There's been much discussion lately regarding the fairness, or rather the unfairness, of Google+ activity affecting rankings of (what else?) Google, the search giant. For multiple reasons, Google+ wants to integrate its social activity into the search and ranking process. Google can use the social interactions from Google+ to easily and quickly collect information to help ranking. And, with Google+ playing a part in the ranking, more people are likely to participate. With this switch, Google+ social signals like +1′s can now help a page rank higher.

Obviously, both the social media and search services come from Google, or the 800-pound gorilla as it's called by SEO professionals.

As some of you know, I am relatively new to this space in the technology world, being CEO of Slingshot SEO less than six months. However, I feel like I am earning my doctorate in search engine optimization via a daily lesson or two at a time. However, for this post, I'll refer back to a few remembrances from my non-SEO days in the tech world.

In my manner of viewing Google's current search ranking tactic, I believe it’s following the previous lead of two other notable 800-pound gorillas, Microsoft and Apple. (Notice I mentioned both so as not to rely upon the natural animosity their legions of fans have for each other …)

Let’s begin with the A’s by looking at what Apple did when it introduced the iPod. Did the company exert undue influence when it required the revolutionary and soon to be dominant music device, the ability to only sync with its own Macintosh computers? Or was this exclusivity a remarkably sound business decision, leading to rapid adaption by millions since it made the daily use of the new product so easy? Apple not only thrived with its initial Macintosh-only iPod release in 2005, but also influenced long-time Windows users to make the switch. In addition to expanding its customer base, the iPod also put the Apple Store on the map, expanding Apple's revenue from just products to digital services like movies and music.

Now let’s skip down to the M’s and explore what Microsoft did with its upstart new browser, Explorer. Did Microsoft go too far and exert too much influence by not only bundling the Explorer browser with the market leading Operating System, Windows, but also by making it free and the default setting? Some pundits certainly thought so, while many of us with Microsoft stock considered it brilliant leadership. A few of the pundits asserted that Microsoft's releasing Explorer alongside the Microsoft Operating System was a bit too close to monopolization for comfort.

I, for one, am not naive enough to think Google will be the last large business ever to show its muscle by leveraging a dominant position in one product category or industry while simultaneously introducing a new product or service. In my opinion, this leveraging will be especially common when the new product or service is not an entirely new idea and is already trailing one of two market leaders in the way that Google+ trails Facebook and Twitter.

What's your opinion? Is this type of leveraging a sound business practice, or does it hurt the marketplace?