John Jantsch takes a closer look at Google's long-anticipated business-branding support -- and sees a lot of room for improvement.
Google Plus added its much-anticipated brand pages for businesses this week. And, well, there's not much to get excited about.
Having said that, I'm still suggesting some people adopt them. Just take it slowly.
So, what do I think Google got wrong? The short answer is plenty.
No Branded URLs
Facebook calls these "vanity URLs," but Google is sticking with "google.com/1022342347833" (not a real page) or something of that nature for your brand's URL instead of allowing customized names like "BobsPlumbing." Part of this likely has to do with Google's desire to integrate the URL structure into search and something they are calling Direct Connect, but in terms of promoting a business brand it's pretty silly.
No Verification Process
Last time I checked there were about 50 "official" Coca-Cola pages set up by people making a point that anyone can create and (sort of) claim any business name. This is either ridiculously silly or an evil Google plot to force real businesses into rushing in and creating their pages before someone else beats them to it.
Either way, it's a mess. It seems like Google could have used a process similar to the way you claim a website in Google Webmaster Tools -- you must prove that you are the site owner by adding a file to your site and getting Google to ping it.
For now, the only sort of verification process available -- and it's not much -- is to add the Google+ badge to your home page and then link to your Google+ page and vice versa. (This is what leads me to my "evil plan" theory.)
One Admin Only
The personal Google account that creates a company page is the only one that can administer the page. I realize this is the easy way to get this going, but brands must be able to assign others to administer a page or this won't work.
A one-person shop can get by this way, but a business with a marketing department will need to give several people administrative access. A large brand may even need to loop an external PR firm into or out of the admin process.
Where's Google Places?
Seems like it would have been a great idea to let local businesses that had already claimed and enhanced a Google Places Page to simply connect it. That would have helped in the verification process and would have given those that had taken the time to really doll up their Places pages a head start in the Google+ profile-building game.
The real shame is that this rollout, devoid of so many obvious features and functionality, is going to cause some real friction in the Google+ sunny bubble. It could leave even the staunchest Google cheerleaders scratching their heads.
My guess is that some of these items are on the radar to get fixed since the screaming about them has been deafening.
In the meantime, my advice for true brick-and-mortar business owners is to create your page and add the badge to your home page as a placeholder for verification purposes.
Individuals, experts, and professionals, however, might want to step back and wait, particularly if they've already built a presence with a personal profile. At the moment there is very little advantage in creating a brand page unless you truly have a brand.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant and author of Duct Tape Marketing and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network.