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What Web Marketers Should Know about Google APIs

Although Google+ APIs are a useful tool to web marketers, they are also a moving target. They’re brand-new. They’re constantly changing — and so are the rules.

Presently, Google+’s API does have a few limitations:

  • Publishing to Google+ through an API is limited to select developers. Google+ is gradually opening up its publishing capabilities to select developers — the idea is to give you a way to publish to a news feed on behalf of a user through your website or app.

    At the moment, this feature is available to only a small group of apps that have a legitimate need to publish to Google+. Unfortunately, you have to know the right people at Google to even consider this option.

  • Google+ limits the number of requests per minute (or per hour), so you can’t create high-traffic integrations without Google’s express permission. In order to put a throttle on growth so Google can handle the initial phases of its API rollout, Google is throttling bandwidth to a limited number of requests in a short time period. You’ll have to live by these rules to use the platform.

    However, you can request that Google increase your available request quota if you find your app is using the limit, and you have a legitimate app that isn’t spamming or doing anything sketchy on the Google+ platform. Google is gradually increasing these limits as it grows and solidifies its platform.

  • Google+ is testing a beta of a feature they call Google History, where users can vet what apps publish to their news feed. Google History is a tool that lets users choose which items published by apps go to their news feed. It’s intended as a way to prevent the spam that some users have received on Facebook and other social networks.

    To the side of the Google+ interface, a History link offers users the chance to select and approve specific posts from apps, as shown here. The area is completely private until users approve each item and specify that it go to the circles they want to publish to. Although Google History is still in the works, look for it to launch soon.

One highly useful magic trick you can do with the Google+ API is retrieve content. For example, you can go through a user’s news feed and retrieve individual posts or comments on those posts. You can retrieve the photos that the user posts, the events he or she participates in, and the Hangouts he or she joins or starts.

Being able to get this content means you can build some unique experiences on your website or app. Here are a few ideas:

  • You notice a user is participating in a Hangout. You can post a link that the user is participating in the Hangout and allow that user’s friends visiting your website to join them, right from your website.

  • You have an Events page for events related to your brand. From that page, you can show the other events a user’s friends are attending.

  • You allow the user to create a profile on your website or app. You let that user pull from his or her list of Google+ photos to create a profile photo for your website or app.

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