An Alternative to Google Plus ‘Custom’ URLs

By May 20, 2014 March 3rd, 2022 28 Comments

google-plus-240pxGoogle Plus offers local businesses with a verified listing the option of adding what Google calls a custom URL for their local Plus page. My suggestion: Don’t use Google’s custom URL. If you need a memorable URL for your Plus page, create your own.

One objective of online marketing is to control and increase the equity and visibility of those web assets that you do control. While Google Plus custom URLs increase Google’s visibility and brand equity they do little to enhance yours and more importantly might at some point become a liability for your business.

Google Plus custom URLS really are not custom at all. Google assigns these URLs in an arbitrary fashion and offers little in the way of customization. You essentially have two choices: Accept what they offer or don’t.

These URLS are often longer then they need to be and while you can make alternative suggestions to Google, you may or may not receive alternative URL choices. If you do accept the URL and give it out to clients, you are essentially promoting Google every time you do so rather than your own business.

OK, so that isn’t so bad. What is bad is that once you have accepted the custom URL, you can’t change it. Ever. You are essentially stuck with it. Google currently offers no way to rebrand your custom URL, and if you decide to change business names you are stuck with the “custom” URL referring to your old business name like this business.

This all may change in the future, but there is a safer strategy that is more consistent with your long-term branding needs and provides you with complete control, forever, over what URL you give out to your clients: redirect a vanity URL from your domain to your Google Plus page.

A Better Solution For Sharing Your Google+ Url

If you have WordPress there is a simple to use plug-in that easily allows you to create a permanent redirect called Redirection. If you are not using WordPress, you can add a permanent redirect to your site by adding a line of code to your .htaccess file. Here are instructions, but if you are not technical, your web developer or host should be able to help with the process.

Thus, you would give your clients a URL like that would automatically send users to Even if you already have a custom URL, it still makes sense to give your clients the redirected URL rather than Google’s.

Going forward, you will be able to hand out a URL like or that takes a user to your Google Plus page.

You will always “own” that URL and, when you give it to clients, not only is your web brand reinforced (rather than Google’s), but if your name were to ever change you will have complete control over the redirected URL and can simply create a new redirect if needed.

Marketing on the web can be a complicated process, but if you keep in mind the principle that you always want to build and control your web equity rather than the equity of others, you can come up with tactics that will provide long term and ongoing benefits and avoid future pitfalls.

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  • Phil Rozek says:

    Great workaround, Mike.

    But it begs a two-part question:

    Besides when requesting a review, when would a business owner really be sending a customer to his/her Places/Plus page? And when is it wise to do so?

    Sure, I can think of odd occasions. But if business owners have their customers’ attention, I’d say generally it’s a waste to send them anywhere but to the website.

  • @Phil
    Certainly a legitimate top level question: Why should you ever send anyone to your Plus page outside the context of a planned campaign, particularly reviews?

    I agree the use cases are limited. The problem is that Google seems to have convinced folks that they need a custom URL. Perhaps the post title should have been titled: You don’t need no stinking custom URL. In my “defense” I suppose I was thinking of it along the lines of the visit us on Facebook signage that folks seem to be in love with (why I have no clue).

  • Phil Rozek says:

    Yeah, I agree that Google is leading people down a rabbit hole. A business’s rebranding could make for a very crappy UX, if the website and Google Places name say one thing and the “custom” URL says another.

  • Danielle says:

    This is a great idea! Just an FYI the link to in your post takes you to a 404 page because you forgot to include the last s in “plus”.

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    Good catch. Thanks!

  • Rachel says:

    I was under the impression that giving patients/clients a direct link to a Google+ listing could trigger the review to be filtered and not display. Google likes to see someone search organically to find the listing and then review it. Does anyone know if this is still the case?

  • Rachel says:

    @Mike That is great news then! Thank you!

  • This comment isn’t about Google Plus but a question about the Redirection plugin. I set up some redirects on my server with Godaddy. Does anybody know if I add a plugin on top of that what will happen?

    I feel like a year ago I put up a redirect plugin (but with other plugins) and I had this weird loop my website got stuck in. I disabled all the new plugins I added to quickly fix it. I don’t know what caused it and didn’t know if anybody else had this problem.

    Thanks ahead of time.

  • Mike Blumenthal says:

    I do not know how GoDaddy handles redirects but it is certainly possible to have conflicts between one system and another that leads to going in circles. You should do one or the other but not both.

  • Tony Leary says:

    I’m noticing this first hand myself…

    I built up everything as Social Listings (Internet Marketing) but for numerous reasons have started re-branding as Cartography Marketing (same service, address, phone).

    However, now I’m stuck with,,; because I wanted to optimize everything…

    Thanks for the WP tip Mike! I think I’ll avoid creating service provider custom URLs for a while.

  • Mark says:

    “can’t change it ever” is not really that important IMHO. Consider the speed which these platforms are typically developed, this is the sort of thing that I expect to change.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      “Can’t change ever” may not be important to you but lack of control is important to me and should be to others. Given that there is so little value, there is so much frustration and better ways…why do it at all?

