The wait is (almost) finally over for Google+ Pages. Google today officially announced the impending arrival of new Google+ Pages for brands and businesses, a big piece of the Google+ puzzle that has been promised for months and marketers have been eagerly anticipating.
Why “almost”? If you visit the “Create a page” link, it’s likely you’ll be greeted with this message: “Thanks for your interest in Google+ Pages, but we haven’t finished releasing them to everyone. Please check back soon.”
Twenty Google+ Pages are already available, and organizations will no doubt make these numbers balloon once Google makes this available to all “soon” as part of its worldwide gradual rollout.
For now, you can have a look at the following Google+ Pages, which all went live just after 1 p.m. ET today (so some have no content as yet as of this writing, such as Macy’s and Pepsi):
- All American Rejects
- Anderson Cooper 360
- Angry Birds
- Barcelona Football Club
- Dallas Cowboys
- Fox News
- Good Morning America
- The Muppets
- Phoenix Suns
- Save the Children
- X Games
- Zen Bikes
What Are Google+ Pages
Google+ Pages are essentially Google’s own version of Facebook Pages that allow brands to connect with customers or fans. You can post updates or news, talk to customers/fans (including sending targeted messages for specific groups of people), and check your +1 counts.
To create a Google+ Page, you need a personal Google+ profile. You’ll be able to pick one of five categories for your page:
- Local Business or Place
- Product or Brand
- Company, institution, or Organization
- Arts, Entertainment or Sports
You can then add additional details, which will vary slightly depending on your category.
Google users will be able to find and follow Pages, like public profiles, via Google’s search results.
Also, with a Pages admin account, you can use Google+ circles and take part in video chat Hangouts.
Google+ Pages vs. Profiles
At first glance, Google+ Pages and Profiles appear almost identical. However, in this help page, Google lays out the differences between Pages and Profiles. They are:
- Pages can’t add people to circles unless someone adds a Google+ Page to their circles or mentions (using the + or @ before the name) the page.
- Pages are for entities; profiles are for people.
- Pages are public by default.
- Pages have a +1 button.
- Pages can’t +1 other pages, play games, share to extended circles, receive notifications via email, text, or Google+ bar, or hangout on mobile devices.
When you +1 Google+ Pages, that page will appear under the +1’s link of your profile and sends people to the Google+ Page, in this instance Toyota’s Google+ Page:
Thus far, there is a huge disparity between the number of followers Pages have compared to the number of people who have +1’d the Pages.
Google Direct Connect
This is all part of Google’s vision to “transform the overall Google experience” by “weaving identity and sharing” into all of its products.
On the search side, Google is adding a feature that lets you enter a plus sign (+) followed by a page (e.g., Dallas Cowboys) and be taken directly to the Google+ Page. A small icon will appear in the search suggestion box (I’m not seeing this currently). So in this example, you’d type +Dallas Cowboys and be taken directly to the Dallas Cowboys Google+ Page, bypassing the search results page.
Also, when you navigate this way, Google+ will ask you via a pop-up box if you’d like Google+ to add pages to your circles from Google search.
As part of Direct Connect, Google advising website owners to add the Google+ icon.
If you want your Page to be eligible for Google Direct Connect, you must link from your Google+ Page to your website, your website to your Google+ Page using the rel=”publisher” code. For more on how to set this up, click here.
Local Google+ Pages
Google is advising local business to maintain their Google Places Page in addition to creating a new Google+ Page. Google+ Pages for local include the ability to add a map, address, phone number, and hours. As a post on the Small Business Blog notes:
“Many of you have already verified your Place page via Google Places for business. We encourage you to continue maintaining the information in your Google Places account to help ensure that potential customers can find accurate information about your business on Google Maps and local search. You may also want to supplement your Google Places account with a Google+ Page for your business, which provides you with additional ways to engage and directly interact with customers using Google+. Currently, however, Google Places accounts and Google+ Pages must be managed separately.”
Google+ Pages + AdWords
Soon, advertisers will be able to link their Google+ Page to AdWords campaigns. This will provide a grand total of +1’s, taken by adding up +1’s from your Google+ Page, website, ads, and search results. Google noted that “your +1’s will be shown with your brand wherever it appears, including search, ads, Google+ and your website.”
You’ll be able to link your Google+ Page to your AdWords account by using Social Extensions, under the Ad Extensions tab.