Now that Google allows businesses and brands to join its social network, the search giant has devised a way to make it extremely simple to find any business or brand on its Google+ social network. With Google Direct Connect, a user only needs to type a + before the business or brand in the search bar to instantly be taken to that business' Google+ profile page.

So far Google+ has focused on connecting people with other people, said Vic Gundotra, Google's senior VP of social development. But we want to make sure you can build relationships with all the things you care about-from local businesses to global trends.

The new Google+ brand pages allow users to add companies and brands like Macy's and the Muppets to their circles, so the user is always up-to-date with new photos and news from that brand. In return, each new follower increases the brand's follower count.

Direct Connect gives Google a big advantage over other social media brand pages on Twitter and Facebook by being directly accessible through search. Using the + operator doesn't show the Google+ page as the first result; instead, searching in this way now automatically lands the user on the Google+ page, which effectively makes it act as a direct link. No other operator besides + sends the user directly to another website.

Google needed to change the function of the + in search in order to make Direct Connect work. Prior to Google's alteration, entering a + operator into the search box required any word after the plus sign to be found in the search results, which is also accomplished by putting quotation marks around the words.

By linking up Google+ with search, Google will effectively drive more traffic to its fledgling social network and boost the click-through rate for its pages. Google doubly wins if it chooses to place ads on Google+.

Google is currently testing the new Direct Connect function with a limited number of partners, including Toyota, YouTube, Pepsi and Angry Birds, but plans to roll out the feature to other brands in the near future.