Google has held off on allowing brand and business profiles on its Google+ social network. But now, Google's fledgling social network is no longer just for people. Google+ Pages opens up the doors for businesses, organizations and special interest groups to have their very own page, circles and all.

Now Open for Business

Google has previously held its ground that it wants its Google+ social network to focus only on people. This has gone to the extent of enforcing a real-name policy so that users will have to establish their real identities on the social network, although it has relented by allowing nicknames after some time. Google had promised allowing business pages sooner or later, and now that day has come.

Create a Google Page

Google SVP for engineering Vic Gundotra highlights the main advantages of Google+ Pages for both users and businesses. For end-users, the feature can be used to connect with other like-minded individuals by adding Pages to one's circles. For businesses and brands, Pages can be used to reach out and connect to one's audience.

For you and me, this means we can now hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favorite clothing line, or follow a band on tour. Google+ pages give life to everything we find in the real world. And by adding them to circles, we can create lasting bonds with the pages (and people) that matter most.

For businesses and brands, Google+ pages help you connect with the customers and fans who love you. Not only can they recommend you with a +1, or add you to a circle to listen long-term. They can actually spend time with your team, face-to-face-to-face. All you need to do is start sharing, and you'll soon find the super fans and loyal customers that want to say hello.

Pages act like any Google+ individual account, including share photos, share videos, share links and conduct hangouts. Users can also add businesses to a circle.

Direct Connect Lets Users Connect Directly

Pages are also indexed by Google, and so these can be run alongside one's blog or website to help drive traffic and interest. With Google+ Pages and Direct Connect, a brand or company can have its Google+ identity indexed and reflected in Google search results. Users just need to add a plus sign before the brand name to find relevant activity relating to the company. +Angry Birds, for instance, will take users to the Angry Birds Google+ page. This feature currently works on a limited number of company profiles such as +Google, +Pepsi and +Toyota, although Google is working on expanding the functionality to cover more organizations and users.

Google has listed a number of business and organization pages that are already up on Google+. Expect more and more businesses to have a presence in the social network sooner or later. If you have a brand name, better build your page right now, to avoid future conflicts, particularly if you have a fairly common brand name.

More features are coming "soon," including Verified Name option, multiple administrators and possibly an API for interfacing with other apps and social networks.