Getting personal with a custom Google+ address

Google+Ever since Google introduced Google+ in 2011, a big frustration for many users of the embryonic social network was letting people know where to find them.

That means a web address or URL: something you can let people know about so that it’s easy for them to find you on Google+.

Except that it wasn’t easy when your Google+ address was something like https://plus.google.com/116986422495636163350.

That happens to be my Google+ address. Hardly memorable, is it?

Now, though, it really is easy. Yesterday, Google announced the beginning of a roll-out of friendly web addresses – what some are calling ‘vanity URLs’ – to everyone in Google+.

So instead of https://plus.google.com/116986422495636163350, you’ll get something like http://google.com/+NevilleHobson.

Google+

Much better!

Look out for an email from Google to let you know that a custom URL (as Google describes it) is available to you:

You’re now eligible for a unique Google+ custom URL that lets you easily point folks to your profile (no more long URLs!).

Or go straight to your Google+ profile: if you see a banner at the top saying “Your page is preapproved for the custom URL…”, you can claim it.

It’s worth checking Google’s terms of use for custom URLs. We tend not to read small print online these days, but these t&c include an interesting paragraph:

Custom URLs 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.

Worth noting for the future especially if you plan to devote time and resourcing into developing a major presence on Google+ where the custom URL becomes a significant element in that presence.

What if you haven’t yet received a note from Google or you simply don’t want to go down Google’s route with a custom address?

You do have some other options.

You could use a free redirection service such as gplus.to which began soon after Google+ did, and proved to be very popular.

Or, follow the steps suggested by Nick Erwin involving setting up a sub-domain of your own that redirects to your G+ address. I did that and have had http://plus.nevillehobson.com which still does the job.

Whatever route you choose, you can now have a far more personal presence on Google+.

Additional reading: In an announcement on Tuesday about additional features in Google+ Hangouts and Photos, Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior Vice President and the man in charge of Google+, had this to say about the growth of Google+:

…With 540 million people active across Google each month, 300 million people active in just the stream and more than 1.5 billion photos uploaded every week, the Google+ community is growing faster than we ever could have imagined.

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