Vanity URL: What It Is, How To Get One, & Why Your Life Is Worse Without Them


Vanity has nothing to do with vanity urls

Vanity URLs have been long misunderstood, for good reason.

When we got our Google+ vanity URL before Wordstream Technologies, Wordstream Publishing, and Wordstream the game, it was a moment of celebration. We were about to get an unfair advantage over our competitors with our newly acquired gplus vanity URL. 

Vanity url triggers Knowledge Graph

Try searching any brand with a vanity Google URL and you will find that the Google knowledge graph will showcase you over other brands. i.e. Delta Airlines

What is a Vanity URL?

Vanity URL Definition: A vanity URL is an unique web address that is branded for marketing purposes.

Vanity URLs are a type of custom URL that exists to help users remember and find a specific page of your website. Therefore your vanity URLs should be easy to remember, use, and share.

There are many benefits to being the first to claim your vanity URL – and just as many setbacks if someone else beats you to it. Many social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and most recently, Google Plus offer users and brands the option to customize their gplus profile URLs.

Pro tip: Vanity URLs should not be confused with vanity domains, which are domains named after the owner’s name. e.g.

vanity domains are not the same as vanity urls
My friend David was beaten to the vanity domain – which may seem disadvantageous at first, but I think his pentasyllabic name sounds more catchy and memorable.

7 Reasons Why Vanity URLs Are Awesome, Plus Actionable Examples

To get your brains rolling as to how you can take online marking offline and into the real world, I’ve highlighted 7 reasons and some creative ways to use vanity URLs. We’ll be using our newly acquired Google plus vanity URL to showcase these vanity url examples.

google plus vanity url comparison

1. Easier to Remember

Have you ever recommended a website to someone but they were too lazy to Google it? Worse yet, have you ever found something cool on the web but can’t get the right keyword combination to have it show up on search engines? With an easy-to-remember web address, potential website visitors are less likely to give up before they even reach your website. Plus (hah, get it?), it also looks a lot more pleasing to the eye. This is the reason why URL shortening services like and tinyurl are so popular.

2. Builds More Trust

What’s more pleasing to the eye also builds more trust. This is common sense not commonly applied here. Which of these two would I have second thoughts about clicking on?

Here’s how I see it: there’s irrefutable harmony in our new vanity URL – the call to action matches up with a beautifully honest URL. Without a vanity URL for Google plus, you would create a nasty case of cognitive dissonance to the user. Can I really trust a garbled mess of numbers to lead me to where you say it will? Hyperbole aside, establishing trust on the internet is hard stuff.

3. Easier to Share

By being obviously shorter, easier to remember, and more trustworthy, our GPlus vanity URL is also engineered to be more sharable than before. Because it’s made up of words instead of random numbers, we can now share it verbally without reading out the numbers – heck, who would ever read out our old Google Plus URL? In most cases, people would resort to search to find it.

Pro-tip: Want to keep things shorter and simpler without losing trust? Here are the shortest links you can possibly create on the “big 4” of social media in order of brevity.

Google Plus:

4. Easier to Use

Now that it’s easy to remember, share, and evokes trust, we’ll actually want to include our Google plus URL when we’re offering options for our fans to follow us.
Custom Url vs Plain URL

This is a rendition of what your thank you slides may’ve looked like.

If you’ve seen our webinar thank you pages, you might notice that we’ve never included a method to follow us on Google Plus – simply because it was hard to use. Font sizes or formats have to be changed to accommodate a URL which doesn’t clearly represent what it does. If it’s hard to use internally, it’ll be hard to push out externally to customers. Now that it’s easier to use, we’ll make it available to our growing Google Plus fan base.

5. Empowers Online Sharing

Isn’t it amazing? Just a small cosmetic change can have a huge impact on your marketing efforts. If you have a strong Google Plus brand presence and active community – or you plan to have one – then it’s smart to build a supporting infrastructure around it. Here are some examples of what you can now do that was previously unfeasible because of one dinky, ugly-looking URL.

Corporate Emails

Using custom urls in emails

Press Releases

Customized urls for press releases

Online Presentation Slides

Custom urls to encourage participation

6. Enables Offline Sharing

We all know that there are tons of ways people find our website online – and you certainly don’t have to be online to hear about a website. There are plenty of places where you can place your vanity URL on your offline promotional materials to encourage more social activity online. While it’s true that companies are now spending less and less on traditional media ads, you’ll never know for sure if there’s an opportunity lost without testing your ideas out to see how effective they are!

Don’t be surprised if these traditional Google advertisements also include a “Learn more on our Google+ Page” in the future since all of Google’s efforts have to be tied to social!

