Last year Facebook announced that it was opening up “vanity URLs” for members to choose easier to brand URLs. Originally the URL of any Facebook page was just a randomly assigned number like “id=595845231.” , fairly soon you will begin seeing facebook.com/firstnamelastname or facebook.com/pepsi (which is already up and running)
Facebook’s announcement has made a stir in many spaces regarding the value of branding and search engine impact.
Unfortunately, while Facebook may be the largest social network online: the ability to have vanity URLs at a site is nothing new. Twitter has always had vanity URLs, Linkedin uses your name, Myspace has been doing it forever, and 4 out of 5 other social networking sites use “vanity urls”
You may say “but Facebook is the largest network…”
Facebook may see some initial SEO ramifications from the change, but we have to ask a little deeper about the big impact and reaction that major search providers need to make. What would happen to Google if Facebook suddenly had 200 million new vanity URLs in place? I would suspect Google would place a variety of inhibitors on the Facebook.com domain to prevent massive spamming problems.
More importantly, in just the regards of Google and Facebook… they are competitors. Do you really think Google wants Facebook providing top search results for 200 million users? Does Google want to send massive amounts of traffic to a competitor? (probably not)
In the very recent past Facebook attempted to dictate terms of service to 200 million users. It caused a horrendous backlash and Facebook was literally mobbed by the masses. Tens of thousands of Facebook users revolted and created user groups and petitions complaining about the new terms.
As Facebook moves to provide “vanity urls” to help users define the Facebook site as a destination (perhaps on e-mails, business cards, and more) many users should be very wary of the question “who owns this Facebook profile?”
What happens when Facebook decides to change policy about your vanity URL in six months? (you do realize that Facebook doesn’t have a robust business model and is grabbing at ideas…. so change to ToS is expected.)
As a professional who has been operating in the search engine and online reputation niche for a decade, I would only recommend that you professional brand something that you own and control 100%.
This means a domain name, your site, your personal brand. For instance I have barryhurd.com as a test site that I routinely change with new ideas and formats.
Having one profile doesn’t cut it these days. When someone searches for you, they are going to be exposed to 10+ results on the first page search. That literally means you need AT LEAST ten sources of information about you online if you want maximum control over how interpret you online.
In regards to search engines, you may need dozens or hundreds of interaction points to make sure your results on Google are favorable.
Some examples for myself:
Some business accounts that I use for my professional name:
There are many ways of looking at how you are perceived online. Far more than can be covered in any one article. You have professional networks, real world contacts, family members, both personal and professional lives, and a mixture of information presented by you and the people interacting with you (family, friends, clients, competitors)
If you are interested in knowing how to maximize your brand and reputation online, you can add yourself to the waiting list for our private beta @ buzzprofile.com
You can also follow our conversation on http://twitter.com/buzzprofile