Google+

Google+ May Charge For Custom URLs in The Future

A post yesterday on Social Media Today pointed out an aspect of the new Google+ Terms of Service for its custom URLs, which it has been rolling out gradually to all pages and profiles.

The second bullet states that Google+ may start charging for URLs in the future, with notice given before the fact. Google must have some faith that users will pay for a custom username; however, if a user isn’t a marketer or is just using their Google+ profile for personal reasons, they may not be so inclined.

Other Paid Social Media Networks

The concept of charging for social networks, either as a whole or for certain components, is not a new one. The Verge reported in September 2013 that Path, a private social network focused on sharing content with your inner circle, will begin selling monthly and annual subscriptions for access to virtual stickers and additional camera filters. Subscriptions range from $1.99 for the Android app, $4.99 for a 3 month iOS subscription, and $14.99 for an annual subscription on either platform.

Another example of a paid social network that has gotten some visibility is App.net, which was launched by Dalton Caldwell in August 2012. App.net focuses on allowing users to have once account to connect to several different social applications, including HootSuite and Pocket.

app net pricing 1024x644 Google+ May Charge For Custom URLs in The Future

 

The creators of App.net are hoping that by promising users that they exclusively own their content and hosting a platform that is targeted specifically to developers, they can catch a market that is willing to pay.

LinkedIn is another example of a social network that has a freemium model (same as App.net).

From a marketers’ standpoint, the pressure to pay for social media marketing has increased recently. The changes to the newsfeed algorithm on Facebook in the past few years has made it harder for company pages to appear on users’ news feeds, unless they have paid for a promoted post. In addition, promoted tweets from Twitter have promised brands substantially more visibility than they would get organically, states Ryan Holmes, CEO of Hootsuite, on Forbes.com.

No matter where paid social networks go next, the big question is: if the other big social media networks (Google+, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) go paid with a freemium version, will users follow?

Would you pay for a custom Google+ URL?

 

Google+ TOS screenshot taken 11/11/2013.
App.net pricing screenshot taken 11/11/2013.

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Kelsey Jones

Search & Social Consultant at MoxieDot.
Managing Editor Kelsey Jones helps clients around the world grow their social media, content, and search marketing presence when she's not editing and scheduling posts for SEJ. She enjoys writing and consuming all kinds of content, both in digital and tattered paperback form.
524312 890979679367 1444089661 n+%25281%2529 Google+ May Charge For Custom URLs in The Future

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16 thoughts on “Google+ May Charge For Custom URLs in The Future

  1. Interesting post Kelsey. I wonder what “stop participating” refers to? Getting previous, non-custom URL back or losing the Google+ profile and/or page?

    Another key question in deciding whether or not to continue use of the Google+ Customer URL feature is how much which charge to keep the branded URL ? Will it be value based pricing. For different companies, the value could vary greatly.

    1. Great points Rick. I also was curious about the language in the disclaimer. If not paying meant I would lose my entire page/profile, I would most likely pay, depending on cost. Also, how would redirects work if you kept your page but didn’t want the paid URL? If it redirected to your page anyway, I would just keep using my vanity URL.

    1. Google+ is important for organic SEO because Google privilegies g+ pages. So for business, it’s hard not to be present on these social networks

      1. Great point Bastien. In a way, I feel like Google+ is holding us hostage, even though they keep claiming it doesn’t affect SEO (but especially with authorship, I disagree).

  2. I have decided not to change my G+ pages to the custom URLs because of that very verbiage. I don’t know what it will cost in the future, whenever that is, and as others have pointed out and I don’t know what systems Google has in place for re-directs, if any. Imagine having a bunch of followers and then losing them all if the cost is prohibitive and they can’t find you under a generic URL anymore. What happens to current followers? Are they re-directed?

    It’s simply not worth it without knowing the answers to very basic questions like these. Nobody will listen to me, but I would suggest that NOBODY take them up on the custom URL and that we demand answers to these sort of basic questions from Google as a community.

    It is shameful that they would bury something as important as that in Terms of Use that they know the vast majority of people don’t read. If all of the websites they judge with such a scornful eye buried the same kind of thing in their fine print, they would de-index them. Are they really that desperate for money that they have to resort to something as underhanded as this?

    I would be utterly embarrassed to work for any company that did this!

    1. Great points Scott. I didn’t catch it in the TOS until I read the Social media today article. I agree with you that Google doesn’t need the money, but as with any corporation, they are looking for ways to continue to grow. I like Google, but I’m not sure a vanity URL is worth paying for.

  3. How can Google expect to charge for this service? Facebook allows you to have custom urls and charges nothing. Google+ is not nearly as popular and now to pay for it as well? You have got to be kidding me!

  4. Well, I am not quiet fond of nice looking URL since I got a nice number plate behind my corvette lol..But that would be the worse news for the visitors if they got paid. Thanks for the info Kelsey anyways.