Direct Mail

Using custom urls for direct mail
Get a $100 free Google AdWords coupon when you add us on!

Magazine Ads

Using custom urls in magazine ads
Learn why at

Newspaper Ads

Using custom urls in newspaper ads

Hangout with a Google Ads expert at


Using custom urls for brochures

Learn the newest updates at


Using custom urls for flyers

Get your FREE advertising dollars via

Marketing Promotional Materials (AKA SWAG)

So an SEO copywriter starts to write about some marketing swag he got in a job fair he recently visited…

Pens, pencils, magnets, stress balls, beer opener, beer cap openers, beer bottle openers, yo-yos, yoyo, T-Shirts, Polo Shirts, sweater, mugs, coffee cup, water bottle, environmentally friendly water bottle, reusable bags, environmentally friendly bags, gym bags, USB’s, key chains, keychains, tattoos, temporary tattoos, stickers….(Here’s the SEO joke reference if you don’t get the humor – and dear God I hope WordStream doesn’t start ranking for tattoos.)

Using custom urls on promotional materials

Anywhere your brand or website could show up, you could create a call-to-action to get people involved in your social media efforts. Get creative!

Remember, only some of these advertising methods will work for your business – but if you can get your most loyal customers talking, interacting, and sharing your presence online, you’re on the way to building a great customer relationship!

7. Enables Verbal Sharing

Imagine the following scenario: you’re on national television and the host gives you the opportunity to sell your business. Aside from your website, wouldn’t it be sweet if you could capture and engage them through social media?

TV News

Vanity urls enables TV sharing

“You can learn more about WordStream on our website, find us on facebook dot com slash wordstream, or google dot com slash, plus sign, WordStream” – and if you’re lucky, you’ll have a little display pop-up show on TV. Let’s not leave it to lady luck.


There’s no trick here. You would never be able to say www dot plus dot google dot com slash b slash one one zero nine six two zero three seven eight nine six zero four one seven two three six seven four *deep breath* and expect your listeners to remember or write down the address AND visit your website.

There’s just no way without an awesome vanity URL.

Word of Mouth

When you’re a brand, you want methods to access your web properties or communities to be as frictionless as possible. The easier it is the more likely people will act on it. Vanity URLs are the start of easier word of mouth sharing, since your customers may choose to visit your brand not through your website, but your presence in social media. 

8. Bonus Round: Dominate Your Branded SERP With Vanity URL SEO

It’s no secret that when users are looking for a brand, Google loves to put Google Plus, LinkedIn, and Facebook on the search engine results page. Some SEO’s will even argue that this is in part due to the exact keyword match that you’ve customized in the URL. By having the vanity URL to your brand on multiple web properties, you should be able to dominate your SERP with your own marketing message (and not what Wikipedia has to say about you!).

Pro-tip: If you have a verified Google Plus brand page, the Google Knowledge Graph will give it preference over Google Maps (if you’re a business) or Wikipedia (if you’re a person).

Great Scott, vanity URLs are certainly marketing enablers! Just how did WordStream get one for Google Plus? I’m glad you asked.

How To Get Your Google Plus Vanity URL

In order to be considered for Google’s initial custom URL rollout, you first have to have a verified, active Google+ page with user activity. I believe WordStream is currently the unofficial Guinness Book of World Records holder for obtaining a Google Plus branded URL with just 1054 plus ones – all challengers to his claim are welcome. There are, however, rumors that the minimal requirement is 100 followers, not plus ones.

Then, by the chance of counting your calendar days or nicely asking your Google AdWords account rep if they know a Googler on the vanity URL project that could prioritize your brand, you’ll see this magical grey bar. Legends say that only the chosen few have the luck to access customized URLs on the fabled Gplus network.
Google Plus custom url claim process

Oooh, a delightfully bright blue button! When you click on it, wild glittery unicorns will appear and flash across your screen with amnesia dust.

UPDATE: As of 10/29/2013, Google+ Vanity URLS are now available to all brand pages as long as they meet these minimal requirements.

Claim your Google Custom URL

Pro-tip: Note here that capitalization does not matter. If a visitor types in (God have mercy on your soul if your visitors type in l337 Sp34K) they’ll still reach our branded page.

We also noted two wacky points about Google+ custom URL’s terms of service that were a bit fishy:
1. We reserve the right to reclaim custom URLs or remove them for any reason, and without notice.
2. 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. (Emphasis mine)

These are extremely minor setbacks considering the benefits you’ll be getting, so check that click-wrap agreement and click “Claim URL” unless you would like to Request a different one. If you request a different URL, you’ll have to wait for a verification e-mail from Google; otherwise you’ll be directed to do a final confirmation. Remember, Google only allows one custom URL per page.

