Earlier this month Google announced the quasi-launch of custom URLs, and today some users have noted that they are available for both profiles and brands. Unlike Facebook who had open enrollment for vanity URLs, Google is slowly rolling out vanity URLs to those they deem most important. If you qualify, a small grey banner will appear with the URL that you’ve been pre-approved for and a blue “Claim URL” button.
If you are one of the chosen profiles or pages, you’ll see the following message:
As noted, this happens not just for personal accounts but also pages. We saw the message come up for our Search Engine Land page, now available at https://plus.google.com/+SearchEngineLand. Later, it appeared for our Marketing Land page, https://plus.google.com/+MarketingLand.
Issues With Rollout; Future Charge?
Like some of the announcements and features in Google+, this is an absolutely horrific implementation. Instead of opening to all users, Google is playing favorites a with their mysterious rollout. This mirrors the botched Pages implementation that was also disastrous.
With pages, Google was allowing some companies to participate with test accounts while others were ignored, same with the new vanity URLs. Instead of opening up with a first-come, first-serve, users have to sit back and wait to join others who have been chosen before them.
Postscript: Chris Chabot, from Google+ developer relations, commented below:
A first come first serve basis seems like a great approach, until you realize that there’s probably 20 britney spears’ who registered before the famous one did – but we’d do the many hundreds of millions of britney spears fans a disservice ifgoogle.com/+britneyspears didn’t point to the famous britney spears’s profile.
So the approach is simple – we’re starting with the high profile well known people and brands – and will be expanding from there – we also have some great solutions for the ‘John Smith’s’ of the world.
There’s also some concerns being voiced on Google+ itself about the terms for the new names, which suggest they might turn into a fee-based system:
Custom URLs are free for now, but we may start charging a fee for them. However, we will tell you before we start charging and give you the choice to stop participating first.
If a charge is added later, after people start promoting and using their names, will businesses and individual feel stuck?
Picking A Different Name
Google’s posted news about the rollout on Google+ itself, and there is a way to request a different name than what’s offered:
If you do that, you’ll get another box:
Using this, you can request another name, but it has to be something that would be seen as associated with you. From the FAQ page about Google+ custom URLs:
If you’re not happy with the recommended custom URL, you have the option of requesting a different one. Custom URLs should reflect a name that you or your organization is commonly known by
If you are looking to claim a vanity URL, we’d recommend you regularly check your profile to see if you’ve been selected by Google. It should also be noted that once the URL is selected, you cannot change it.