Sign up for weekly recaps of the ever-changing search marketing landscape.
The Alphabet of Google+ Direct Connect
A new feature of Google+ is Google+ Direct Connect, where typing the name of a company preceded by a + symbol will make that company’s Google+ Page appear as a suggestion in the search box, in the right circumstances. Who are the lucky few, so far? Here’s an alphabetical rundown, which reveals a number of surprises on how Direct Connect works, along the way:
B & Thoughts About “Regular Suggestion” Opportunities
Burberry makes the list here, oddly followed by Angry Birds.
Bank of America and Best Buy are regular suggestions and don’t appear to have official pages made, yet. Chances are, when they do, given that they’re already suggested as general search topics, they might find Direct Connect works for them.
C & How Matches Don’t Have To Start With Letter Searched
Google Chrome, Coldplay, the Dallas Cowboys and DC Comics all appear, showing that Direct Connect is looking at more than whether your name actually begins with the letter that was entered. Rather, is the letter appearing anywhere in the name? Notice how the actual letter entered is shown in non-bold text, as a sign that this is why the suggestion appears.
Dell leads the D list, followed by the Dallas Cowboys and DC Comics.
No page gets Direct Connect treatment for E, though it’s pretty clear that eBay, ESPN, Expedia and Etsy all stand a good chance, given they’re already search suggestions.
F & Would Facebook Do Google+?
Fox News is the only company in the F suggestions.
Facebook appears as a regular suggestion for this. If it made a Google+ Page, it probably would get a Direct Connect link. But would it?
Why not? Google has a page of its own on Facebook, with 4.5 million fans. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has also been on Google+ since it began and until recently, Zuckerberg was the most followed person on Google Plus. Of course, he never posted. So, we’ll see.
G Is For Google, Google, Google
G stands for Google, as in Google, Google Maps, Gmail and Google+ all being listed. By the way, the easiest way to find a list of all official Google accounts is to check those listed in the main Google page’s circles
H & Thinking About Your Tag
H&M is the only company listed for H, so far. Also notice the description under its name. This is a good time to point out that this is drawn from the “tag” that you assign to your page. Give that tag some thought, since what you say might help drive clickthrough.
Hotmail and Hulu don’t appear to have pages. Home Depot does appear to have an official one, which would make it one of the rare big brands not yet rewarded with Direct Connect.
I Is For iDon’tThinkAppleGetsSocial
So far, no one gets listed for I. But looking at the suggestions of iPhone 5, Ikea, IMDB and iTunes, some observations.
Apple is pretty notorious for not doing social media well, at least in my opinion. No Twitter account. No Facebook page (though the App Store has one). Here, you can see how if Apple maintained Google+ Pages for the iPhone 5 and iTunes, it would probably get Direct Connect display. Of course, it would have to make an iPhone 5, first!
It highlights the point we made yesterday. You can have more than one Google+ Page, so having them for your overall business and individual products makes a lot of sense.
As for Ikea, there is a page for what might be Ikea Israel listed. There’s also a page that looks to be real for IMDb, but there’s no way to know for certain right now.
J Is For Justin Bieber Page Or Personal Account?
There are no Direct Connect options for J, but JetBlue, JC Penney, Justin TV and Justin Bieber all appear as search suggestions. The first three don’t appear to have pages yet.
As for Justin Bieber, he’s got two pages already, but it’s unclear (and seems unlikely) if either is official. But Justin also poses another issues. If you’re a popular individual, do you go the page route or personal account route?
Having a page gives you a possible Direct Connect reward. But if you want to be sharing on the service personally, you’ll probably want a personal account. Do both, and are you splitting your fan base or causing confusion? The answer will depend on the individual.
K & Localization Issues
Kia Motors is the only Direct Connect listed for K. Kaiser, Kayak and Knott’s Berry Farm appear as suggestions. Knott’s raises an important point about localization.
I did all these searches logged out of Google, using incognito mode in Google Chrome, so that I could help minimize any personalization. Logged in, I do tend to get the same suggestions, by the way. But even logged out and in incognito, there’s one personalization aspect that can’t be hidden: my geographic location.
Knott’s Berry Farm is an amusement park near me in Orange County, California. That’s almost certainly why I see that suggestion while someone in a different geographic location might get other suggestions.
So while I’m showing an alphabet here, that alphabet may vary a little — or a lot — depending on your location. To understand more about this, see our past article, How Google Instant’s Autocomplete Suggestions Work.
No Direct Connect picks, but I do get LA Times, Lowes, LinkedIn and LA County Fair as suggestions. You can see how the geographic personalization is influencing the LA Times and LA County Fair from appear, and perhaps Lowes.
Interestingly, the LA Times does have an official page, with over 6,500 followers so far. But that isn’t triggering, nor does it trigger if I enter +Los Angeles Times.
The New York Times gets a Direct Connect listing here, proclaiming amusingly that it has “All the news that’s fit to +”. Fox News and ABC News, seen before for other letters, also appear. Nexflix appears as a suggestions; there is a Netflix page which might be real, but it’s hard to tell.
