Google+ has fast become a prominent feature of the social landscape. Who will ever forget the fierce summer rush for invites to the closed beta? Some desperate social media enthusiasts even paid up to $75 for an invite from eBay. More and more invites were sent out and, when the platform finally made registration available to everyone, it enjoyed exponential growth the like of which was previously unseen in a new social media platform.
It seemed like Google was on to a winner as people flocked to their Facebook alternative to try out features like Cirlces, Sparks and Hangouts.
Mountain View’s insistence on the use of real names, however, meant that businesses and organisations could not set up a G+ account like they could on Facebook Pages. Those who tried had the accounts removed or suspended and Google soon announced that a page solution for businesses was in development.
After much speculation and online debate G+’s much anticipated Pages feature was launched this week, allowing businesses to register a presence on the platform.
The initial response mirrored the closed beta launch as businesses rushed to set up their pages and start adding customers to Circles and, in turn, become circled themselves. But the Pages feature on Google+ is still a work in progress.
Unlike Facebook, Google+ Pages only currently allow one page admin, and pages can’t be transferred to new owners. In addition there are no vanity URLs, making pages difficult to find without a direct link or a shortened version through something like bit.ly.
We have to assume that these issues will be resolved soon. Instead of https://plus.google.com/bigmouthmedia, we’re currently stuck with https://plus.google.com/104918238300995301945/posts – doesn’t really roll of the tongue, does it?
And what use is a non-transferrable, single admin business page? What if the administrator goes on holiday, or leaves the company?
These are pretty big elephants in the G+ Pages room, and it’s hard to imagine that Mountain View will leave them in place for too long, but as it stands, there they are – so, why are businesses clamouring to get registered? As with everything Google does, it all comes back to search.
A Google+ page can be linked to an AdWords account; this way any +1 clicks (the Google version of the Facebook ‘Like’ button) that your PPC ads generate are aggregated on your Page, and any +1s from your Page are aggregated to your PPC ads. This will eventually show under the PPC annotation and, potentially, increase your PPC click-through rate.
In non-paid search Google are rolling out Google Direct, which introduces the concept of a +keyword to make it easier for your customers to find your Page and add you to their circles. See what happens when we type “+burberry” in to Google:
We see the Burberry logo and the strapline of the Burberry Google+ Page as an option. If we click it, we go straight to the Burberry Page and get asked if we want to add it to our circles:
I think Google Direct is particularly exciting. With its potential to drive traffic from traditional media advertising it is, for me, the standout feature of Google+ Pages.
Picture “+Burberry” instead of “facebook.com/burberry” at the bottom of a print ad. It would look good, it’s memorable and crucially, it’s easy for the user to execute.
In a previous life I worked tech support for several major UK broadband ISPs – you’d be surprised how many people don’t know how to use the address bar; everything gets typed into Google! The creation of the +keyword on google direct has essentially bypassed the need to memorise a URL and it won’t be long before a company will leverage that with Direct and make a real success of their G+ Page; I bet Facebook are watching this feature with real interest.