Google+ remained a hot topic in this week's internet marketing news. Here's Brafton's take on the search giant's social network and other issues that generated online marketing headlines for the week ending July 29.

This week, Google+ (once again) dominated the internet marketing news as the blossoming social network continued to prove its social, content and search marketing worth.

At the beginning of the week, marketers who had tried to get a head start on building a Google+ presence for their brands were presented with a setback as the company started deleting branded profiles. Google had given forewarning about this mass account deletion; as Brafton reported, the social giant announced business profiles made prior to the release of its Google+ pages for businesses would be removed. (And last week, Google+ product manager Christian Oestlien said the company would be accelerating the release of business pages.)

In addition to business pages being deleted, several individual users found their accounts were deleted. The result was the first round of negative backlash against Google’s social network. Simultaneously, reports emerged suggested that traffic to Google+ is slowing down and users are spending less time on average on the site this week compared to last.

Nonetheless, as Brafton reported, Google CEO Larry Page says that the site is still enjoying high-levels of activity. He indicated that “1 billion items are sent and received [on Google+] in a single day.”

This should be good news to content marketers as it indicates that the social site is a key distribution channel. Plus, a number of marketers have shared insight on how Google+ drives social traffic to their content pages. Larry Kim of WordStream reports that Google+ surpasses LinkedIn as a social traffic driver. Similarly, Brafton reported that Google+ has overtaken Facebook in terms of driving social traffic to our content pages – and the quality of this traffic may speak to the site’s potential as a conversion funnel.

Of course, not all Google+ traffic will be good traffic. Taking advantage of how the social network has captured consumers’ and businesses’ attention, new sites have cropped up that offer Google +1’s for sale. For instance, Plussem.com offers up to 2,000 +1’s for under $400. Of course, marketers should remember that these cheap schemes are not sustainable ways to garner +1s – and the potential benefits of building meaningful Google+ connections with prospects are worth the effort.

While the social advocacy of Google+ is driving traffic, a new report indicates +1s may also fuel SEO and search traffic. Search Engine Land’s Danny Sullivan reported that he has seen the search advantages of building Google+ connections for your brand first hand.  His connection to Ford on Google+ pushed the company up to the first page in search results for the query “cars.” With this in mind, marketers might want to claim their Google+ business pages as soon as the feature becomes widely available to boost their rankings among logged-in searchers.

Speaking of Google SEO, the company announced that Panda 2.3 is now live. As Brafton reported, Google says there are “new signals” being used to determine sites’ quality. While the company is being vague about what these signals are, the development of social metrics (and +1 metrics, in particular) seems to give more weight to Matt Cutts’ earlier implication that +1 might become a ranking signal. Marketers will want to monitor their page rankings in the post Panda 2.3 searchscape, and perhaps check to see if +1s (or lack thereof) could be hurting or helping their sites…

Of course, page speed might be another SEO factor playing into the 2.3 update. To this end, Brafton reported that Google unveiled a new Page Speed Service to automatically help marketers make their pages load faster. Prices are still being determined, but before marketers invest in this SEO tool, they might want to see if it will actually improve their site speed; as Brafton reported, the service slows down load times for Brafton.com pages.

The search giant’s fledgling social network wasn’t the only player in the social media marketing space to make headlines this week. Facebook unveiled a new Facebook for Business service this week. The tool is a guide for brands looking to maximize their Facebook exposure, but many industry analysts take it as an effort on Facebook’s part to remain relevant as marketers’ attention shifts toward Google+.

Twitter was also a news topic this week, as the company announced that it is now easier for brands to share Promoted Tweets with their followers. “We’re introducing a way to ensure that the most important Tweets from the organizations you follow reach you directly, by placing them at or near the top of your timeline,” it said in its blog.

The microblogging site also announced a new search feature this week. Search.twitter.com can now be found at twitter.com/search, the company tweeted. The company says the new search tools will help users find more relevant social content results, which might remind marketers of the value of sharing search-optimized content with their fans and followers.

Of course, some content marketers (and searchers) were up in arms when it was revealed that Bing is testing the incorporation of search ad results in organic listings on page one. The company is clearly marking the paid results as “Ads,” but SEO and content marketers who have worked to provide information that organically achieves high rankings are annoyed, and it seems some consumers are also upset about the fact that paid inclusion results are now appearing front and center on SERPs. (A debate about this inclusion was sparked in the comment section of Brafton’s related article.)

The value of content for social media was made clear this week. As Brafton reported, marketing experts agree that integrated content marketing is key to social media success. This means businesses should consider how they can best distribute consistent, branded content across search, social and email channels for maximum results.

Investing in content marketing – for social media and sites – is also a good way to boost revenue. Brafton covered one case study shared by a B2B firm indicating that blog content marketing generated 15 percent revenue lifts for its business.

Next week, businesses might expect to hear even more news about Google+ as brands eagerly await the company’s launch of business pages. Also, the debate may continue surrounding Bing’s decision to add paid search results to organic results on SERPs. Stay tuned!

Katherine Griwert is Brafton's Marketing Director. She's practiced content marketing, SEO and social marketing for over five years, and her enthusiasm for new media has even deeper roots. Katherine holds a degree in American Studies from Boston College, and her writing is featured in a number of web publications.