Are you on Google+? A year and a half ago, when Google+ was launched, you probably heard this question several times a day. The youngest sibling in the social media family has since then accumulated over 200 million active users, and is doing its best to remain relevant and innovative in this harsh and competitive arena.
One thing that’s still sorely missing from Google+ are vanity URLs. Vanity URLs are personalized URLs that usually include a username, company name or group name in the URL itself. Social media giants like Facebook and Twitter already support vanity URLs, so you can, for example, find MakeUseOf on Facebook at www.facebook.com/makeuseof or on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MakeUseOf. Similarly, you can probably find your own accounts by going to facebook.com/yourusername or twitter.com/yourusername.
If you try to do the same with Google+, it won’t work. For example, my own Google+ profile sits comfortably at plus.google.com/118417568775189468164/, and if I want to share it or print it on a business card, this is what I have to use. Memorable, right? But wait, you say, how come MakeUseOf’s Google+ page is plus.google.com/+makeuseof/? Good question. Google did introduce vanity URLs to Google+ about 6 months ago, but these are reserved for businesses and users with a large number of followers. If you’re a regular user, you have to settle for an undecipherable code.
If you want to be able to easily share your Google+ profile, you need a short, catchy, and memorable URL. While you won’t be able to get one at plus.google.com as of now, you can get it on one of the many different services that offer Google+ vanity URLs on their own domains. There’s a huge number of these services on the Web, and it’s hard to know which one to choose, so to make your life easier, I found some of the best services out there and checked them all out. The results are in front of you.
gplus.to is very simple to use, and even includes a screenshot that illustrates exactly how to get your Google+ ID code. All you have to do is choose a username 3 to 25 characters long with letters and numbers, and paste in your ID. Having a gplus.to URL for your Google+ profile should be pretty self-explanatory to most people, so it’s a nice URL to choose. The service also offers a URL for a Google+ RSS feed you can share with rss.gplus.to/username, and statistics. Unfortunately, the statistic part completely failed to work when I tried it.
Overall rating: A-
gPlusNick sports a pretty nice interface, spiced up with the joyful remark “Aren’t you excited??? Get yours!!!” at the top. Here too, you need to paste in your Google+ ID and pick a username, and if you click on “what’s this?” you’ll see a nice illustrations of what you have to paste. The only limitation specified for the username is a maximum of 25 characters, but if you enter a 2-character one you’ll get an instant warning that you need at least 3. One thing to take into account is the list of new members on the left side of the page. As soon as you create your URL, your name will appear there, linking to a page that looks like this.
The low-quality image is a problem all by itself, but even without it, this is not something you necessarily want appearing on a random website in such a prominent place. Also, while gplusnick is a pretty clear URL, it doesn’t feel very professional, if that’s what you’re aiming for.
Overall rating: B-
plus.ly has an awesome interface that makes it perfectly clear what you need to provide. Clicking the question mark on each field provides more information regarding what you can or can’t use, and how you can get your Google+ ID (if the interface doesn’t make it clear enough). You can have a username 4 to 5 characters long, and use letters, numbers, and some special characters. While the plus.ly URL doesn’t automatically say Google+, it does feel professional. plus.ly is a great example of what happens when a developer puts a little bit of thought into a website, taking the extra time to do it just right.
Overall rating: A+
The interface on this one of not the best I’ve ever seen, but it’s perfectly clear nonetheless (unless your mind gets boggled by too much green). A screenshot at the bottom shows you exactly where to get your Google+ ID, and the username limitations are clearly stated. The resulting URL is pretty cool, saving you the need to explain what it is. OnGPlus, get it?
Overall rating: A-
While the interface on this one looks a little 10 years ago, it’s clear how to get your Google+ ID what your username limitations are. I especially liked the real-time popups telling you if a username and ID are valid and available. The gotoplus.me URL is a little too long to be perfect, but it’s obvious where it’s going to lead. In fact, I feel it invites users to click – go to plus me! The service is also available in five different languages, with a sixth one, French, available on the list but crossed out. If you click it, you’ll get this message:
So if you like some politics mixes into your tech, you’ve got it.
Overall rating: A-
Overall rating: A
topl.us makes it very clear where you should get your Google+ ID, but says nothing about username limitations. When I tried entering a two-character username all I got was an error saying “Oops, enter valid username”, without telling me what’s invalid about it. It doesn’t even let you type in unsupported characters, which is good. The resulting URL is clear enough on paper, but when I actually look at it, it reminds me somewhat of a seedy adult-only website. That might be just me, though.
Overall rating: B
glpl.us caught my eye because the URL is just brilliant. What could be clearer than glpl.us? The interface takes you through the process of finding your Google+ ID, but doesn’t mention any username limitations. If you enter an invalid one, though, the error makes it clear what you’ve done wrong. The service is created by a Dutch company called 365concepts, but an attempt to visit the company’s website leads to an expired domain – not a very good sign. Nevertheless, the cool URL covers for this, and hopefully the service is as stable as it feels. If you’re printing a huge batch of business cards, though, you might want to go with something else.
Overall rating: B+
There are tons of services that didn’t even make this list, due to a less appealing interface, a poor choice of URL, or some other problem. Included or not, there’s one thing that’s common to all these services – they all give you a nice, more or less memorable Google+ vanity URL. So whether you choose one from this list or find a different one on the Web (share it in the comments if it’s really good!), you’ll be on your way to creating a better Google+ presence for yourself.
Remember, a URL is important, but it’s not enough by itself. If you’re trying to improve your Google+ presence, check out these 10 Tips For Improving Your Google+ Status. If you need even more, we have a complete Google+ manual you can download for free.