A Vanity URL is a customized short form of a long URL that redirects users from one web location to another web location. Since Vanity URL is short and descriptive, it is more memorable, pronounceable, and striking to the users viewing it.
It is also known as a branded link or a custom short URL. Usually, URLs tend to be woefully long and almost impossible to remember. When such URLs are converted into customized links having your brand name, you get a vanity URL.
A vanity URL contains your domain name with the name of your brand or a relevant keyword for your business. Vanity URLs can align your marketing efforts and can be used in multiple places like social media, print publications, emails, and other offline marketing efforts.
Vanity URLs should be used only where necessary. It should be clear, precise, optimized for SEO, and should describe the webpage where the link will lead the user to.
Importance of Vanity URLs
Vanity URLs have several advantages, but one of the main reasons why brands use these URLs is because they are shorter and customized. The shorter version looks good on your social media pages and on your paid ads.
Vanity URLs help to build trust as the user is assured that they won’t be redirected to a phishing or spammy website when clicking on such branded links. When a brand attaches its name to the URL, it instills confidence in the users about the brand’s trustworthiness and transparency.
The users know the content linked to a vanity URL is relevant to their search as well as consistent with the brand, which helps to increase click-through rates (CTR). Vanity URLs can increase CTR by up to 39% when used instead of long URLs or generic short ones.
Control over the vanity link
A brand having the ability to organize, edit, and control all the links its organization shares has a strong link management game. Since links are the addresses and paths leading to your website, using the domain name of your brand in the short links leads to better link management.
Since you control how a vanity URL looks, you can edit the description, delete them, or change the URL destination whenever required.
Increased Click-Through Rate
We know how vanity URLs help to build user trust and increase CTR rates. Vanity URLs are also capable of handling integrated link targeting and UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) tools. A UTM tool is a simple code that, when attached to any URL, can generate Google Analytics data useful for measuring the impact of your digital campaign.
Integrated link targeting helps you to add people to a retargeting list that redirects the users to your website, even if it is a third-party website. Doing this can help you increase your top funnel traffic by over 500%.
Since vanity links are short and succinct, they are visually appealing, presentable, and more shareable than long links. They are comprehensible and well-connected to the brand. These traits make vanity links a great option for offline marketing initiatives like print publications and adverts too.
They are also great for word-of-mouth publicity and more convenient for sharing on social media and other online platforms. Unlike long links that are merely a random juxtaposition of symbols, numbers, and words, short URLs are easy to understand and remember, and can be engineered to make them more shareable.
The SEO value increases manifold
A vanity URL usually includes either the brand name or a relevant keyword that’s connected to your business. This branding effort to improve the URL slug for your links is great for SEO optimization. SEO increases your brand’s visibility and places your website on top of the competitors in search engine results.
Vanity URLs also give you the added benefit of brand recognition, i.e., when the URL links contain the name of your brand and the users get to view it again and again, the retention value increases, and every time that keyword appears, the user would subconsciously connect the keyword with your brand name.
Gives you insights into your customers
It is necessary to track the progress and performance of your digital marketing campaigns for which vanity URLs can play their part. Vanity URLs help to measure and track if the content being shared is creating the right stir. Vanity URLs can have UTM codes attached that give Google Analytics insights on user behavior, demographics, etc.
As the vanity URLs get more shares, you get greater insights into your online marketing campaigns.
Vanity URLs Vs. Domain URLs
Although Vanity URLs look similar to your domain URLs, they are quite different. The main difference is that the domain URL is your main URL, and the vanity URL is the link that you want visitors to see.
A domain URL has only the name of your website, a vanity URL can have any content that you want. It can have keywords, product names, calls to action, and more. It helps you to get potential customers to your website or the actual URL you are aiming for.
Remember, a vanity URL and a vanity domain are different too as vanity domains are created to represent an individual person.
Impact of Vanity URLs on SEO
We now know that vanity URLs are shorter, clearer and more memorable. But what impact does it have on SEO?
URLs that are shorter seem to rank higher on Google SERP when compared with URLs with longer content. One of the reasons for this higher click-through rate could be its ease of sharing, re-call value and optimization.
Another reason for the better click-through rate could also be the incorporation of keywords in the URL. The impact could be small but significant. Choosing keywords that are relevant to your brand or product could also help.
While you might think of these changes as minuscule, they can have incremental value. When you concentrate on keyword research, it can have a greater impact on your business. When you add 301 Redirect to your link, you can retain and transfer the intrinsic ranking power to the new URL – but this time to a shorter and cleaner URL.
However, you should also note that a vanity URL will not help your website if you have compromised content, bad optimization, or a slower loading site.
Vanity URLs Best Practices
Keep It Short and Simple
Vanity URLs are meant to be short and clean.
