How To Get Your Own Google+ Vanity URL
On June 28th 2011, the world waited with bated breath, when Google released its new social networking service officially named as Google + (and read as Google Plus). Well, it is no surprise that Google Plus has been so far considered a hit among web users and a perfect rival to Facebook.
However many users were in for disappointment when they learned that Google launched Google Plus only for field testing and with an ‘invite-only’ clause.
The very next day, sensing the high market expectations the launch generated and the subsequent disappointment from public for not been able to use it, Google allowed invitees to invite their group of friends (above 18 years of age only) to use Google Plus service. Within hours, however Google was again forced to suspend the ‘invite your friends’ offer because of excessive demands.
What’s So Special About Google Plus?
Google Plus has many features, but what made it special even before the launch was the way it was introduced by the media – that it will be a service that will compete with Facebook (which has more than 750 million accounts).
Google Plus which works both from desktop as well as from mobile phones, beautifully integrates Google Profiles, Google Buzz features with new functionalities like Circles, Sparks, Hangouts etc. Circles in Google+ will allow a user to have sets of different people with whom the user can share different things. For example a user will have one circle for friends, one circle for family, one circle for colleagues etc.
The Sparks feature makes it possible for Google+ to get you specific information which you would like to read, but cannot search because of lack of time. Other features include – hangouts to let others know your current location, instant photo upload, huddle aka group chat etc.
In many ways Google Plus looks like Facebook, with few features taken from Twitter and LinkedIn too. Google Plus currently has more than 10 million users and with the rate members are registering for this service, there are high chances that the number may cross 20 million by this weekend. For more details and to create your new Google Plus account, visit http://plus.google.com (in case you are not able to create a new account, do not worry as chances are that Google+ is still in its testing phase and may not be approving new users yet).
But Then There Is An Issue To Tackle
The buzz around Google Plus was perfect and the launch (and the subsequent acceptance) was also encouraging, but the test marketing phase brought out one major issue that users couldn’t digest well – the absence of Vanity URLs. When a user enters Google Plus, creates a profile on it and shares it with friends, he/she has to give out a long URL containing a string of numbers (which represent the user’s profile).
Try whatever you may; it gets real annoying and confusing to remember the URL this way as the numbers do not make any sense and you hardly can send messages to your friends asking them to search for your newly created or updated Google Plus Profile by sitting and typing numbers, instead of your name or username.
Google as such has not given any official reason for not supporting vanity URLs for user profiles, instead there is a general explanation doing the rounds on the web that, the reason why Google does not support Vanity URL is to safeguard the user’s e-mail id from spammers (Google plus uses existing Google Account username and password, which might be the one you use for your Gmail as well). For a perfect product with a near perfect launch, the absence of any type of support for vanity URLs does look disheartening, especially when self proclaimed rivals like Facebook and Twitter have full support for vanity URL’s for their user profiles.
For example in Facebook you have the option to get a vanity URL and can decide what your URL should be (facebook.com/username). Facebook which also faced the number string problem initially for its user profiles however was quick enough to introduce the vanity url feature for its existing (and established) users in 2009. And there was indeed a mad rush for blocking user names when the vanity url feature was introduced in Facebook. Twitter also allows its users to choose their own url to make their profile unique and personal. So it comes as a real surprise why Google missed on this important feature for its Google + beta.
However There Is A Solution
It is true every problem has its own solution, but the solution to the above problem (absence of vanity url) did not come from Google, but from a new service (which is not related to Google) known as Google Plus Nick or gplus. Gplus is a new application on the web that allows all Google Plus users to sign in and shorten their existing number filled url and thereby make it personal with their chosen username. To try shortening your new Google+ profile url, visit http://gplus.to/
To get a vanity url for your Google Plus account, copy the URL of your existing Google+ profile from the browser, open the gplus application (visit http://gplus.to/) and paste the long number filled url in the box that asks for your ‘Google+ ID’), then give your new username in the box that asks for ‘nick name’ and click the ‘add’ button. Your new Google Plus vanity url with your chosen username will be ready for you to use and share among your friends. For choosing a feasible and good nick name, care must be taken to ensure that it has more than 3 characters and does not cross 25 characters. You also cannot use numbers or any special characters for your Gplus nick name. Another advantage of using gplus is that it does not ask for your personal details.
So when the word was out about Gplus, within days a whopping 188727 users already registered and availed their services to shorten their Google+ profile URL. Even though Gplus is not a solution authorized or offered by Google, delaying getting registered with gplus might also mean you may not get your favorite nickname for your profile url as it might be taken by others who share your name. Gplus is created by a Turkish developer (Sirzat Aytac, http://gplus.to/sirzat ) and is free to use.