Google+ Launches Brand Pages [updated]

Google has launched Pages for brands and businesses, creating a new type of profile analogous to Facebook's fan pages. Pages show a verified account symbol as well as a new, square icon, both at the top and on a 'Share this page' button on the left sidebar. It also has a blue 'Create a Google+ page' button. The +1 button is prominently displayed below the profile picture. Following a page adds it to a circle, just like a personal profile.

Brand pages are one of the most anticipated Google+ features, and Google has been pulling down branded profiles in the meantime. Today's launch initially only added pages for select partners, in addition to the major Google properties. Visiting plus.google.com/pages/create showed a faded preview of what's to come, but it merely says, "Please check back soon." As of around 1:00 p.m. Pacific time, Google+ reported that all users can now create pages.

Slowly Adding Professional Features

Google+ opened to Google Apps customers, on October 27, giving businesses and organizations who use Google services internally access to the social network. Today's addition of brand pages now makes Google+ a compelling platform for professional use, with features like Hangout integration and live collaboration that stand out from Facebook and other platforms.

Search Results & Direct Connect

Today's update also positions Google+ pages in Google search results, and it launches a new feature called Direct Connect, which allows anyone to jump straight to a Google+ brand page by searching for "+[name]" in Google Web search. This only works for the limited partners announced today. Now we know why Google took away the "+" operator as a way of saying "and" in search.

Google continues its pattern of rolling out features slowly and incrementally. As SVP of Engineering Vic Gundotra told the audience at Web 2.0 last month, "We're going to take a cautious approach. We don't want to make the mistakes of others."

Are you excited for brand pages on Google+?