Should you get a custom URL for your Google+ Page?

by on February 23, 2014

Google Plus Custom URLGetting a custom URL (ie. web address) for Google+ has been around for a while – I brought it up in a previous newsletter from a few months back. (Don’t miss out by signing up for my free updates, chock full of small business marketing ammo.)

A custom URL means that you have an address for your Google+page that is actual words versus a series of numbers.

For example:

https://plus.google.com/104120234294447679194/

And with a custom URL, it would be something like this:

https://plus.google.com/SmallBusinessBliss*

(*I have not yet been approved for a custom URL on my biz profile, see below if you’re in the same boat).

In this post I’d like to touch on why you should get one, how to get one, and what to do if you don’t like the URL you’re assigned.

Do I really need a custom G+ URL?

Generally, if Google offers something up, you can assume that getting on board will put you in their good graces. So if search engine marketing is important to your biz, this is for you! Part of the eligibility for a business page is having a verified website (see below), and certainly Google would give preference to a site that they’ve verified  – their own words on website verification: “It provides Google with information that we can use to help determine the relevancy of your site to a user query on Google Search.” You can also probably assume that the custom URL will give your G+ page more visibility in a branded search and make your business easier to find on G+.

The custom URL is also obviously much nicer and cleaner – easier to remember and suitable to use in any print promo materials, such as business cards.

Finally, it does ensure that you get the URL you want, especially important if there are other businesses out there that have a similar name to yours.

Note: While custom URLs are presently a free option, Google has explicitly stated (in their Terms of Service) that they may start charging for them. Hmmm.

Getting your custom URL

If you were approved for a custom URL (either for your personal profile or your business one) you should have received a notification when logging in to your account. Don’t remember seeing that? Head to the “About” page of your profile, over to your “Links” section and if you’re approved you’ll see “Google+ URL”. This is a great how-to from Social Media Today explaining how to go about setting up your custom URL (with images). Or just follow the steps right from Google+ itself: Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs.

If you’re not approved for your personal profile, make sure you have a profile pic and at least 10 followers. If you don’t have these elements, rather than focusing on the custom URL, you really should focus on polishing up your profile first and getting active – that’s really what’s important. And if your account is brand new (less than 30 days old), just wait a bit.

For a business page, If you don’t see the URL option, that means you’ve got some work to do:

  • For a Local Google+ Page, your business must be verified. The phone verification process is really easy.
  • For a regular Google+ Business Page, you must link it to a website. (Note this is a little bit techy for you small business owners out there that don’t jive with the technical stuff. Contact your web team and if you don’t have one, I can help).

Still don’t have a custom URL?

If you’ve covered all your bases and still don’t have the URL approval, then I would say to just wait it out. For my business page, I’ve had my website verified for ages, my profile is fully filled out, I have a following that is much larger than my personal account (which was given a custom URL right away) and I’m active on the page. So I’m just going to wait and see how it goes. It can take a while for things to roll out to all accounts.

If you have any other ideas for what I could do to get approved, would love to hear from you in the comments!

(This is a good post from Search Engine People that covers off what you need).

What if I don’t like my custom URL?

Unlike Facebook where you can select your URL, on Google Plus your URL is assigned, so in other words you can’t choose what it is. Note that you are able to adjust the capitalization of the assigned URL (just click to edit once you have gone ahead and claimed your URL). Otherwise you can’t change the URL once it’s been set, so if you’re not totally happy with it, keep reading…

One thing that I noticed crop up for several of my clients is that Google requested something be added to the URL. So Google grabbed the brand name, but rather than have that be good as is, they requested additional characters be added. For some businesses this might be alright – it could make sense to add a little descriptor after your business name that makes it clear what it is you do (think your keywords) but for others this won’t work. One of my clients has their keyword as part of their brand name, so there really wasn’t a good viable option.

If you don’t like your URL, you can’t think of extra characters to add that make sense, or you just don’t want to add anything extra, then I would say it’s probably best to wait things out for now. As we know with Google (and all things online), things change. You should be given the option to request a different one, so go ahead and do that. And what I found with the client above was after waiting for a few months (initially the request a different URL thing was not an option when this all rolled out), when I just checked back, they have now been allowed by Google to use the custom URL they want (ie. just their business name). Sometimes, patience is a virtue :)

Do you have a custom URL for your Google Plus profiles? Feel free to link to them in the comments below so that we can get connected!

