only reason I found that law firm was because it appeared in my local search when I typed in "Toronto employment law". They had a decent amount of positive reviews, which I based my decision off.
Point of the matter is, it doesn't matter how you get the reviews, just as long as they are legit and written by someone you've helped. People will generally tend to base their decisions off reviews split into two categories: the quality of the score and the total amount of reviews.
Google+ bases their review system off a 5 star approach, meaning the best possible score you can rate a place is 5/5 and the lowest is 1/5. You cannot rate something 0/5; the interface will not allow it. So naturally, most consumers will want to spend their hard earned cash at a place with a quality score.
The second thing people look at is how many actual reviews are there. Which company would you trust more? A company that has a perfect 5 star rating with 8 total reviews, or a company rated 4.8 with 130 reviews? Sometimes the answer isn't always easy, but more often than not people tend to go with the more experienced, and more reviewed option.
Another thing you should consider is that some of the reviews boasting amazing 5 star quality service could be fake. Part of being an SEO is that you can identify fake google + reviews rather easily. They are often written in a script, with a few places for interchangeable variables depending on the product. If they come from countries like India, Russia, Bangladesh, etc etc, they are most definitely fake (sorry to call out those countries, but unfortunately it is true). If you're in Toronto
These types of reviews can actually penalize your page, and unfortunately, as a page owner you cannot remove poor quality reviews off your business page. You can report them, but you cannot actually remove them yourself (rightfully so, otherwise companies would cherry pick and only post perfect scores).
You can also pick out the real reviews just as easily. A good quality review quite often will come with a photo. With this day and age, people take pictures and hashtag literally everything. They are usually genuine and provide something insightful or useful about the company.
As usual, Search Engine Sherpas will be documenting the results of our Google+ efforts over the coming months. We just created a new page on Google+ and have reached out to some clients for their thoughts. Look for a future case study to examine the results.