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Google launches guide to using Google+ Pages

The search giant has put together an online guide to help businesses figure out how to create, use, and monitor a Google+ Page.

Screenshot by CNET

Companies looking to socialize through a Google+ Page may want to check out an online guide that explains how to take advantage of Google's new business feature.

Rolled out on Monday, Google+ Pages finally bring the social network to the business world, allowing companies of all sizes to post updates about themselves and their products or services. People who follow a Google+ Page can comment on or share the company's posts, creating running conversation threads. Businesses can also set up hangouts where they can chat directly with potential customers.

To help companies get started, Google has created its online guide to show them how to create a page, promote it, and measure its effectiveness.

Google first takes you to a spot where you can create your page by filling in all the necessary details. Once the page is up and running, the first trick is to get some buzz going. So Google advises businesses to start sharing items of interest--updates on your products, the latest news on your company, photos, videos, and anything else that might draw some attention.

If people start commenting on your posts, the next step is to ramp up some conversations. Respond to their questions and comments, and even ask them questions. Setting up a hangout is also a way to engage people directly since it lets you chat with customers and colleagues via video. Finally, businesses will want to manage their circles of users so that they're sending the right message to the right people.

Promotion is next on the to-do list, according to Google. Companies will want to connect their own Web site with their Google+ page using a Google+ badge to tie both of them together. Using the +1 button on your Web site is also key to promoting yourself. And just getting off the ground, a feature called Google+ Direct Connect lets people find your business through a Google search by entering the + symbol in front of your page name.

Finally, companies will want to track how well their page is doing to see if any tweaks are needed. Google advises them to use Google+ search to look for keywords about their product or service. Businesses can also use Google Analytics to measure the popularity of their page. Google is promising additional features to help companies determine the effectiveness of their pages.

Another piece of advice not mentioned by Google is to check out pages created by other companies to learn what they're doing right or doing wrong. Google has naturally set up pages for its own products, but a variety of other businesses have followed suit, including CNET.