Joe Meloni

Google’s Saurabh Sharma wrote on his own Google+ profile recently that users and marketers using Google+ Pages can customize the URLs for their accounts. Businesses can now put their company name within their URLs, while users can use their own names. The move represents a critical step in the progression of Google+, as it looks to become more relevant in social media marketing.

According to Sharma, the custom URLs have already been rolled out to select partners and verified user profiles. The tool will soon be available for more users, but Sharma did not provide any details for a full rollout. Among the companies and verified profiles that received the URLs initially were Toyota, Hugo Boss, David Beckham and Britney Spears. With the rise of parody accounts on Facebook, Twitter and other social networks, verification and custom URLs can help users ensure the Pages or popular profiles they follow are real.

Initial thoughts from both marketers and active Google+ users were mostly positive, viewing the move as a good step for the social network. Meanwhile, others questioned the verification process and its seemingly limited availability to celebrities. One commenter pointed out that his organization followed the guidelines of gaining verification by organically building a follower base on Google+ and going through the application process. However, Google+ awarded verification to some brands for the custom URL rollout based solely on their follower count. Most were internationally known brands, but some are frustrated with the focus on follower totals given the frequency of companies gaining scores of low-quality followers on different social networks.

Compared to other social networks, Google+ was a bit behind the curve with its release of custom URLs. Facebook rolled out its version more than three years ago, while Twitter’s situation was largely different, in that a page’s URL has always been based on the name of the account.

While most wait for the full rollout, or at least the availability of a custom URL for their account or brand page, the initial launch continues a busy summer for Google across all of its products and services. Most recently, Brafton highlighted a partnership between Google and the National Football League that allows fantasy football leagues to use Google+ Hangouts throughout the season so league members can communicate more effectively.