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Surprise, Surprise, Google+ Pages Becoming Part of Search

Google's ongoing improvements to Pages on its Google+ social network appears to be paying off, after its somewhat limited menu of features at the launch.  Google+ page creation amongst the world's top 100 brands jumped in the last month from 61% to 77% (93% of top 100 brands are on Facebook), while the number of people in circles increased over 50% from 147,000 to 222,000, BrightEdge reports.

Brands like Starbucks nearly quadrupled their social followers in the last month and H&M and Pepsi broke into 20,000-plus people in circles.

More interestingly from a search perspective, Google has begun, as most widely expected it would, embedding Google+ Pages in search, said Jim Yu, CEO of BrightEdge, "just as Facebook's Open Graph tied sites and search together earlier this year, blurring the lines between social and search engagement."

Still the Social Network to Beat

Not that Facebook's position as premier social network is anywhere near in danger. Facebook's referral numbers–one gauge of a social network's health—are far better than Google+'s.

In November, Google+ social media referrals reached a paltry 0.00064%, according to Netmarkeshare. Facebook's rating, by contrast, is 0.64, giving the incumbent social networking site more than 1,000 times the amount of referrals as Google+.

Leading in Ad Impressions

Most relevant to marketers, Facebook also leads in the number of display ads delivered, according to comScore.  It claimed 28% of total display ad impressions in Q3 2011, more than Yahoo (12%), Microsoft (4%), Google (4%), and AOL (3%) combined. In general, social networking leads all content categories in the number of display ads delivered, accounting for more than 1 in 4 US display ad impressions in October 2011, almost 10 points more than portals (19%), comScore found.

However, social networks, although accounting for 21% of page views and 17% of time spent online, only hold a 15% share of estimate display ad spending.

Not that Facebook can breath easy from this report: comScore also noted that Google+ surged to 25 million global users faster than any other social network in history, reaching that figure in less than a month. It took Facebook 36 months and Twitter 33 months to reach that milestone.

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