Google+ Business Pages: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Confusing
Google has been fantastic about creating half-baked products that strike out onto a scene and immediately dissipate (Buzz, Wave, Questions, Offers, Knols, the Nexus S, etc, etc, etc) and I have the distinct feeling that Google+ and its business pages will be much along the same lines. With that said, there are a few things you should know about the new Google+ business pages: some good, some bad, and some mind-blowingly perplexing. Let’s take a tour, shall we?
We’ll start out on a good note. Google has done a few things right with their business pages. For one, they’ve practically mirrored Facebook’s design. The layout is clean and navigable.
They also allow you to switch to act as the page to post links, comment on things, upload video, and do pretty much anything else you could do as a page on Facebook. Remarkable, that.
They’ve also integrated a handy little button that will take people from your website directly to your Google+ business page. Except, the only button available is an icon of varying size. There are other badges forthcoming, but even these aren’t too impressive. I guess I’m getting into some negative here. Sorry, put on a smile and let’s crack out some other promising features.
With your Google+ business page, you can add two followed links back to your site! Hooray! Much like the personal profiles with the custom links on the side, you can add links to any page on your site (or pretty much anywhere, for that matter) and customize the anchor text. You can also add a direct “website” link on your official Info page of your Google+ business profile.
The only significant advantage that Google+ business pages provide over a Facebook fan page is the two followed links. Which, as luck would have it, is perfect for giving your website a little bit more authority and providing absolutely no incentive to do anything else. Until some improvements are made, the only people doing anything remotely engaging on Google+ will be huge brands with amazing marketing budgets and early adopter hippies that are “sticking it to the man” and moving from Facebook.
Alright so, for direct search impact, you can’t beat two followed links and another way to +1 your website. Except that, even though they claim the +1s on your page are tied to the +1s for your entire site, they have no validation method in place and the +1s don’t presently carry over to your domain. So much for that.
The URL structure is horrendous. And by horrendous, I don’t mean unpleasant. I mean the URLs are a string of unpatterned numbers and there’s no way to change it. When showing my preliminary business page to a colleague, the actual link I had to provide him with was this beast:
The https://plus.google.com/b/116181235308189220063 link apparently wasn’t enough (you’ll find it 404s here as well), they had to repeat the number and add “posts” to the end of it. Oh, and there’s apparently no way to change this and no news on the horizon to indicate when it might be changed. https://plus.google.com/116181235308189220063 works, though. Nothing says “branding” like an indiscernible numerical permutation.
As mentioned above, Google’s intention was to tie the +1s that your business page receives to the root domain so that the more fans (I mean encirclers) that you get, the higher your site will rank. Unfortunately, this doesn’t work. I don’t mean that the idea is flawed, I mean IT DOESN’T WORK. The +1s aren’t tied to the domain at all. Maybe it’s a bug? Who knows, but they also lack any kind of validation service to ensure that you actually own a site you’re making a page for, so who knows what they’re thinking.
The Downright Confusing
Alright, some of these are actually bad, but they spill over into the confusing category in so many ways that it’s hard to separate.
The pages are tied to one Google ID. You can have as many as you want, but you can’t grant administration capabilities to other Google+ users. So, unless you’re the community manager for your brand, keep the finger off the “create” button. Because, conveniently, you can’t transfer ownership either. Once you’ve created a brand page, you’re stuck with it, son. Which really isn’t a big deal, because who knows if Coca-Cola’s actual G+ page is 9085320988023 or 9085320988024?
You can’t add people to your circles as a business page until they add you. I guess this is a useful feature since it prevents brands and pseudo-brands from spam encircling people (as we saw earlier in Google+’s lifetime) but really, it’s a painful inconvenience. Beyond that, it seems completely unnecessary. Why does my business profile need to circle people? Outside of, say, showing who works there or who my business partners are, I really can’t see a reason to feed a stream of Google+ shares to both my personal account AND my business account.
The unfortunate future in all of this is that as long as Google controls the majority of the search market, they will continue to strongarm users into Google+. And by “users” I mean “search marketers.” The problem is, Google is a business built on mass appeal (search) that continues to develop products almost explicitly for early adopters and marketers (everything else). Google+ is an open forum of marketers and techies yelling at each other about their own products.
Google+ business pages is another release of their techie-and-marketers strategy, further showing their inability to understand the common user. Google+ isn’t going away anytime soon, and that’s unfortunate for us, because as long as Google continues to pump it full of ranking-increasing goodies, marketers are going to keep using it. And it will limp on until someone mercifully kills it off.
Google+ could have been a promising network, but its complete lack of originality, constant unfinished feature rollouts and lame attempts by Google to inject it with anything to attract new users have practically consigned it to the above-mentioned moldering data center.
Please, Google. Kill Google+ and give us our referring keywords back. We’ll all be happy after that.