Customizable URLs have become a common staple on social media profiles. However, to the dismay and confusion of many, custom URLs have been conspicuously absent on Google+. Just how could the kingpin of search think that something like this:
is user or search-friendly?
It looks counterintuitive to Google’s mission as a search engine and awful to SEO experts. But, there is some method to Google’s madness. Custom URLs on Google+ present a potential privacy issue. Since Google+ is tied to almost all of Google’s other services, a custom URL could provide hackers and spammers with enough information to cause a problem. With the debacle that was Google Buzz, it’s no wonder the search giant is treading with caution.
In addition, domain-squatting is a potential problem that could negatively impact users, companies, and search results. Unscrupulous people could snap up several custom URLs, potentially driving traffic away from authoritative sites and/or creating conflicting search results.
In light of the issues, Google is being careful. Currently, custom URLs are available on Google+, but they come with some catches. First, custom URLs are in closed beta right now. Only profiles that receive an invite from Google can use a custom URL. Second, Google chooses the URL. But, if you have been invited and you don’t like the URL Google has selected for you, you can request a change.
Google has stated that custom URLs may become available to everyone in the future, but as a paid feature. It may be worthwhile for some companies, especially as pages and posts from Google+ continue to play a larger role in search results.