Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) filled a glaring hole in its young social network by rolling out brand pages to help companies, celebrities and others tout themselves on Google+.
Google+ Pages, which follow the Facebook Pages scheme that helped so many brands skyrocket to stardom on the world's largest social network, launched Nov. 7. Pepsi, Toyota, Macy's and The Muppets are some of the 20 companies or brands that have signed on to launch special business-oriented Web pages vetted by Google.
Google+ launched June 28 to limited field-testing for individuals only. Several brands, such as The Muppets, tried to set up Web pages for the new network, but Google shut them down because it didn't have the mechanisms in place to verify brands were what they claimed to be.
Even after Google rolled out to public beta testing, Google+ had no brand capabilities. That is a big gap at a time when businesses are using Facebook, Twitter and other social-media services to reach new and existing customers and lure them via deals.
Going forward, users can find brand pages they like; they will be designated by this square logo next to their brand profile name, and elect to follow those pages. Users will also be able to easily share Google+ Pages they like with those who follow them.
"This means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour," said Google+ Senior Vice President of Engineering Vic Gundotra in a blog post.
"Google+ pages give life to everything we find in the real world. And by adding them to circles, we can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most. For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you."
Gundotra, who alluded to the imminence of brand pages at the Web 2.0 Summit Oct. 19, also introduced Direct Connect from Google search, a tool that will let users search for a brand's Google + profile by typing in an entry such as "+Pepsi" in the Google search box. Google will whisk those users directly to the brand's profile page, where the user can add the brand to their Google+ crowd.
Gundotra cautioned that Direct Connect only works for a limited number of pages (+Google, +Pepsi and +Toyota), but more are on the way. Moreover, Google+ pages are now included in search results on Google.com. Google, which has created brand pages for its Google Maps, Google Places, Gmail, YouTube, Catalogs and other products, includes brand pages for the following:
All American Rejects
- Anderson Cooper 360
- Angry Birds
- Barcelona Football Club
- Dallas Cowboys
- Good Morning America
- The Muppets
- Phoenix Suns
- Save the Children
- Special Report with Bret Baier
- X Games
- Zen Bikes
Finally, Google is making it easier for brands to get their pages up and running here.