Google launches Google+ Pages

Searching for +your brand will forward customers directly to your own company/brand page
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Search giant Google has launched business and brand based Google+ Pages on the firm's social networking service.

Until now Google+ has been limited to individuals although many wishing to set up brand or company-based profiles flouted the rules and set up individual profiles, falling foul of Google's real name policy.

"Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you," Google engineering chief Vic Gundotra told would-be Google+ page operators.

"Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face," he continued.

A number of brands have already appeared on the service including Toyota, Pepsi, The Muppets and the game developer Rovio via an Angry Birds page.

The company highlighted the ability to hold public video conferencing meetings with fans or customers with a live Google+ 'Hangout' with Miss Piggy and Kermit from the Muppets. Google also produced a YouTube video showing how a local bike shop Zen Bikes planned to use the service.

Companies wishing to set up a new Google+ page can do so on this page where the first step is to choose a category from Local Business or Product or Brand. Other categories include one for larger organisations and Arts, Entertainment or Sports.

Vitally, Google+ Pages will now appear in Google search such as this search for Zen Bikes. Google's search engine then turns into a virtual information directory for the given business, featuring everything from a map with store location, inside pictures, store hours, reviews and even sub pages for specific products being sold.

Google also unveiled a tweak to the Google search engine called Direct Connect. Users will be able to type a plus symbol in front of a search query in order to be taken directly to a suitable Google+ Page such as a search for +Angry Birds.

However at the time of writing this feature doesn't yet appear to be live, despite Google suggesting that +Angry Birds should result in such a page but a search for +Google shows how the feature will work.

The ramifications for Direct Connect are considerable with the internet giant having transformed the world's largest internet search engine into a dual search engine/business brand directory which is firmly aimed at driving users towards the firm's own social networking and search advertising services.

Will you be setting up a Google+ Page for your business?

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