Confirm Google custom url

With the foresight that this experience could be a blog post, I took the risk for our readers and clicked cancel. The grey bar will still show up on the top of your Google+ page, so rest assured you’re not suckered for not taking Google’s sweet, sweet offer right away.

After confirming your choice, you’ll be directed to

Congratulations claiming Google+ URL

Pro-tip: For the techy power web users who have a knack for breaking down the components of a URL because you’re an extremely savvy online marketer, you’ll also notice that… takes you to the photo album, takes you to videos takes you to the brand’s Google Plus page wall.

Those who didn’t notice… well… now you can pretend that you knew this all along!

WordStream’s Obligatory Google Custom URL Celebration

Hopefully by now we’ve convinced you how awesome it is to have your own vanity URL.

On August 13th, Google announced that shorter, customized, and easier to remember Google Plus URLs were going to be rolled out to verified profiles (people) and pages (brands and businesses) on a limited scale for those deemed most important. The first adopters were superstars like David Beckham, Hugh Jackman, and Britney Spears and brands like Hugo Boss, Toyota, and Delta Airlines.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to pat ourselves on our back and remind our “frienemies” (in the same manner iPhone 5 owners do) that we got our vanity URLs earlier than they did*. This also means that they’re in threat of being unable to execute any of the benefits of vanity URLs I’ve just mentioned.

*fan counts are approximations*

Surprising Search Marketing Brand Pages Without Vanity URLs

Search Engine Watch – 3,900 Google plus fans
Search Engine Journal – 2,500 Google plus fans
State of Search – 2,000 Google plus fans
(It’s no wonder that Search Engine Land, which got their vanity URL, continues to take the lead with 39,603 Google plus fans)

SEO Brands With A Significant Google Plus Following Without Vanity URLs

HubSpot – 13,000 Google plus fans
SEO Book – 7,000 Google plus fans
Distilled – 3,700 Google plus fans
Point Blank SEO – 3,200 Google plus fans
Majestic SEO – 2,800 Google plus fans
(I haven’t seen any PPC Brands really leverage Google Plus – WordStream is one of the first to do so!)

SEO’s I Wish Had Their Vanity URLs (Click here to apply)

Rand Fishkin – The CEO of SEOMoz
Matt McGee – Editor of Search Engine Land
Dana Lookadoo – (Do check out her super awesome presentation on Structured Social Sharing)

Widely Followed PPC Experts on Google Plus Who We Think Will Get their Vanity URLs Soon

Joanna Lord
Brad Geddes
John Rampton

Want your name off of WordStream’s list? Shoot me an email or tweet once you’ve received your vanity URL and you’ll receive a mystery prize from WordStream.

Claiming your vanity URL is just as important as choosing the name for a brand. So what are you waiting for? 

This blog post was from Victor Pan, WordStream's resident Search Samurai.

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David Meerman Scott
Oct 12, 2012

Victor - Wow. Excellent post. Thanks for using me as an example. I use David Meerman Scott (with my middle name) professionally for SEO and other identity purposes related to the URL aspect you mention. There are many "David Scott"'s out there including one of us who walked on the moon, another who is a member of congress and still another who is an Irnonman champion. I am the only "David Meerman Scott". So I never tried for However, I do wish I had gotten because it is shorter and would be the same as my Twiter ID. Note that some (but not all) of my social vanity URLs are dmscott such as\dmscott 

Victor Pan
Oct 12, 2012

When it comes to personal branding, I am truly impressed by what you've done across multiple social media channels.When it comes to vanity urls and domains, the first one who "gets it" wins.

Oct 12, 2012

Surprised by not seeing the popular SEO professionals haven't vanity url for their profile yet even when they have large no. of followers on their G+ profile. So, Is that compulsory to file to form for claiming this?

Victor Pan
Oct 12, 2012

You need to be a verified brand/individual before you can claim your vanity url.If you haven't noticed yet, Google + isn't a big fan of anonymity. 

A Chris Turner
Oct 16, 2012

Thank you for an extremely useful post about the vanity URLs in Google+. Have they (Google) offered any insight into what they consider meaningful number of followers per their request page? e.g. "Your Google+ page must already have a meaningful number of followers."

Victor Pan
Oct 16, 2012

There are rumors that the minimum requirement for "meaniful number of followers" is 100. We had around 800 followers at the time we got our Google vanity url, so we're looking forward to hear from anyone who manages to beat that!

marina anacol
Oct 03, 2015

I really like reading through an article that can make people think.
Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

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Feb 16, 2018

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acura north orlando
Oct 06, 2015

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Jill Tooley
Oct 17, 2012

It's silly not to have a Google Plus vanity URL because of the default format; I've never seen so many random number strings in a URL before. It's pretty much impossible to use word of mouth marketing for G+ if you don't have a custom URL, because people wouldn't be able to recall so many digits and random characters.Thanks for the tips, and another thanks for keeping this post interesting. I appreciate the glittery unicorn reference and the occasional sarcastic remark!

