One of the really interesting features of Google brand pages is the introduction of Google Direct Connect allowing you to jump straight to a Google brand page:
So typing +<Brand> straight into Google now bypasses search altogether and sends you directly to that Google+ brand page:
Google Promoting it’s own Services
Google has a massive advantage over other companies when it comes to promoting their own services, as they can piggy back on a search business that is serving billions of searches per day. The fact Google is now promoting one of it’s own platforms directly from their search engine may be something of a hot issue for other companies like Yelp or Facebook. These issues already formed part of Google’s recent senate hearing. No doubt Google will look to expand Google brand pages allowing multiple pages per company if you are a restaurant and maybe integrating geo targeting to automatically show you the correct page. It will be interesting to see how this is viewed by other brands. With navigational queries (those people searching for a brand name on Google) estimated to be between 10% an 20%, Google could try to change user search habits and get them to simply add the + to drive usage of their Google+ brand pages.
In saying that, if a user has added + before their brand page, then they have shown clear intent to bypass search and go directly to Google+, so there can’t really be complaints from other review type companies.
Either way, it’s going to be interesting to see how Google expand on brand pages and if it will have any kind of effect on review type sites like Yelp who pick up a lot of search traffic around brand. For me, the most annoying thing about all of this is Google’s retirement of the + search operator for direct connect.
What do you think about Google Direct Connect ? Is it fair of Google to promote their own services via search in this way ?