Vanity URL

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Definition

A vanity URL is a shorter, customized version of a long website address. This is still a unique web address which will take users to the same web page but, because it is shorter and more indicative of the web page it refers to.

In addition, it is designed to be more visually appealing (so looks more attractive when used for marketing materials), cleaner, easier to remember, appears safer for users to click on, and is clearly tied to your website or other online materials.

This process is often used for URLs that are being incorporated in print-based marketing materials, on a social media post, or incorporated in a marketing email.

Vanity URLs are also commonly referred to as branded links or custom short URLs.

Example vanity URL structure

Vanity URLs can be customized by the user. A long web address is then converted into this specified link. By clicking this vanity URL, users are still redirected to the same web address, but it is simply designed to be a more attractive website link than the longer version (with more complex letters and symbols incorporated within it) would be.

A strong example of a vanity URL would be the conversion of the first web address to the second link.

www.aclothesshop.com/shop/products/uk/r/black-t-shirt-4423332?seq=48593^$=29238%M
www.aclothesshop.com/black-t-shirt

As you can see with the second example, it is immediately clear that users will be taken to the product page for a black t-shirt. The second link is also cleaner, shorter, more memorable, and generally more visually appealing.

In addition, the second link appears far more trustworthy because it is much easier to identify what the link is taking you to. Therefore, this means that an individual who was previously unfamiliar with your company would most likely feel more comfortable clicking on the second link if they, for example, came across it on social media

A third benefit of vanity URLs is that when they are used in a print campaign, for example, the link is far easier for customers to remember. Or, they could even copy it down directly to access later on. This is especially useful if your advert is being displayed on a poster or billboard, as it is being viewed by people passing it while on the move. So, this gives them the opportunity to look at your company in closer detail at a more convenient moment.

As a result of these factors, the second link would be far better suited for use in a company’s marketing campaign for this black t-shirt product.

Common uses of vanity URLs

Vanity URLs are regularly used for marketing purposes, as a shorter, cleaner link to advertise on promotional materials.

Other examples where vanity URLs can enhance a marketing campaign include competitions or new promotional offers. In these instances, the URLs provide a simple, memorable link to a specific web page where more information can be found, which is clearly affiliated to your existing company website.

Alongside marketing, vanity URLs can be used for a company that provides a variety of different functions which it is wishing to advertise on its website. For example, a company may offer both car breakdown services and car modification services. If so, they could use vanity URLs to differentiate between two different pages on the website. Then, customers can easily be directed to the relevant web page.

The other benefit that comes with doing this is that you can ensure a variety of keywords are included on your website and links, which cover all of your company’s different services. We will cover this in more detail later in the article.

If you are in possession of a franchise, or your company exists in multiple locations, vanity URLs are a great way for you to provide your customers with separate URLs relating to each individual location, which are clearly specific to each site.

A vanity URL could also exist as a link which is entirely unique and is completely separate from the URL of your company’s main website.

Alternatively, the vanity URL could link to an obscure subdomain which, through a 301 Redirect, makes it far easier to access.

Vanity URLs are unique, as search engines do not receive this URL. It exists as a link that is solely designed to be viewed by human visitors.

How to create a vanity URL

The practice of creating a vanity URL requires you to consider a new URL structure which is clear, easy to remember, and contains keywords which the visitor can use to easily identify what they can expect to find by following this link.

Furthermore, a vanity URL structure should be on-brand - it should clearly link to any other web pages that your company already has, and clearly contain the company name.

Once you have decided upon the perfect domain, check that it is available, then purchase it.

You can then add the destination URL from your existing webpage to your new, custom domain. This will then affiliate your custom URL with this pre-existing page. As a result, users will be redirected to your existing site when they type in your new domain. Please note that this step may vary slightly depending on the provider that you use for your company site.

Alternatively, you could use a software to assist with the management of your links, such as Bitly. Bitly is a domain management platform, which can help users to create a vanity URL.

Commonly, website content management systems (such as WordPress and Shopify) have both automatic and custom settings available, which marketers can use to create and modify vanity URLs.

SEO best practices for vanity URLs

Above, we outlined how vanity URLs are useful for marketing purposes and can assist companies that provide a range of different services, occupy a number of different locations, or exist as a franchise.

The added bonus that comes with this is the way in which on-page SEO can be used within each of these pages, to more accurately target the specific target market for this offering.

For example, with franchise pages, you can utilize local SEO to target regional, local customers on each web page. Similarly, with different links for car breakdown and car modification services, you can incorporate specific SEO keywords for each of these elements of your company. In addition, this can be achieved while still keeping both pages linked to your company’s main site.

However, if you do choose to do this, it is vital that you do not duplicate content across these different pages. If you do so, this could dramatically hinder your web pages’ search engine ranking.

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