When is a Custom URL not a custom URL? When it’s offered by Google+

Custom URLs – I do not think they mean what you think they mean

Been offered a ‘Custom URL’ for your business that requires a few extra characters even though no-one else has that particular URL on Google+?
Wondering why your Custom URL has AU or UK in it?
Or perhaps you’re wondering when you’ll be offered a Custom URL for your Brand or Local page?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone. The Custom URL feature in Google+ is probably one of the most confusing features for anyone that sets up a Google+ Local or Google+ Brand page.

First off, let me just say that I strongly believe the term ‘Custom URL’ is far too misleading. It makes us think that we can produce our own URL (like in Twitter or LinkedIn), one that matches our company or brand.

But that’s not the case at all.

How does Google+ create these Custom URLs?

The Custom URL is algorithmically generated by Google+ and ultimately you only have two choices:

Accept or Don’t Accept.

And once you’ve accepted it there’s not a great deal you can do about it – you’re basically stuck with it even if you move locations or rebrand to a different business name.

Most of the Custom URL is made up of the name of the Google+ page and possibly the country abbreviation of your website (if you’re using a website that ends in other than .com).

So, for example the Custom URL on offer for this Google+ page has AU at the end because the linked website is www.julianascafe.com.au

Google Plus custom URL with AU

AU website image

Why though Google sometimes insists on a user adding additional characters to the end of a Custom URL to make it unique is an unknown factor – it is part of the algorithm that Google keeps secret to prevent (I guess) spammers from gaming the system.

I meet the criteria, why don’t I have a Custom URL offer?

This is another very common question. Google’s guidelines are (deliberately) vague:

“To get a custom URL, your account needs to be in good standing and meet a few other requirements.
For local Google+ pages: Must be a verified local business
For all other Google+ Pages: Must be linked to a website”

The bit about ‘good standing’ can be interpreted in many different ways and if Google doesn’t feel your business page is meeting that requirement then you’re unlikely to get offered a Custom URL.

What now?

I highly recommend setting up your own Custom URL using the technique outlined in this Local U article (http://localu.org/blog/alternative-google-plus-custom-urls/) rather than trying to jump through the hoops that Google+ requires.

Even though I have a Google+ assigned Custom URL that I’m happy with, I’ve still done this so that I can give clients a branded URL (www.priyachandra.com/local), rather than promoting Google – remember digital sharecropping is not good!

And remember, if you need any help at all getting your small business into local search results then get in touch! I don’t bite, I promise.

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