When Your Blog Design Angers Google+



Who would have thunk it? Google is checking out your blog.

And not for SEO purposes.

Or a Mascarpone Espresso Chocolate Swirl Cheesecake recipe. mmm yum yum good.

Instead, Google’s reviewing how you’re incorporating their branding into your blog design.

Have custom social media icons?



I was pretty darn surprised when my girlfriend Vidya received an email from Google.

Thanks for being a valued partner and using the Google+ Platform. We’ve recently become aware that your use of this feature does not follow our branding guidelines at https://developers.google.com/+/branding-guidelines.

In particular, we identified an issue with your Google+ Page follow icon. Our review found that your icon’s logo, color, or button text is incorrect.

To correct this particular issue, simply ensure that your custom icon adheres to our branding guidelines. Please review these guidelines and update your implementation (project id http://vidyasury.com).


Branding guidelines…gosh, is there anything Google doesn’t have a guideline for?

What’s funny is, Vidya is using a previous version of the Google Plus issued icon.

I’d like to get really pissed about this in defense of bloggers who invest in custom designed blogs and on behalf of social media icon designers…but the truth is, I can’t.

Yes I believe that the design and color of the social media icons on your blogs lends to the overall aesthetics of the design, but the truth is, the visuals created for a blog or business’s branding is a financial and time investment. And that applies to the Google business empire too.

And Google is extremely specific with their team when it comes to how visuals for their branding is designed. Check out this screenshot from the Google Visual Assets Guidelines meant for their design team.

google branding

Google’s super crazy precise with everything down to the position of the tiniest shadow. So who are we to change it?

Google+ icon branding guidelines

We prefer that you do not change or remake the icon in any way. But, if you display multiple third-party social icons together on your app, you can customize the Google+ icon to match your app’s style provided that all buttons are customized using a similar style:

  • Same color and visual treatment.
  • Same shape and size.

You must not change the font of the “g” or the position of the “+” symbol in the icon and the aspect ratio must be preserved. The “g+” must always be centered in the icon.

Here’s Vidya’s social media icons. I don’t believe she’s violating their guidelines unless they’re cranky that it’s their old icon.

social media icons

What to do if you have custom social media icons.

First off, if you have a custom G+ icon on your blog, don’t rush to change it because you’re reading this post. Instead, wait for the warning. Hell, you may never receive one so just carry on with your life, no biggie.

However if you do receive a warning, remove the icon.

As a designer, I won’t suggest replacing the icon with their orange version.

Screen Shot 2014-03-03 at 5.40.50 AM





Cause that’s just ugly.

Instead, I suggest removing the icon if the orange does not fit with your design.

Of course removing the icon may bring along two new issues.

1. How can you encourage people to follow you on Google plus.

2. How does removing the icon affect your google authorship.

Alternative ways to encourage visitors to follow you on Google Plus:

1. Add a Google Plus follow button to your sidebar:

Or add the badge:

2. Some social media sharing plugins offer the ability to add follow buttons along with the sharing buttons at the bottom of your posts. Dig around your social sharing plugin’s settings.

3. Some themes allow for a bio box at the end of posts that also include the ability to add your social media profile links.

4. Ask at the end of your post with a link to your G+ profile.

How does removing the icon affect your google authorship? 

One of the easiest ways to verify your authorship with Google Plus is to add a link from your sidebar to your google plus profile [and vice versa]. Many people achieve this with their custom G+ social media icon.

If you remove your icon, one of the options above should fix this issue but I suggest visiting the rich snippet tool to confirm that your authorship markup is still in place.

If you receive this message:

Authorship is not working for this webpage.
Authorship can be explicitly established via two primary methods: email verification or rel=author markup. Keep reading for more details on the implementation of each method for this page. Learn more

follow the instructions accessible via the Learn More link or install and configure the WordPress plugin Authorsure By Russell Jamieson.

The Authorsure Setting page may seem overwhelming at first, but there’s a lot of good options in their to assist in claiming authorship in the search engine results for your content.

The Take Away

Don’t sweat the small stuff. There’s always another bus on the way.  another way to encourage visitors to follow you on Google without yucking up your blog design.

If you found this post helpful, I’d appreciate you sharing it on Google+.

P.S. If you’ve been wondering where the hell I’ve been the past few weeks or how to add +1 buttons anywhere in your post as I did above…
weird right? What the heck does one have to do with the other?

I’ve partnered with two super broads, Poppy and Tammy, to launch the Blogging Betties Podcast  – the weekly podcast where you can hear interviews with bloggers you totally love. . . but also sort of secretly hate because they’re kicking ass – & Blog, where you’ll find easy to follow tips to improve your blog. For example, stuff like adding +1 buttons anywhere in your post.

blogging-bettiesLogoSee? Not so weird after all.
Be sure to stop by BloggingBetties.com and sign up for our mailing list. We’ll holler atcha’ when we launch.




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  1. says

    Holy cow, it is bad enough that I have no clue what the heck I am doing half of the time (which is why I have 1-800-Vanita on speed dial) but to know that my site might possibly be monitored to make sure I didn’t move the plus sign 1/32″ to the right in my sharing buttons.is crazy! Congrats on the new site but I have a request… I want Poppy to braid my hair and use a scrunchie to hold it. She’ll know what that means!
    Cher recently posted…Build a Rocking ChairMy Profile

  2. says

    I’m totally going to go with the “bury my head in the sand” option here. At least I know where to find options if they come calling. (Oh and I can’t wait for the podcast, it’s going to be awesome!)
    Poppy recently posted…Milking the Man ColdMy Profile

  3. says

    Great post! Very informative. I didn’t see this coming, I thought google would just be happy they’re invited to the party. What a bunch of micromanagers! Uh oh..is this silly comment going to move me to the front of the line? lol ps. love the “confirm you are not a spamming mutant frog from the planet gorlox.” HAHAAH!
    Rebeccafaith recently posted…Ben Sauer – Miracle NeededMy Profile

  4. says

    Geez…just one more thing for Google to control. I wish I could just relax and enjoy my hard work for a while, but nope, always got to stay on my toes …thanks Google. But as a marketer, I understand the need to have guidelines and to keep all things Google looking like all things Google. Thanks Vanita for the heads up! And I totally signed up for you podcasts…
    LindySez recently posted…Pork Picadillo EmpanadasMy Profile