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Marketing 101: Understanding Vanity URLs For Your Online Marketing & Branding Efforts

Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing

When we talk about websites, there’s a lot of terms regarding them that many may not take note of. One of these terms is none other than URL.

URL stands for ‘Uniform Resource Locator’, and just like a home address, it functions as the official address of your website.

Have you ever wondered “How can I make people remember my website address better” or “How can I make them click my links”?

The thing with these website addresses is that if your URL is too long or complicated, it won’t leave much of an impression.

That’s why vanity URLs exist.

What is a vanity URL? This is the question we will be answering in this post. Read on as we cover all related aspects pertaining to vanity links, and more in the coming sections!

What is a Vanity URL?

Very simply, a vanity URL is a shorter, more catchy web address.

It is often a shorter and more concise version of the original URL for your page. It offers many benefits in terms of branding and marketing efforts and also tracking.

Related: Differences Between Branding VS Marketing

With vanity links, you have the freedom to choose and customize your own web addresses according to your creativity and preference.

To put it in context, let’s check out some vanity URL examples as follows.

Let’s say your real web page address is

https://onesearchpro.my/wordsite/pages/landing-176533-452l33/page104-source=button-link737=about/link?utm

, but this address is really excessively long with a bunch of numbers and symbols too difficult for anyone to remember or take note of.

In order to make your branded URL shorter, you can choose to buy a vanity URL from a vanity URL generator or provider, and turn it into something like this:.

OneSearchPro.marketing

A vanity URL like this gets right to the point and tells people what the contents of the page are – making it easier to remember, use and share.

A custom URL like this can be hosted by a third-party provider, or on your own server.

Your Google shorten URL can be placed in social media posts, profiles, print ads, offline content, blog posts, and basically anywhere. It leads back to a portion of your site that has a more complex address using a mechanism known as redirection. [1]

Vanity URL VS Vanity Domain Name

A vanity URL is different from something called a vanity domain name. Previously, we looked at a vanity URL meaning.

Unlike URLs, a domain name is the main website’s address, which is just the front of the URL.

It can too, be customized and is usually named after a certain individual – usually the owner of the business website.

Vanity domains are usually adopted by solopreneurs rather than companies. These individuals use their own names as a brand, and those who use them include lawyers, motivational coaches, politicians, social media influencers, consultants, and the like.

Influencer Karen Kho's Website | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
An example of a vanity domain name is influencer Karen Kho’s website. Source: imkarenkho.com

Examples of Vanity URLs on Various Platforms

Remember how we looked at one example of a vanity URL for a website in the previous section?

Now that you know website addresses can be shortened, did you also know that you can change Facebook URL? For that matter, you can actually change the URL on all the other social media platforms too, including Instagram, LinkedIn, and even a Twitter URL link.

Claiming a vanity URL is one of the first steps you should do when starting your social media pages. As a matter of fact, a short and concise social media link will help drive traffic to your website in the long run.

You have to be quick and claim the best social media vanity URLs because other businesses or individuals would have taken the best ones similar to yours.

For example, if you’ve just arrived at Facebook and your business name is Business to Business Marketing, you may find that others have already taken that name in the form of:

B2BMarketing.com

Now you’ll have to pick another name if you want to link to your blog post, for example:

B2BMarketing.live/blog

The one thing to remember in all this is that providing any vanity link on any of the social media platforms is more or less the same, and you should practice the same guidelines in keeping it simple and to the point.

Here are more examples showcasing how vanity URLs look like on the different social media sites:

Source: The Vibes

On Facebook:

Influencer Karen Kho's Website | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Source: The Vibes

On Instagram:

Vanity URL Example on Instagram | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Source: Celcom


On Twitter:

Vanity URL Example on Instagram | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Source: Digi

Why Should You Use a Vanity URL?

When you pick a URL, you want to make things easier for the public in more ways than one. It goes without saying that this is for users to easily look up your business when they want to.

Related: Should You Search Google or Type a URL?

Vanity URLs are a type of link customization that can benefit both you and the users that will interact with your online presence. Here are some of those benefits:

More Memorable

When someone wants to search for your brand using the search bar, a vanity website address is much easier to remember than long-winded ones.