And I’d love for you to add me to your circles! Here’s my personal profile and follow my business page below:


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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Heather Stone March 7, 2014 at 1:19 am

Hi Martina,
Like you, I guess I’m struggling to see the downside here. Is there one? Google is offering another way for you to differentiate your online reputation. And considering Google search remains one of the greatest arbiters of that reputation, this offer should be considered accordingly.
Heather Stone recently posted..Interpreting The Subtle Differences Between Article Writing And Blogging

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Martina Iring March 16, 2014 at 5:30 am

Agreed Heather – if Google offers something up, it’s generally a good idea to take them up on it. The only downside I can see at the moment is the fact that you can’t change your URL, so make sure that it’s something you really do want.

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Justinfront May 2, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Google will not allow me to use my domain ( I have plenty for the domain ) for my custom URL, but I am currently using it for facebook, skype, github, linkedin and just about everyone else why is google being so annoying about it. I really think googleplus really suck in this respect. They seem to insist on adding custom letters, I tried changing my profile name to match my domain to help me get the custom domain, as people would search for me under my domain but google would not let me and now I have maxed out and ended up with a profile name with a letter missing from my domain. Looks really silly have to wait a year to try to change it…. how useless. Sorry this custom url ‘service’ of googleplus is not really any use to me, and the way profile names are linked to it and need letters etc… is also stupid. It certainly effects my interest in building my googleplus and I only have groups related to one part of my life attached to my googleplus so have virtually no facebook friends on my googleplus account, it seems a service that is really behind facebook on a few fronts i hope they get round to sorting this out. So I disagree with your positivity about G+ custom URL’s they are next to useless for many of us who have built a web presence they just serve to annoy and frustrate us. Googleplus could do better!

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Martina Iring May 5, 2014 at 9:49 am

Hey Justin,
I hear your frustrations! Google definitely doesn’t make it easy. I know that personally when something on Google isn’t really working for me or I hear about problems doing certain things, I just don’t do anything and prefer to wait it out… with the hope that they will sort things out in the future! I personally am still waiting to get my custom URL approval for my business page. Hopefully you’ll find what one of my clients did, that all of a sudden the URL you want is OK. And that you don’t have to wait a year! Appreciate you taking the time to share your thoughts.
Cheers

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Daniel McClintock July 19, 2014 at 3:07 am

If Google is forcing you to add additional text to the end of the brand name that is in your verified url (ie: yourcompany.com gives you google.com/+Yourcompany_____), simply purchase another domain for $1.99, leaving off your last letter. Be sure it’s a .com (any other TLD, and Google will include the TLD in the unchangeable part of their “custom url” schema). Change your site url to this new url and verify it.

When you then set your page’s custom url, just add the final letter of your brand name in the custom field, and voila. After setting your custom url, you can change the page’s site url back to your original domain, and trash the partial domain you purchased for this.

I can personally confirm that this works, as I just did it for a client’s website (using them as an example below, if my instructions were unclear).

Company Name: Lucky Duck Coffee
Company Domain: http://www.luckyduckcoffee.com
Google+ Custom URL: google.com/+Luckyduckcoffee__________ (fml)

Fix Domain Purchased: http://www.luckyduckcoffe.com
- I set dns, added as parked domain in cPanel, & verified in Google Webmaster Tools
- Edited Google+ page site url, changing it to this domain with the missing last character, then verified it instantly with webmaster tools

New Google+ Custom URL: google.com/+Luckyduckcoffe_________
- I added “e” to the end to customize it (thankfully, Google doesn’t have a minimum character limit on the customization field)

Final Custom URL: google.com/+Luckyduckcoffee
- Finally, I edited the site url back to the original primary domain, http://www.luckyduckcoffee.com

NOTE: As I said earlier, ONLY use a .COM tld for this temporary “fix” url before wasting money on generic tlds (unless you really want them). Any other tld (even .CO) still get affixed to the uneditable area of the custom url…as in:
- luckyduckcoffee.com … +Luckyduckcoffee_____
- luckyduck.coffee … +Luckyduckcoffee_____
- luckyduck.club … +Luckyduckclub_____
- acreativecollective.co … +Acreativecollectiveco

Hope this helps a little!

Reply

Martina Iring July 19, 2014 at 3:59 pm

Wow, Daniel, this is so awesome! How clever of you :) Thanks very much for taking the time to share in so much detail the work around you found. It really is very much appreciated!!

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