Branding is an important activity, for any public entity, whether private or commercial. It allows people to identify and, in a sense, communicate with your brand on a personal level. This philosophy also holds true with domain names and URLs. The better people know them, the more likely are to visit your site over competitors, and with increased regularity.
Now Google has now begun offering personalised “vanity” URLs for profiles on its G+ network. This will allow people to add their own chosen path to the end of their respective profile.
So, example the traditional: https://plus.google.com/12370813684746819118
Could be changed to a more memorable: https://plus.google.com/john-smith
Limited Roll Out
The option won’t be available to just anyone though. Google followed the announcement with another statement saying they would only be offering the certain select verified profiles and pages.
Essentially, this means that only popular brands, celebrities and popular profiles will be offered the opportunity for the near future. As they grow out from the testing phase, the option will be offered to more profiles, and will eventually trickle down to the common man.
Possible Commercial Structure?
Google argues that the measure is necessary because a first-come first-served structure may result in important celebrities and brands being frozen out of their logical URL. So fans of theirs won’t find them on the URL they think they should, or unofficial pages may begin to imitate these people and brands.
Google has also made public that they may decide to start charging for the service in future, even though it is currently free. If so, one can be almost sure that not many private profiles would be interested in making use of the service, just for vanity’s sake.
Playing Catch Up to Facebook
If the service sounds familiar, that’s because it is. Facebook began offering personalised profile URLs a few years ago already. So it seems this move is yet another in a set of developments Google+ have released just to be on par with social networking giants Facebook and Twitter. One might wonder how they plan to establish a dominant market presence while still playing catch-up.
It is a vital tool though. Anybody who wants to publicise their social networking profiles, needs to give the path name in way that is actually physically memorable. And a 21 digit number definitely doesn’t qualify. Simply telling people to search for your brand on the G+ network can lose a lot of valuable followers not willing to make the effort.