Facebook Vanity URLs Could Help Search Engine Rankings

    March 13, 2009
    Chris Crum

Facebook is the most popular social network in the world. In areas where others have advantages over it, Facebook seems to be making changes to improve.Obviously there is the new Twitter-like functionality of its real-time news feeds/filters. But Mike Arrington points out another thing that Facebook is starting to do – vanity URLs.

This would be something like http://www.facebook.com/chriscrum. MySpace and Twitter both offer this kind of URL, but most users have no such luck with Facebook. More people are starting to get them now though, like Kevin Rose of Digg and Ashton Kutcher of The Butterfly Effect.

Ashton Kutcher Facebook Page

It’s unclear if this will become a feature more widely available to general users, but the business potential for Facebook would certainly be helped if it did. "There is not only a loss of branding or individuality with the Facebook random number generator URL string, but it sucks for SEO purposes," says Loren Baker at Search Engine Journal. "Furthermore, when looking past personal profiles and into Facebook fan pages (which are now set up similarly to profiles), the end result is worse."

"Brands are stuck with profiles which have the name of the brands in the URL strong, but no differentiation from the official brand page and fan pages set up by Facebook users," he explains. "There is no differentiation in the URL string what-so-ever to give the real brand page more value in search results or at first glance."

Even without vanity URLs, there are plenty of ways to get value out of Facebook from the business perspective. If the social network made these widely available, perhaps better Google rankings could be added to the list.