An Alternative to Google Plus ‘Custom’ URLs
Mike Blumenthal

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 localu.org/plus that would automatically send users to https://plus.google.com/112455008110221879139. 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 yourdomain.com/plus or yourdomain.com/google 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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