The main branding objective you want to achieve is to let people remember you better, so keeping a shorten URL will make your brand name ‘stick’ in people’s minds a lot easier.

Many businesses with a good vanity link will also insert one or two words describing what their company sells or provides. So instead of just saying Spades.com, you might want to add SpadesBurgers.com, so people know you’re a gourmet burger shop.

Shortened Link Used by Spade's Burger on Instagram | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Source: Spade’s Burger

Easier Sharing and Usage

One of the main things you want users to do that can really help with your digital marketing is that you want them to share your URL link with others.

This helps to grow your brand organically, especially among your target audience and niche market.

Users can share your links better if you provide them with a vanity URL that is short and sweet.

Imagine if they’re sharing a link that’s a wall of text on their chat apps like WhatsApp. The individuals they’re communicating to may lose interest in it completely thinking it’s some sort of spam link.

Some users might also be interested to embed your URL in their posts on social media. Having a vanity link will allow the post to look better and much nicer.

Better for Offline Marketing

Using a link shortener will also be useful if your URL is being featured in offline ads and print materials such as newspaper ads, brochures, or leaflets. This way, no one has to type in complicated symbols, numbers, or a long list of alphabets.

With offline marketing, there is no way for anyone to copy and paste your link – neither can they click it easily. Therefore, you have to provide a link that can be typed fast and efficiently. [2]

Apart from printed materials, a vanity URL is also very useful for audio and visual marketing such as TV and radio ads. They can be mentioned by someone easily and be heard by consumers who can then replicate what they hear in the browser search engine bar.

Short URLs Used Commonly in Billboards | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Short URLs are suitable for billboards that have to be read in seconds. Source: Adeevee

More Information for Analytics

When you have a URL for a vanity page, you can use various analytical tools to understand user behavior.

For example, you can shorten URL Google using Google URL Shortener and compare it with another shortened URL for the same site in order to see which one attracts more traffic.

You may be interested in: Best Google Marketing Tools

These insights into user preference will help you improve your digital marketing strategies and website designs too.

More Trust for Your Website

The more direct your URL is, the less likely your site is meant for any harm. This is the general perception of any online user.

Directly placing your brand name on your URL means that you’re honest about your identity and not aiming to be a phishing or spam site.

This leads to higher click-through rates among users as compared to a less unique web address that is too long, contains random numbers and symbols, or appears too generic.

How Do I Make a Vanity URL?

How to create a vanity URL? There are basically two main approaches on how to create a vanity URL. The first is on a CMS (Content Management System) plugin or control panel and the second is via a URL shortener.

Step 1: Designing a Vanity URL

Before you install your vanity URL, you have to first design that URL in the most optimal way possible.

There are 3 parts to a good and concise URL: the domain, TLD, and URL slug.

Take for example the address “OneSearchPro.my/blog”. Let’s break this down to see what each portion means and how you can pick the best ones.

The Three Parts of a Good Vanity URL | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Source: Rebrandly

Domain (OneSearchPro): This is your brand name or company name. It is important to tie it back to your brand as your domain will set the tone and standard for the entire website, as well as be the basis for all your social media URLs.

TLD (.my): The TLD stands for Top Level Domain and is basically the domain endings. Some of the most common TLDs you can choose include .com, .my, .live and .news, and so on. If you operate in a certain country, it helps to have a TLD that represents the country’s name in order to build trust.

URL slug(/blog) : The URL slug represents portions of your site, and it often includes keywords that will increase its chances of appearing in search engine results. You can use various keyword research tools to help you determine the most searched terms that you can incorporate into your vanity URLs.

Step 2: Publishing Your Vanity URL

This has to be done from the backend of your website’s programming. There are two main methods we can go about doing this depending on what platform your website is hosted.

CMS Plugin or Control Panel

If you build your website on a CMS like WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, or Magento, there will be plugins where you can customize the URL of each page that you’re publishing.

On CMS platforms like WordPress, you have plug-ins like Redirection, whereby you can enter a source URL and then enter a new vanity URL in the Target URL section.

Another plugin that’s useful is Custom Permalinks, which allows you to customize the URLs for posts, pages, tags, and categories on your website.

WordPress Custom Author URL | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
The WP Custom Author URL allows you to customize a vanity link when exporting posts to social networks.
Source: SEOquake

Automatic Short Link Generators

If you’ve built your website by the usual programming methods, then you can obtain services from URL shorteners.

