Google is experimenting with ways to factor +1s from Google+ users, and perhaps also information about the size of users' circles, into its natural search rankings. That's prompting many brands to dial up their activity on Google+ for fear of seeing their search marketing suffer if they neglect the network. "Google's trump card in social is if they make Google+ an extremely strong signal in their ranking algorithm," said Group M Search CEO Chris Copeland. "Basically they can force every brand to push it because of the impact it would have on Google search results."

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