Google+ has generated a lot of buzz among social media marketers, but the network may be just as useful to search engine marketers.

Google+ has generated a lot of buzz among social media marketers, but the network may be just as useful to search engine marketers. Search Engine Land's Danny Sullivan recently reported the company's new social network may also improve search engine rankings.

Sullivan found that Ford appeared of on the first page of his Google search results when he entered “cars” in the query field. Sullivan was connected with Ford through Google+, indicating the search engine may use social signals as a modifier for its algorithm.

To test the theory, Sullivan logged out of his Google account and conducted the same search – Ford didn't appear at all in his top 50 results, highlighting the clear SEO benefits of connecting with consumers on Google+.

Google has integrated social signals into its search algorithm before, promoting content shared by searchers' friends. This is similar to how Bing leverages Facebook “like” data to customize its results. What makes this different is that Google+ profiles can be owned by brands rather than individual people, enabling them to directly improve their search rankings from followers.

At the moment, Ford is one of the few brands allowed to operate a business page on Google+, and the American automaker is clearly utilizing social media content to further enhance its reach. Brafton reported that Google, observing the wide-spread demand for brand profiles, has accelerated development of this feature.