Google+ is taking the first step toward what will be a big and important change that could help uptake and activity on the year-old social network: vanity/custom URLs.
Limited Availablity, At First
Google employee Saurabh Sharma announced the news on Google+, saying that vanity URLs will initially only be available on a limited basis:
At first, we’re introducing custom URLs to a limited number of verified profiles and pages. But over time we plan to offer custom URLs to many more brands and individuals, so please stay tuned!
Brands, Celebrities & The Oatmeal
Matthew Inman, the artist behind The Oatmeal comic still doesn’t have a vanity URL of his own, despite his wish earlier this year. Inman, who’s well-followed on Google+, had joked:
I still wish I could set up a fancy profile URL so I don’t have to link people to http://plus.google.com/blergasdf1234thimbleturdorgasm99meatpoopypoopxv9donkeypie when I want them to follow me.
Last night, TechCrunch reported that the joke URL that Inman made up started redirecting to his actual profile. That’s not the same as having his own vanity name, such as http://plus.google.com/+matthewinman.
Someday, Everyone Will Have Their Own Name
Eventually, Google says, vanity URLs will “be available to people and pages worldwide.” But there’s no word on when or how that will happen.
This is a big and important step for Google. Profile URLs (like mine — plus.google.com/108652640482631482795/) are long, ugly, and essentially impossible to promote. The Boston Celtics, for example, can easily advertise their @Celtics Twitter handle right on their home court flooring, but they wouldn’t dare try doing anything similar with plus.google.com/116274984352579031823.
At Google’s I/O conference in June, Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz revealed that custom URLs would be coming soon, and admitted that users “shouldn’t have to give someone a 16-digit number” to connect with another Google+ user.