Today Google announced the launch of brand pages for Google+. After months of waiting, businesses and brands are now welcome to join the social network.

Google+ now has 40 million users and more than 100 new features have been launched. Upon launch, you were asked not to create profiles for your brands or businesses with a promise that you’d be able to soon.

Google+ Pages will allow brands, products, companies, businesses, places, and groups to establish a presence on the social network. While similar in design to Facebook Pages, Google is sure to integrate elements of Google+ pages deep into search.

The Pages will be similar to current Google+ profiles. You will be able to place people into Circles so you can share content with specific communities. You’ll also be able to launch video Hangouts – great for face-to-face conversations. Additionally Pages will work through the site’s mobile app.

A major difference between Google Profiles and Pages is that a Page can’t add someone to a Circle until that user adds the Page to one of his or her Circles. This feature means that the user is still in control of what content he or she receives. Pages also have a +1 button and an “Add to Circles” button, which lets the Page send a user updates.

A user can also type +YourBrandName into Google Search and they will be asked if they’d like to add your brand to one of their Google+ Circles. If the answer is yes, the behavior will become automatic so any time that user searches +BrandName they will immediately start following those Pages. To start using this feature – which Google is calling Direct Connect – you will need to add a snippet of code to the official website of your brand or business.

Google+ Pages offer you another avenue for creating brand awareness and engaging with your customers. As more individuals create profiles on the social network, it will be important to have a presence there.

Update: Currently it appears that Google is rolling out Pages to select brands, and will continue with its public roll out soon.

Update (3:58p.m.): It now looks like brands and businesses of all sizes are welcome to create profiles on Google. You can do so by visiting Create a Page.

[Via: Mashable]