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Changes to Google Plus Incorporation into Search

Early adopters of Google+ received another carrot last week when brand searches started returning Google+ profile posts in the right rail of the SERP. Notably, this recent addition to Search+ commandeers the top of the right rail and pushes ads down the page for some brand search and general search queries.

Background

Google began featuring a People and Places on Google+ box in early January when Search+ went live. Broad searches such and “news” or “entrepreneur” returned a box in the right rail. We see a list of three relevant Google+ profiles with high circle counts. No ads were featured beneath these boxes.

Changes

Some branded and general searches started returning a latest post box, which can be shown along with ads on the right rail. This change further acknowledges the importance of Google+ to Google’s overall product strategy as they are likely sacrificing some AdWords revenue to support the new listing.

Google+ is making its case to become the premier platform that helps individuals and businesses establish and benefit from their identity on the web, and Google is willing to exploit its core search product to hurry brands into adoption.

Here are some observed changes that came along with the “latest posts box”.

1.)    AdWords results vary between brand and non-brand search queries. It is possible for ads to show in the right rail beneath Google+ results if a search appears (superficially) to be non-brand.

The search below was for “petmeds”. It returned latest posts but no ads beneath them:

The next search was for “pet med”. This search appears broad enough to trigger ads below the latest posts. Currently, it is unclear how the latest posts box affects click-through of either organic results or ads

2.)    There may be a hierarchy of Search+ extensions in the same way that there was a hierarchy for AdWords Extensions.

A search for “leisurepro” returned nothing in the right rail. Meanwhile, an inexact search for “leisure pro” returned a business listing box in the right rail.

Although the Leisure Pro domain is linked to the Google+ business page, I was not able to construct a query that returned a latest posts box for Leisure Pro. Applying the tilde search operator did not reveal and new Search+ box, but the change did make the query inexact enough to return ads.

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  3. [...] Adopters of Google+ received another carrot last week when brand searches started returning profile posts in the right rail of the SERP. Go [...]