One of these free short link generators is Bitly. The free service link URL shortener allows you to make a bit ly link that’s a shorter version of a longer link.

The paid version, on the other hand, allows you to make a custom Bitly URL for your domain, create a vanity URL branded link, and manage marketing campaigns.

Using Bitly to Customize Domains | Vanity URL | One Search Pro Digital Marketing
Customizing domains on Bitly. Source: Bitly Blog

Other examples of short link providers include TinyURL, bit.do,Lnnkin, and more. Each of these sites has their own user interfaces where you can create your vanity URL and then purchase them to be incorporated into your site.

Sometimes, they offer customized URL creation as part of a larger package that includes various other services.

How Do Vanity URLs Affect SEO?

Vanity URLs are actually an integral part of the entire Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy for your site.

That said, in order to help the overall concept, they have to be utilized in the correct manner.

Varying Vanity URLs to Avoid Competition

In SEO lingo, competition between two closely related or similar keywords is known as keyword cannibalization.

Self-cannibalization is whereby having the same keywords for different pages on your website cause them to compete with each other for a position on SERPs (Search Engine Results Page).

As your page is already competing with other websites, it helps to minimize any competition with itself. Therefore, each part of your site should have clearly distinct URLs.

Don’t Underestimate the Importance of TLDs

When choosing a TLD, make sure that it is relevant to your brand and nature of business.

If you’re functioning mainly in one country, you can consider a geo-targeted TLD. For example, One Search Pro Digital Marketing provides services mainly to the Malaysian market; therefore, it would be a wise choice to adopt the local TLD of .my.

Ensure All your URLs Are Functioning

Shorter branded links are always preferable to longer branded links because they also ensure that there are fewer broken links around.

Make sure that you’re using the correct 301 redirects when making multiple vanity URLs for the same page as this redirect is the one that is most suitable and efficient for search engine tracking. It’s also important so that your link juice isn’t spread too much or interrupted.

Basic But Best Practices When Designing a Vanity URL

It’s not enough just knowing what’s a URL that is unique. When considering what does a URL look like, there are some things you can do to make your vanity URL really stand out.

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when you’re picking that custom URL.

  • Make It Short and Catchy – Your vanity URL should not be too long as some platforms may reject it. Instead, focus on making it creative and catchy. For example, you may use puns or an alternative spelling of the word.
  • Avoid Special Symbols – While having hyphens and the occasional underscore is acceptable, you should try your best to avoid too many other symbols that make your vanity URL hard to read. These include question marks, long series of numbers, dollar signs, and the like.
  • Capitalize Each Word – Capitalization makes words easier to read at a glance, and you can use all caps if you want to highlight certain words.
  • Know When Not to Use Vanity URLs – There are certain cases when vanity URLs aren’t needed. This includes cases when you already have a branded link that’s short and understandable enough. Also, you should know that some mailing services will send your email to spam if they detect a redirect URL in its content.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What Are Vanity Redirects?

Vanity redirects are shorter and more memorable versions of an original website URL. Both send visitors to the same page.

2. What Makes A Good Vanity URL?

A good vanity URL should be clear and concise with no special characters or long numbers.

3. How Long Should A Vanity URL Be?

There’s no hard and fast rule, but keeping it as short as possible is definitely the end goal. Ideally, stick to a two to three-word phrase.

4. Can You Redirect A Vanity URL?

Yes, you can definitely do that either manually or using plug-ins provided for your CMS platform.

5. When Not To Use A Vanity URL?

A vanity URL should not be used with difficult abbreviations, added dashes, or strange abbreviations. You should also avoid adding the words ‘www’ or ‘dotcom’ to the vanity link’s name.

Wrapping Up on Vanity Links

Vanity URLs are short and concise links that are more attractive to click on. Learning how to use them to draw the attention of users is a key part of your online marketing efforts.

Additionally, vanity URLs can function as the gateway to any site you want to increase traffic to, plus they’re fairly easy and cost-effective to use. In some cases, you can even create your own vanity URL for free.

If you would like to learn more about how a custom URL can be incorporated into your online marketing strategy as well as in your communications, do not hesitate to contact us – we will gladly answer all your queries!

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