Keep in mind that some paid ad platforms limit the length of a URL. A longer URL might not be displayed on ads. Make sure the URL has complete descriptive words. The words should convey the meaning and encourage clicks.
Use relevant and related keywords in the URL. This will give you a significant boost in rankings. Besides, your customers will also be able to understand where the link is leading them to. Before using keywords, make sure you research them and use them effectively.
Be Clear and Concise
Be very clear in the choice of your keywords and wordings. To be able to earn the trust of your customers, make sure they know the type of content the link is taking them to. Make sure that the content provided beyond the slashtag is relevant to the content on the URL link.
Avoid Dashes in your Vanity URLs
Eliminate any distractions like dashes in your URL, since your users generally do not remember such intricate details. If you can make do without dashes, then avoid such small details as hyphens, dashes and numbers.
Use Vanity URLs only when required
Understand vanity URL meaning for your business, and only use it when necessary and when you gain a meaningful advantage from them. Having a vanity URL for every link does not serve the purpose. The main goal of a vanity URL is to shorten the link to gain mileage. But if the original URL is doing this job, there is absolutely no need to play with it.
Integrate your Vanity URL in your SEO strategy
If you are able to combine your SEO strategy with vanity URL, you could strike gold. Choose the right keywords and the right content on the linking page so that the vanity URL compliments your SEO and marketing strategy.
For this to happen, you need to spend considerable energy in researching keywords, and creating effective content.
Benefits of Vanity URLs
Easier to remember and pronounce
A vanity URL is short and clean, making it easy to remember and pronounce. The link should be created in such a way that your users can remember the exact wordings. They should also be able to understand the intent behind the words.
Boosts Brand Awareness
A vanity URL can do wonders to your brand awareness and recognition. With a vanity URL, you are letting users connect with you not only with your website, but also through other channels like social media. With each link, you are actually marketing your brand across multiple channels and increasing the recall value of your brand.
In addition to increasing brand awareness, a vanity URL also builds trust and reliability. When the content in the link is relevant, engaging and informative, it develops trust in your brand. A link with a brand name is likely to be clicked on, and by having your brand name in every link, you are assuring your customers that useful information is present on the page linked to.
Easy to Share
A short customized link is much easier to share on social media pages than a bunch of unintelligible numbers and letters. Shorter links are often shared easily than their lengthier counterparts. Additionally, a shorter vanity URL is much more comprehensible than long and cumbersome URLs that do not make sense to the user.
Think about it; a long string of random numbers and letters is not easy to remember and difficult to share. Whereas, shorter, cleaner and distinct keywords relevant to the content can even be shared verbally. Vanity URLs are practical ways of directing people to the pages you want them to notice specifically.
Simple to Use
While one part of vanity URLs is their ease in sharing, the other part is the ease in using. As a marketer, a vanity URL gives you a plethora of benefits, especially when sharing content on social media sites or platforms that restrict the word count.
By using a custom URL, you can also track the actions of your users. If you have noticed, several social media sites give their users many tools to track user behaviour. However, they fall short in terms of offering data about users after the link has been clicked. This is where a large chunk of useful information is lost. In the case of custom URLs, it is possible to gather highly useful information even after a link is clicked.
Helps with Link Retargeting and Management
You can track the performance of your ads with vanity URLs. You can obtain useful information about the clicks, conversions and more. With such information at hand, it will be easier for you to make changes to the URL, tweak the words, and represent it to enhance performance.
You can also determine the number of people who clicked on the URL and add them to your retargeting list. With such techniques, you can easily generate traffic considerably. Additionally, UTM parameters in your link enhance the tracking and accounting capabilities as well.
How to Create a Vanity URL for your PPC Ads
A vanity URL has three major parts – the brand name, TLD and URL Slug.
- Brand Name: Choose a domain name that speaks about your brand identity and business. For better brand recognition, try to include the exact business name in the domain.
- Top-Level Domain: Choose any top-level domain type that is relevant to your business – it could be news, educational, or more.
- URL Slug: The URL slug or the phrase used after the backslash should indicate the type of content on the landing page. This part of the URL should be clear and consistent with the content linked to it.
How to Create Vanity URLs for Your Social Media Ads
Unique custom user names make your business stand out from the competition. Most social media sites allow both celebrities and common people to create vanity URLs. A customized URL makes your brand appear more personalized, and unique. And, it also makes the URL easy to share and remember.
Many social media sites shorten the links – without requiring any effort from your end. For example, Twitter brings all the links to its shortened version – and makes it easier for you to add author-branded URLs as well. In Facebook, vanity URLs allow for faster brand identification. It also makes the link appear credible and authoritative. The vanity URL on Facebook makes it shareable and identifiable.
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