No Direct Connect suggestions, only regular search suggestions: OC Fair, Office Depot, Orbitz and OC Register. The first and last are clearly being personalized to me based on my location. Office Depot doesn’t appear to have a page yet. Orbitz does have one, but with only one follower, it might not be real.
Pepsi tops the Direct Connect suggestions. There’s also a page for Pepsi parent company PepsiCo, which appears real and suggests that you’ll see pages for other Pepsi products to come. Coca Cola, by the way, doesn’t appear to have an official corporate page up yet.
After Pepsi, there’s the Phoenix Suns and the Google+ Page seen earlier. Pandora is listed as a search suggestion; it doesn’t have a page yet.
No Direct Connect suggestions for Q. But QVC as one of the search suggestions means the company will probably do well, if it creates a page.
R & What If Two Companies Have The Same Name?
Again, no Direct Connect suggestions. But Ralphs (a supermarket chain), Rate My Profession and Rotten Tomatoes (both websites) and Redfin (a real estate search site) all have opportunities here. None have pages yet. And if Redfin does get one, who will win versus the existing page for Redfin Solutions?
For S, Direct Connect leads off with Save The Children UK. But there are also pages for Save The Children Spain and Save The Children US. Why does the UK page get the nod?
For one, it was one of the launch partners. It also has far more followers (over 7,000 right now) than the other pages. But this all highlights that for multinational organizations, Direct Connect poses issues, though geographic personalization might help.
We also get the Phoenix Sun, seen before listed, followed by regular suggestions for Southwest and Skype. Skype does have a page up, but it’s hard to tell if it’s real.
And sniff. The Search Engine Land Google+ page doesn’t appear as a suggestion! That’s OK, we’re pretty specialized. Still, we do have nearly 7,000 followers already!
T-Mobile, which appeared for M, makes it to the top of the list of Direct Connect suggestions. Here’s where having your name begin with T pays off.
After that comes Google’s own YouTube, then Target as a regular suggestion. There are plenty of pages matching “target” already on Google Plus, but none of them for the major US retailer. Let the battle begin. If Target makes a page, I’m pretty sure it will win.
Uniqlo gets the only Direct Connect suggestion for U. After that, USPS, UPS and United Airlines all appear. There’s a USPS Stamps personal account already on Google+ (and really shouldn’t be there; unclear if it’s official). UPS and United Airlines don’t appear to have pages but likely would get Direct Connect if they did, I’d say.
No Direct Connect suggestions. As for the regular ones, Verizon leads the list plus Verizon Wireless comes third — and there is an official-looking Verizon Wireless customer support page up. But that has few followers. Victoria Secret and Virgin America, also suggestions, lack Google+ pages.
WWE gets the only Direct Connect suggestion. Companies in regular suggestions are Wells Fargo (which doesn’t have a page) and Walmart (which does, though it’s hard to tell if it’s real).
X & How Direct Connect And Regular Suggestions Coexist
After that comes the regular suggestions, Xbox and Xbox Live, neither which has a Google+ page yet.
The last regular suggestion is for X Games. Yes, they have both a Direct Connect suggestion and a regular one, which highlights that Direct Connect is in addition to any other suggestions related to your company.
Consider this for Amazon:
See how Amazon’s Direct Connect suggestion appears above other regular suggestions related to Amazon, as I typed? Using the + symbol doesn’t just restrict the suggestions to what’s in Direct Connect.
YouTube, which also appeared for T, shows up as the only Direct Connect suggestion for Y. As with X Games, it also appears as a regular suggestion, followed by Yahoo and Yahoo Mail. There is a page claiming to be the official page for Yahoo, as well as one for Yahoo News. Both feel real. Yahoo News has nearly 7,000 followers, yet it doesn’t trigger yet. Perhaps some of the required site linking hasn’t been done.
Finally, there’s Z — and no Direct Connect suggestions here. Zillow and Zappos are companies that appear as regular suggestions. Zappos does appear to have an official page but with less than 200 followers, so far.
Verification & Requirement Issues
Overall, I found the tour through the alphabet of Direct Connect to be time consuming but interesting. It’s pretty clear how important it will be for Google to quickly do verification on large brand pages. It’s pretty easy to fake these.
Indeed, Google+ already still has verification issues with regular accounts. Now we have fake brand pages to contend with. It makes me wonder why — again — some type of website link wasn’t used to allow automatic verification. More thoughts about this are in my post from earlier this year:
Interestingly, while Google says that a website link is required to be eligible for Direct Connect, when I spot-checked both Amazon and Save The Children, neither had the Google+ Pages icon linking back to their Google+ pages from their home pages. Nor did either have the required rel=publisher code installed. Both seem to be manual added by Google.
Be sure to read our background story, A Look At Google+ Direct Connect For Google+ Pages, which explains the requirements that need to be met to be in the running for a Direct Connect suggestion.
And if you’re on Google+, do consider following the Search Engine Land page there!