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Is Google Direct Connect Smart Google+ Marketing...or Blackmail?
By: Christine Geraci
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Yesterday, Google launched business pages on Google+. Then, Google strapped a stick to each business’s proverbial head, each with a delicious carrot hanging just out of nibbling range.
That “carrot” is otherwise known as Google Direct Connect.
This feature essentially allows any business with a Google+ page to instantly jump to the top of Google's search rankings. If the business you’re looking for has a Google+ page, all you have to do is type a “+” in front of the company name in the search box, and a link to the company’s Google+ page will apparently show up right under the search box. Hit “enter,” and you’re taken directly to the G+ page in question.
As of this writing, Google Direct Connect was not yet universally available, even though it’s prominently touted as a feature when you successfully create a Google+ business page.
To quote Google: “For websites that qualify, Direct Connect makes it easy for users to find your Google+ page from Google Search.” Right now, only a certain number of pages “qualify.” But more should get their special party passes soon.
So, what does it take to qualify?
Your page needs to play nice with Google’s algorithm. According to Google’s Help page for Direct Connect, Google uses “certain signals” to “help understand your page’s relevancy and popularity.” So, presumably, if your page isn’t popular, or if you’re not very active on the page, this counts against you big time.
You need a link to your website on your Google+ page, and vice versa. That’s how Google puts two and two together and begins deciding if your page is worthy for Direct Connect.
Add the Google+ icon to your website. By using this code to add a Google+ badge to your website, you clue Google in even more to how worthy you are to use Direct Connect.
In short, you have to advertise Google+ for free.
There’s always a catch, isn’t there?
Businesses currently pay Internet marketing firms major money to make sure their websites rank higher in Google searches. Then, Google comes along and says, “How would you like to instantly rise so high in our searches that your link shows up before the actual search results?” What businesses wouldn’t want to know more?
And now we know the answer: All your business has to do is promote Google+ by creating a page, actively using that page, then linking that page to death.
Is that smart marketing for a social platform…or just good old-fashioned blackmail?

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About the Author
Christine Geraci is the Social Media/Promotions Specialist at MVP Health Care in Schenectady, NY. Connect with her on Twitter @christinegeraci.
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