Victor Pan
Nov 02, 2012

Thanks for the kind words Jill! I have the tendency to leave behind Easter eggs behind everything I write, glad someone found this one!

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Oct 21, 2015

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Dec 29, 2012

Thank you your informative and useful post about the vanity URLs in Google+. When I mentioned this article to my SEO company he had no idea what I was talking about.  I am over 60 so trying to get a handle of the opportunities out there is frustrated. I am trying to absorrb as much as possible. I sent him to your blog and he says, very interesting. 

Jan 07, 2013

Hi Rudee,I'm sure he'll notice how easy it is to register all relevant vanity urls to your brand name. The social networks that offer vanity urls you should focus on include G+, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and SlideShare - as of now, they'll give you the most return for the time you put setting them up. It won't be long until your brand crowds out other search results so 99.99% of your branded search results go to you. In general, you want to have a social presence in the areas that your customers/potential customers are so that you can reach them and they can reach you.I wouldn't blame your SEO company about this since Google hasn't been 100% effective in communicating their vanity url roll-out requirements. As I said, the ones who are in the know have an unfair advantage against those who don't.Cheers,Victor

Ali Xaidi
Jan 02, 2013

Thanks Victor for this brilliant piece. Especially for keeping it interesting. I wanted to ask if the URL shortener does any help?I mean there is a service that allows one to get a shortened URL. But the question that pops up in my mind is that Google may hit a business page for using a third party software on G+ for it. Does it make any impact on it? Problem is that I'm not sure whether I will ever be able to get a Google approved shortened URL for it. So will such a trick help or not if we try a vanityurl from a third party?Will be glad if you reply.Regards,Ali

Jan 07, 2013

Hi Ali, URL shorteners help with word of mouth and trust - if you customize them, they're easier to remember and share. It's a good temporary idea, not a permanent one - since shorteners usually aren't permanent. I'd be careful with redirects though - some websites and services do some shady things.Specifically to your question, services like are a nice alternative if you can't get Google to help you with a vanity url. That said, it's an alternative, not the preferred solution. You want that knowledge graph to pop out and that Google+ page to rank on the first page (and make sure they're redirecting to your pages without doing shady things).I've never heard of Google Search penalizing a business page for using thrid party software on G+. Google Search, however,  will penalize any website reported/suspected to host malicious viruses and malware. Without digging deeper, I can't tell you how reputable is.As an aside... I can tell you that I've worked with a "social bookmarking tool" in the past that automated bookmarking all WordStream content in the past. The url shorteners used in the bookmarking tool were redirecting to their home domain first (since it was a custom url shortener they had made) and then redirecting out to the pages we were bookmarking. I stopped for two reasons - if that company dies, all of my bookmarks become broken links - and I didn't trust what they were doing with the redirects. Hope this anecdote helps you make a more informed decision :)Cheers,Victor

Feb 19, 2013

What an interesting article. I plan to forward this blog to my web designer. When I decided on a name for our company I should have thought about the length of it. I have been in business such 1991 so I can't change the name now, but shorter is better all the way around. So if I can take the long name of my website and make the vanity url's shorter, I am in.

Pat Nichol
Jan 19, 2015

Very interesting....this SEO stuff drives me crazy! But I liked the bit about Vanity URLs - good stuff!


May 20, 2015

Thanks for the info, so vanity url is similar to landing page url????

Aug 09, 2017

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choose your access method
Dec 21, 2017

bookmarked!!, I like your website!

muhammad ayub
Oct 12, 2015

I think vanity url should be thought before starting a business with a long name. These days people have shorter domain names and it works.

Jan 01, 2016

There are a lot of other YouTube marketing tips that are worth attempting, however, if folks are serious
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Sep 16, 2016

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Ian Matthews
Jun 09, 2017

Great article but you can use vanity URLs for way more than just your Google+ account nowadays. You can actually create vanity URLs for every link that you share with a tool called Rebrandly.

That way even when you share links that lead away from your website your brand name will still be visible in the link. Even better you can use your own custom domain to create links like: BrandName.Link/Keyword. Check out an article from Rebrandly all about vanity URLs and the simplest way to get your own.

Jul 13, 2017

after reading this i feel i am become a SEO Expert.

Kristina Mendoza
Jul 21, 2017

I've never thought about vanity URLs seriously until now. Thanks for sharing this informative post! Cheers!

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