Social Media Vanity URLS

When you create a business page on various social network sites, you’ll often be given a URL made up of a string of numbers and letters like this:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Legal-Researcher/176095409145962

This is not only impossible for clients and would-be clients to remember but looks pretty bad on your business cards, website and anywhere else you decide to use it. It also doesn’t work at all when it comes to verbal sharing – imagine trying to tell someone to visit the above Facebook page! Fortunately most social media sites allow you to change the URL to your business name, known as a vanity URL. For example:

https://www.facebook.com/legal.researcher.services

Facebook now allows you to choose a vanity URL when you set up your page, before you’ve even got any likes (they used to require that you got at least 25 likes before you could choose a vanity URL but this is no longer the case):

Facebook-set-up-page

If, however, you’ve had a Facebook page for a while, you’re likely to still have one of the old unfriendly URLS and so it’s worth making the change.

Setting a vanity URL instead of the default string of numbers and letters takes just a few minutes, looks more professional and is far better for your business branding, both online and off. It can also provide additional visibility for your business in the search engine results pages (SERPs). In this article, we’ll cover how to pick a good vanity URL and how to set it on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Choosing a vanity URL

Your vanity URLs on each social media account should be based on your business name and brand. Ideally, you should use the same vanity URL on each of your social profiles, which provides brand consistency and makes it very easy for clients and would-be clients to find and follow you. If this isn’t possible (and it often isn’t on Google+ where the vanity URL is chosen for you), try to make them as similar as you can. Here are some additional tips for choosing a good vanity URL:

  • Keep it short and simple – ideally no more than two or three words.
  • Make your choice easily recognisable as your business – try and think about what people would search for in Google to find you, and what is likely to show up in the results. If, for example, you own a local business called ‘Phone Repairs’, this is very generic and you might want to consider adding a location to your vanity URL to help it stand out.
  • Capitalising the first letter of each word can help make the vanity URL more readable – for example, MyProofreadingService is easier to read and remember than myproofreadingservice.
  • Try to avoid words that are easily misspelt unless these are an essential part of your business name/brand.

Vanity URLs on Facebook

Facebook has a number of rules and guidelines for vanity URLs. You can only use alphanumeric characters and periods, you can only change the URL once and you won’t be able to transfer the URL to another account. As you might expect, you can’t use names that are trademarked to other people/companies and if you do, you may lose the page at a later date. If you have a trademarked business name and this is already taken, you can contact Facebook for assistance. Finally, although now you don’t need any likes on your page at all to set a vanity URL, Facebook do warn you that your page’s username might be removed if your page has no activity.

To set your vanity URL on Facebook for an existing page, first visit https://www.facebook.com/username and select your page from the drop down menu.

You’ll then have the ability to check whether your desired vanity URL is available:

Facebook-check-availability

Once you find a name that is available and suitable for your business, a dialogue box appears asking you to confirm your choice:

Facebook-user-name-available

Make sure you check the information you’ve entered carefully as once you click confirm, Facebook won’t let you change the name again. Once you’re 100% happy, click the Confirm button. You’ll see a confirmation message

Facebook-confirmation

You’ll note that the old URL now redirects to the new URL so if you’ve used the old URL anywhere, it’ll still work okay until you are able to update it.

Vanity URLs on Twitter:

When you sign up for a Twitter account, Twitter will set your URL to your username so there are no additional steps to take in order to make a vanity URL. Twitter allow you to choose a username of up to 15 characters and you can change it at a later date. To do this, log into Twitter, click on your profile picture and choose ‘Settings’ from the drop down menu. You can then simply change the user name in the user name field. Twitter will check availability for you – and if your chosen username is taken you’ll be asked to choose another. When you’re happy with your changes, click ‘Save changes’ at the bottom of the page.

Vanity URLs on LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows you to easily customise your personal profile URL but customising your company page URL is slightly more tricky. When you set up your company page, the URL is generated automatically based on your company name. If, therefore, you decide you don’t like the URL that was chosen for you any more, or you change your company name, you will need to contact LinkedIn’s customer service team. Log into LinkedIn and visit this URL to contact them: https://help.linkedin.com/app/ask/path/

A quick and easy alternative is to use a link shortening service. You can copy your LinkedIn URL into bit.ly and it will create a linkd.in short URL for you which you can then use on your website, business cards and so on. To do this, just sign up for a bit.ly account and paste your URL in the top box:

bitly

This will create a linkd.in/ short URL which looks something like this:

http://bit.ly/YpsrII

You can then customise it for better branding:

customise-bitly

Vanity URLs on Google+:

The Google+ default page URLs look something like this:

https://plus.google.com/u/0/b/108632656074071342060/108632656074071342060/about

However, you can change this to a vanity URL once you’re eligible, for which there are some requirements. You must:

  • Have a profile photo.
  • Have at least 10 followers.
  • Have an account that’s 30 days old (at least).
  • Have a linked website (for brands and businesses) or have a verified local business.

You’ll usually get an email when you’re eligible, and you’ll see a message at the top of the page:

Google-plus-banner

If you dismiss this and want to revisit it later, go to your page and click ‘About’ and scroll down to ‘Links’ – you can also see there if your page has been approved for a vanity URL:

google-plus-links

When you click ‘Get URL’ you’ll be given some further options:

google-plus-dialogue

You won’t, however, have complete freedom over your Vanity URL – you’ll have to select from the options presented to you. If the suggestions are inappropriate, you can try asking Google to change them to something more apt.  To do this, hover over the top menu on the left and select ‘Feedback’ and send your request:

google-plus-left-menu

You won’t be notified if your request has been accepted but if it has, you will see a change to the vanity URL suggestions including your chosen URL.

Once you’ve chosen your Vanity URL, you can only make minor changes – for example, to capitalisation. In the About tab under Links, click ‘Edit’ and you’ll then be presented with the following:

Google-plus-edit

If you try and change the URL itself, you’ll see an error message warning you that this isn’t possible – for example:

You can’t change your URL from AngelofficesNottingham to AngelofficesNottinghamshire. Only display format edits, such as changing the case of the URL, are allowed.

Note that once you’ve claimed your custom URL, you can use the same Feedback link mentioned above to contact Google if you have a valid reason to need to change it again.

Promoting your vanity URL

Now you’ve got vanity URLs across your social profiles, make sure you promote them to get the most value out of them. Your social vanity URLs can be included on your business cards and letterheads, in brochures and on posters or flyers, at the foot of your emails, in newsletters, on your website and in online ads. Because they are highly memorable and consistent in their branding, they are easy for people to like and share.

TIP: If you’ve chosen vanity URLs in all upper or lowercase because this is consistent with your branding, considering bolding or adding colour to some of the words to help them stand out where they appear (e.g. on your website, business cards, etc). For example: myproofreadingservice or myproofreadingservice.