Google+ Business Pages Policy “Play Racket Ball” Manages to Annoy anyone

Monday, July 25th 2011. | Internet News

Business pages for Google+ have always been a sore point. From the get go Google+ only supported human profiles, but some businesses did create profiles anyway. And, while Google has been removing some of them, others were left intact, to the frustration of those that ‘played by the rules.’ And it looks like the more Google+ tries to fix it, the worse it gets. Google’s solution for the moment is to set up a personal profile which will represent your company.

Google+ profiles, for now, are designed for people, they need a birthday, gender and things like that. But the hype around the project made several companies sign up anyway, big corporations like Ford, or popular blogs like Mashable.

Google+ deleted non-human profiles arbitrarily

After more companies and organizations started setting up shops, Google made it clear that this was forbidden and that it will be deleting these profiles, which it did, rather slowly and randomly.

The company did say that it is working on creating a business pages feature, but it will take several months until it’s ready for everyone. In the meantime, a select few will be able to work with Google to test the beta version of the pages features. This was already messy enough, but at least everyone was in the same bucket. Except that, some profiles, rather popular ones, didn’t get deleted, while other did.

Search engine expert and founder of Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan was reasonably upset that he wasn’t able to create a business profile, especially as others clearly broke the rules but were still live. “I know you have great plans to have super wonderful business profiles eventually. But if you’re going to only let a ‘tiny’ number of businesses operate before that, then you taint them and yourselves with favoritism,” he wrote in an open letter on Google+.

Don’t try to put the genie back in the bottle. Restore the business profiles you have closed. Drop the rule you silently added that blocks business profiles. Let businesses use profiles here just as regular people do. Works just fine on Twitter. Then upgrade those accounts when you’re ready,” he urged Google.

This was in response to a post by Google’s Christian Oestlien who is leading business pages development. Google+ business pages will go live in a few months, only a very few non-human pages will be allowed in the meantime

We have refocused a few priorities and we expect to have an initial version of businesses profiles up and running for EVERYONE in the next few months,” Oestlien wrote. “There may be a tiny handful business profiles that will remain in the meantime solely for the purpose of testing how businesses interact with consumers,” he said.

“We will continue to disable business profiles using regular profiles. We recommend you find a real person who is willing to represent your organization on Google+ using a real profile as him-or-herself,” he proposed.

After all of this, Google finally disabled the profiles of Ford, Mashable, Sesame Street and the other prominent examples. Problem solved! At least, Google was being fair to everyone. Businesses can continue to use their existing profiles if they ‘promise’ a person is managing and representing them. That didn’t last long, Ford is back and so is Mashable in a way, as the blog’s founder Pete Cashmore has taken over the account. Well, he changed the profile picture and the description of the profile, at least.

Interestingly enough, he already has a personal profile, with 40,000 followers, though he says he’ll stop using that. But having two profiles is very likely against Google+’s terms of service as well.

Ford’s profile has a big “Test Account” badge on it, so it is probably the first iteration of the business pages Google has been talking about. There seems to be a change of plans about them as well.

No more beta stage for business profiles

Google asked those interested to be part of a closed beta test to sign up. But after tens of thousands of requests, Google has decided to drop the wide test and instead only have a “tiny” number of companies, in direct communication with Google, create business pages. Ford seems to be the first. In the end, Google is left looking rather poorly. It was clearly a mistake to launch Google+ without business pages and it was unsure on how to enforce its own rules.

As the inconsistencies continued, Google managed to frustrate those that played by the rules, and didn’t create a profile, and those that didn’t, who got their profiles deleted except for the small minority that didn’t. It’s good to see that Google is at least recognizing that it went about this the wrong way. If it managed to fix the situation, it would be even better.

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