Google Gives Developers Simple Google+ Plug-ins to Tie Into Websites

Google wants to make it easier for businesses and other Website owners to connect with their Google+ audiences using new plug-ins and "user badges."

Google has launched a new set of Google+ plug-ins that make it easier for Website owners to "connect" with their customers on Google+ by providing a simple one-click means so that visitors can track sites.

"The Google+ Follow button is a standalone plug-in that—as you might expect—lets visitors follow you from your site," wrote Raj Iyengar, product manager of Google+, in a June 28 post on the Google+ Platform Blog. "It's nice and compact, so it integrates easily with your existing social buttons."

For developers who have already added the +1 button for Google+ to their sites, no new coding is required to add the new plug-in, wrote Iyengar. "Just configure the plugin, add the markup to your page, and you're all set."

Users can see the look and feel of the new Follow button on several Websites, including Celebuzz, Cooking Light, Fitness Magazine and Huffington Post, he wrote.

In addition, other new ways to attract visitors and followers to Websites were also unveiled by Google, including new badges for Google+ Communities to help customize a site's appearance online, Iyengar wrote. "The new badges are highly configurable, making it easy to match your site design."

The new badges will replace existing badge designs over time, but the old badges will continue to exist for up to 90 days, giving developers time to configure new badges for their Websites, he wrote. "After 90 days, we'll automatically upgrade any Google+ badges to the new design."

Google has been tweaking its Google+ offerings for months as it continues to try to grow its user base and make it a must-visit destination for consumers who are already deeply entrenched in more mature social networks including Facebook.

In March, Google released reworked versions of its Google+ apps for Android and iPhone users, adding several improved features for photos, posts, user profiles and user communities. Highlighting the iPhone app improvements were photo-enhancement features from Snapseed, which allow users to perform basic edits such as rotating and cropping images, as well as using photo filters on their images before sharing them with others.

In February, Google+ unveiled app improvements that made it easier for users to access their other online iOS and Android apps more seamlessly and quickly through a new Google+ sign-in feature that allows users to tie their Google+ sign-in process to the sign-in processes for their most-used non-Google apps on their desktops or mobile devices.

Google+ has been around since June 2011, when it was started by the company as an online offering to compete with Facebook, or at least to give Google a piece of the social networking pie. Users were able to share events and news online with others in their "circles," then connect with others in their friends' circles, too.

In December 2012, Google introduced deeper social media features for its Google+ service by adding online communities where people can meet, discuss and share their passions on a wide variety of subjects, from sports to collecting to cooking and more. The new online communities included all kinds of interest groups, from cars to books to gardening and more. The communities can be set up to be open to anyone on Google+, or they can be private groups closed to the general public.

In August 2012, Google+ added some innovative tools for enterprises to try to bolster the appeal of Google+ for business users. The new Google+ features gave business users the ability to control who can see their posts on Google+, video conferencing that's integrated with other Google Apps, and new administrative controls over posts and who can view them.