Facebook Vanity URLs : Good for Facebook & SEO

TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington has a post today about Facebook’s limited rollout of vanity URLs; URLs which have a brand name or keyword at the end.

For example, on Twitter my profile is twitter.com/lorenbaker and on Facebook my profile is at http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=694037044.

There is not only a loss of branding or individuality with the Facebook random number generator URL string, but it sucks for SEO purposes. Furthermore, when looking past personal profiles and into Facebook fan pages (which are now set up similarly to profiles), the end result is worse.

Brands are stuck with profiles which have the name of the brands in the URL strong, but no differentiation from the official brand page and fan pages set up by Facebook users.

Example :

Maker’s Mark Official Fan Page : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Makers-Mark/6355923333

Maker’s Mark Fan Page made by random Facebook user : http://www.facebook.com/pages/Makers-Mark-Whiskey/26391345957

There is no differentiation in the URL string what-so-ever to give the real brand page more value in search results or at first glance.

http://www.facebook.com/Makers-Mark/ would work much better. This way the search engines and users could easily idenitfy the correct fan page in the Google, Yahoo and Microsoft indexes AND the fan page would be much easier to use with print or broadcast media.

Arrington writes that some exceptions have been made for U2, Ashton Kutcher & Demi Moore (who are both social media addicts) and Digg’s Kevin Rose. Rose, Kutcher and Moore are all over Twitter, so by giving them vanity URLs on Facebook, perhaps the company is hoping to lure them over.

But wouldn’t opening up Facebook to more vanity URLs result in a rush to secure profiles and be an instant buzz generation tool, especially for people named John Smith or Tom Jones :)

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker

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23 thoughts on “Facebook Vanity URLs : Good for Facebook & SEO

  1. It would be pretty darn hard for facebook to allow any other way to do pages. I mean, there are soooo many out there and it is essentially one of the biggest networks on the internet. Sometimes dynamic urls are the only way to do things.

  2. I would go with Nathan on this. As for Facebook it could be too late for them to change every existing URL. The best work around that I could of is for them to change how each public profile is shown for public search listing. They could add more available information on that page or copy whatever linked of other social media sites is showing. When you search for “your name” a facebook profile public search listing is on the SERP.

    My 2 cents.

  3. It won’t be hard for FB to change the urls, they can easily rewrite them using codes. A lof of softwares do that these days… like wordpress

  4. Well they do have more personalized URLs for people, e.g. what I have showing in top 10 in G for my name is http://www.facebook.com/people/Irish-Wonder/1015772130 – so the URL with digits is not the only one you can get. However, how do you distinguish between real trademark owners and impostors to give them the vanity URLs? It could all turn quite messy – like with Twitter where some folks pose as some celebrity. Unless they verify each claim manually, that is, or maybe make vanity URLs a paid option.

  5. I might actually start to use my Facebook account more often if this goes through. I’ll be in a race with the other Paul R’s for my name… again.

  6. Hello?! For SURE – awesome point, Loren. Facebook are missing out on this one. They’d spike traffic like crazy by launching vanity URL’s.

    I just saw Gary Vaynerchuck has http://facebook.com/gary for his “personal” Fan Page. Sahweet! Peeps ask me how to do this all the time. I created my own java redirect: http://marismith.com/facebook. But would also like it the other way around!! 😉


  7. Loren,

    Hey there. I work with Maker’s Mark on their web and social media efforts. Nice to see the brand getting some love here (although I feel like I ought to point out that both your links above actually point to the fan-created Facebook page).

    A vanity URL would be nice, but currently the official Maker’s Mark fan page has over 12,000 fans, who actively add pictures, videos and discussions. So it’s not exactly performing badly as it is. :)

  8. We can show facebook how to do a mod rewrite with smarty templates. Its a standard coding structure that we use for Branding on the Worlds Top Brands Social Networking portal. Facebook is behind the time on this simple procedure, but maybe they dont want to make it so clear cut…

  9. Seems to me that this would be something that is easy – add a field where the user can enter a custom vanity URL, then when loading the pages a simply if statement to check to see if that field was populated, if it was, use the new URL, if not, use the old lengthy one.

    (Sure there would be a bit more to it than that, but really, overall, not THAT big of a deal to make the switch)

  10. Does the fact that one of the fan pages about was called Maker’s Mark and the other Maker’s Mark Whiskey, mean that at least the system won’t create two pages with the exact same name?

  11. yeah tiny-fb.com has been doing that for facebook users for ages. creates your own tiny-fb.com/yourname site for your facebook account. makes it easier to twit, sms, email and randomly jot down your facebook details to people.

  12. Finally: Facebook Vanity URLs

    I did manage to get my personal facebook vanity URL. I made sure to rush in and get it the first day that it was available. The next challenge was to get the vanity URL for fan pages that I have created, that wasn’t so easy. Since fan pages I have created don’t already have 1,000 fans, I have to wait until 6/28 to try to get my fan page vanity urls. Hang on to that date if you are in the same boat.