Yesterday Google announced that Google+ Pages for Business were available to a limited amount of users. They quickly, within hours, followed that up by opening up the ability to create Google+ Pages to everyone. I’m in the middle of creating them for all my current customers and I like them quite a bit.
What’s really exciting for me is the built-in functionality for Local Search Marketing. When you create a Page, you choose whether you’re making the page for a Local Business or Place, a Product or Brand, a Company/Institution/Organization, Arts/Entertainment/Sports, or Other. If you select a Local Business/Place the form asks for the phone number and looks for the business information and auto-fills the information for that location if its available.
When you’re done creating the page, your Google+ identity is switched over so that you’re acting as the Page. You can switch back to your own profile at any time. When you’re logged in as the Page, any actions you make are shown as coming from the page: posts, pictures, videos, updates, etc.
The functionality is similar to Facebook Pages, but they’re making a real effort to integrate the Google suite of products. I’ve already noticed that if you add a link to a Picasa album (Google’s photo album product) the images in the album are displayed in an album view.
Another cool feature is the ability to “Start a hangout”, a video conference that anyone in your circles can join, a great tool for virtual meetings with customers or webinars.
They’ve already announced that multi-admin support, ownership transfer and analytics are on their way and I can’t wait to see that functionality included.