  • Christopher Thomas says:


    I’m having this trouble now, when I wanted to create a custom url, it said that I would choose a url like add some characters here ]

    so I suppose it’s thinking I should create a url similar to +ChrisThomas1978….but I don’t want that…even if I don’t care about the branding issue since it’s a personal plus account, I could worry about my antimatter studios account, but I would like to use /chrisalexthomas instead, that would be nice, but I really really really dislike this christhomas123 type names, they are so ugly.

    So great!? I’m one person of 123 others….I don’t want to be one in a group of similar people, I want people to know I’m unique and separate.

    right now, I’m not given that choice….so I’m not creating a unique url… and I find it also very very odd, because I’m a programmer I understand these issues very clearly, that I can’t change said url, I don’t see any technical reason why not, so once more, google is intruding in my personal business and telling me what I can or cannot do, when they have no right to do so, giving me an “our way or the highway” doesn’t inspire confidence in future interactions.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      Which is why I strongly suggest “owning” any custom URLs via the method noted in the article.

  • Colleen says:

    Thanks! Great suggestion – implemented it immediately. Google can be such a headache with the place pages and this has just removed them from the loop for me.

  • I’m choosing to wait it out – eventually I would hope that Google would just let you type in the name you want and if it’s available – you get it. Similar to when you sign up for a new gmail – you type in the name you and are immediately notified if that name is taken or not.

    Amazes me that Google can’t implement what should be simple, common sense practices on stuff like this.

    I have rarely seen a GOOD suggested URL for any of my clients – one of the suggested “Custom” URL’s was more characters than the jumble of #’s! I have a dentist office with 14 locations. How hard would it be to make the custom URL the comany name followed by the city name? Sometimes Google is dumb. 🙂

    They’ll come around on this.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      @Chad why wait it out when you can have a great solution no with a redirect? If and when Google gets their s$&t together you can point that redirected URL at your sight for any link juice it might have developed.

  • Annie R says:

    honestly I am so glad I’ve found this! Having the same difficulty as Christopher Thomas, most annoying. I have several business pages I have set up with google+ pages (excellent for displaying extended photo albums and sharing blog posts), all of the business pages have unique domain names – seriously why can’t my google plus page be my domain name – no-one else in the world has that domain name!!! It absolutely beggars belief!

  • Andy Kuiper says:

    I foresee a time when Google will allow for mods to the ‘Custom URL’s’ – for those of us who’ve already chosen one, but would rather have something a bit different 😉

  • Shivansh Verma says:

    You can use subdomain that would redirect one user to any other page. Like, I have some subdomain:

    And it redirects you to facebook page. So, it is better because it doesn’t need any WordPress and htaccess file. It just need a subdomain forwarding. 🙂

  • Mike Griffin says:

    I am just beginning with google plus for my business and wondering why bother. Google seems to be pretty far behind the times. I already have a business presence on several other social media options, they simply let you create your url base on your business name, exactly what I want. It makes it consistent across all media and puts your brand on all media.

    Then there is Google+ you have the option to create a “custom url” based on your business, yeah right. Im allowed to create my page like “mikestutusales” if its my company name, then when they give you the option to create your “custom” url they give you +mikestutusales and then they make you add meaningless numbers or letters after that so it is “unique to your page” they say. Wait, how is +mikestutusales1234 unique to my page called mikestutusales which is also the company name. You let me make the page so apparently its already unique, no one else is using it, why do they make me create a “custom url” that does not match my already unique page name and company name??????

    Second, why would I want to get a url from GoDaddy or another service to redirect to google+ rather than a website. Not sure I understand that. That’s why I’m not sure if I will continue with google plus, so far I can’t see what it can do for me that isn’t already being done by other services or social media.

    But then again I’m just learning about Google+ and so far not real impressed.

    • Mike Blumenthal says:

      The value of Google lies in their ability to surface your listing in search. The Google My Business Dashboard is the best way to enhance your listing.

      As of last week, with the separation of Google My Business and Google + while Google My Business does create a Plus page there is no compelling reason to use it.

      The reason that businesses wanted a link to their Google Plus page was to send their customers there to leave reviews. But that is no longer a valid choice either.

      You should send them to a search that finds your business on the front page of Google if you want them to leave reviews… A link like this:,1.

      That also though needs to be shortened and could be shortened like this: Thus is Google ever changes the way that they gather reviews you wouldn’t have to redo your marketing materials.

  • Nickesha says:

    I am so sorry I did not research this topic before taking the custom URL. Now I can’t change it. Just want to also tell your readers that apparently that the terms and conditions also says something about them reserving the right to possibly charging for it in the future or taking it away possibly for violations. Gosh!! Too many rules. Thanks for this solution but I am on blogger, don’t know how to do it there.

  • UB says:


    My issue is slightly different. I wanted a custom URL for my Co YouTube channel which was linked to the G+ Profile. I was looking for but when I tried setting the custom URL, it said [add few more characters]..without adding words, I wasn’t getting the desired URL. So I first changed my G+ profile name to Wide Angle and then tried obtaining the custom URL. This time when I was prompted to add few more characters, I added the word ‘Films’ and I got the desired URL i.e.

    Then I realised that my channel name became Wide Angle rather than Wide Angle Films. I wanted a custom URL that carried the same name as the Channel. Now when I’m trying to change the Channel name, I’m not being able to.

    In few forums, I read that if I wait for 90 days, I might be able to change the name. How true is that? Is it possible to change the Channel name once you get a custom URL for the channel? Please help.

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