Google has just announced a significant new update to Google+ with the introduction of branded ‘Google+ Pages’. From within a Page, fans will be able to join live hangouts, discuss topics, or just follow a brand or topic that interests them. For example, “hang out live with the local bike shop, or discuss our wardrobe with a favourite clothing line, or follow a band on tour”. Users will also be able to +1 a page, as well as add the page to a circle, while page owners can display a new Google+ badge on their site, allowing users to add their Google+ page to a circle without leaving the website. Sites that are linked to Google+ pages will also have their +1’s tallied into a single total.

It looks like just about anyone will eventually be able to create a page,  with categories currently listed including “Local Business or Place”, “Product or Brand”, “Company, Institution or Organization”, “Arts, Entertainment or Sports”, and “Other”. Although, as of right now, the feature isn’t open to the public, but will soon be available to everyone. You’ll eventually be able to create pages at plus.google.com/pages/create. Below is a screenshot of what you’ll see on that page once it’s opened up to the public.

Google also announced pages will be included in search results, while a new feature for search called Direct Connect will allow you to navigate directly to a Google+ page through search by entering “+” prior to the page name. For example, try typing “+Google” or “+Youtube” into Google search. Rather than displaying search results, you’ll be taken directly to the Google+ profile. Direct Connect is an experiment that won’t be available for all pages and users initially, but will roll out over time. You can learn more about Direct Connect here. Video of Direct Connect in action and links to currently live Google+ Pages after the break. 

If you want to check out what the new pages are all about, here are a list of brands and companies that already have live Google+ Pages:

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