Understanding Google My Business & Local Search
Google+ Custom URLs – Facts, Tidbits and Concerns
Google rolled out a series of new photographic tools on Tuesday that they hoped would make them as cool as Apple but it seems that all folks are talking about is the new “custom” URLs at Google Plus.
Here are a number of factoids, observations & issues in relation to the latter:
- “Custom” is a misnomer. Assigned is more like it. Custom implies that you have some input into the process which is fully automated. You pretty much have to accept the URL given or keep your number.
- Any brand or business that has a linked website or is a verified local business can claim a custom URL for their Google+ page. Link and verification info is available in the Google+ Help Center: http://goo.gl/RMpxP
- Even though there appears to be an appeal option the decision is for the most part final on the new URL.
- From Google: At this time, we do not allow you to appeal your assigned Custom URL. Based on user feedback, we’ll determine any necessary updates to this process.
- Google will use a number of signals, including the name of the page/profile, and the website associated with the page to determine the given URL.
- Businesses with multiple locations are being assigned a URL like BusinessNameLocation as in plus.google.com/+PizzHutOlean
- When the domain is NOT .com Google seems to be adding the TLD to the end of the URL. Business with .net or .org will have those added to the URL.
- This applies to international domains as well. So folks in France are getting URLs with FR appended to the end. This is an aestetic problem but apparently becomes more so if you live in Cook Islands, and the websites end in “co.ck“. (Is this real?)
- John Mueller noted that the “vanity URLs also work on any Google TLD”. They thus can be shortened from plus.google.com/+MikeBlumenthal to google.com/+MikeBlumenthal and it will still work.
- Barry Schwartz noted that the Google’s TOS regarding Custom URLS indicate that Google “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”. Wow would that be a mess.
- Glenn Gabe noticed that Google is 302’ing the old # URL to the new name URL. Strange but according to John Mueller noted in the comments that “Google treats it like a redirect. [and] Yes, you can use rel=author with these. You can also use the numeric ID” and thus should have no affect on existing author links. There is a good discussion of this at Cyrus Shepard’s G+ Post.
As in all change the real question for me is who really benefits? Clearly this is a win for Google. It is ironic at one time Google only sent traffic to your website and now you will be sending traffic to Google.
Cyrus Shepard noted that the new URL structure would likely cause G+ Pages to show more visibly for branded searches at Google. I suppose that might shift some traffic away from the directories to SMBS so that would be a net benefit if the SMB maintained a decent Plus Page.
My biggest concern though is that SMBS will not think through how this should fit into an integrated on-line marketing plan and that they will send folks willy nilly to their new and shiny google.com/+MyBusiness page. If this comes at the expense of building out their own web equity and losing the ability to track, analyse and convert new and existing customers it would be a shame.
Social media has a roll to play in SMB marketing but it should supplement a sound plan not replace it.
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