Google is now embedding their popular new product Google+ with their already dominant SEM position. They are now integrating Google+ brand page information in the primary search results.
BrightEdge has been tracking Google+ brand pages since they were launched on November 7th. However, the integration was not noted until December 20th when identified in the search results for “AT&T.”
According to BrightEdge’s VP-Marketing, Brad Mattick, the addition of Google+ brand pages allows marketers to incorporate promotional messages directly in search results. This allows for a much larger audience through Google’s natural search results than it would gain from the brand page alone.
While AT&T appears to be one of the first brands to gain brand page recognition in natural search results, a recent search for Toyota also yielded two Google+ entries. Other examples of brands displaying Google+ in their search results are T-Mobile and Macy’s.
A recent tool rolled out by Google, Direct Connect makes it easy for users to find and follow Google+ brand pages through a search by incorporating the “+” in their search.
A representative from Google offered the following declaration about the search results: “Content from the +Page, such as recent posts, will appear as annotations attached to its associated web page under the site links in search results if that site is eligible for Direct Connect. It uses the same bi-directional link and algorithmic criteria as Direct Connect.”
With this integration of Google+ brands pages into search results, there is a huge incentive for brands to join and become active on Google+. Mattick has compared merging Google+ and search results to Microsoft’s inclusion of the Internet Explorer in its Windows OS in the 90’s.
When Microsoft used its near-monopoly in Windows to beat Netscape in the browser segment, it caught the attention of The U.S. Department of Justice.
Even though Google’s search market share is comparably less than Microsoft’s share at the time of the IE bundling, the move is attracting some unwanted attention for Google. Two U.S. Senators have requested the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google’s business practices. Could Google be abusing their dominance in the market to persuade brands to become active on Google+? What do you think?