Short Names Come to Google My Business: Have You Reserved Yours?

Short Names Come to Google My Business: Have You Reserved Yours?

[UPDATE: November 19th, 2019] Short names now appear in the ‘About’ section of GMB, so they’re more visible than ever before.

Wouldn’t you prefer to share your Google My Business profile with a neat, punchy, and business specific URL? Well, if you’re finding yourself nodding then read on, because Ben Fisher is here to explain the latest big update to GMB.

Short names (or short links) have come to Google My Business (GMB). The feature has so far only rolled out to about 1% of GMB merchants.

You’ll know if you have it by looking at the ‘Info’ tab in business.google.com. If you do have the new feature, you’ll see it nestled between the phone number and website, and it’s represented with a @ icon. (Sorry, this has nothing to do with social media, folk!)

GMB Profile Short Name

Go take a look in your GMB dashboard now! You may already have it. If you do, don’t be tempted to add something right away, though, as you can only change your short name three times per year. Go take a look, come back, read on, then have a think about what you’d like to use.

Okay, now that you’re back, here’s a preview of what your short name will look like: g.page/{yourname}. Beautifully simple, isn’t it?

Short Name In GMB

Where Did Google My Business Short Names Come From?

This feature came from a distinct user need: businesses were using their GMB profiles as landing pages to get leads, display photos, earn reviews, create posts, write commentary, and share directions.

However, it’s never really been easy to share profile links with consumers, thanks to the gigantic URL. The release of short names is the first step towards making the business owner feel like GMB is part of their online presence, and something they can directly talk about with customers without referring to a URL with a long string of random numbers and letters.

A merchant can choose a short name between 5 and 32 characters in length. It can contain the name of the business, the location, and anything in between, so long as you do not violate any policies.

Now, this is not in any way related to the vanity URL that was around in the G+ days. I even asked Google, specifically, if they used any of the code from G+ (because that was a nightmare) and they emphatically said no.

There’s also a help page, Create a short name & URL for your business, where they have tons of details about how to create a short name, as well as how users and business owners can “flag a name for impersonation, offensive, fake, spam or inappropriate content issues”.

Common Questions

Do Google My Business short names work on desktop and mobile?

Yes.

Can you get suspended using a Google My Business short name?

Yes, if you break policies, by using a hateful name, for instance.

Can you choose a name that is not your business?

Yes, as long as it does not break any policies or infringe on another business trademark.

Are short names in the Google My Business API?

Not yet (as of April 18th, 2019).

Are Google My Business short names available for bulk users?

Not yet (as of April 18th, 2019).

Can you include a location in your Google My Business short name?

Yes!

Can I change my Google My Business short name?

Yes, three times a year.

Does case matter in my Google My Business short name?

Nope, you can use upper or lower case.

Can I lose my Google My Business short name?

Yes, if your account is deemed inactive or in violation.

Are Google My Business short names indexed in search?

No, they are 301 redirects

Do I need to be a verified business in Google My Business to get a short name?

Yes, only a verified profile can get a short name.

Can I see statistics around Google My Business short name use?

Not yet (as of April 18th, 2019).

Fun fact: Interestingly, if you go to www.g.page/[keyword] right now and that short name has not been claimed, you will just get a standard search. This is a great way to see if a short name has already been taken.

What Does the Future Hold for Short Names?

Could we see this work in a more transactionable way in the future? My guess is that that would make sense.

Could we see use cases for short names in reviews, photos, posts, follow, questions, share, bookings, reserve? Possibly. It would make sense to allow merchants an easy way to guide consumers to every part of their GMB profile.

Will there be problems? Of course there will be problems. There always are when new policies are involved! People will claim trademarks, and I’m sure we’ll see a bunch of ‘xyzsucks’ short names (this happens in the domain name and social media space all the time).

Will the feature improve? Yes, I believe the utility of it will.

How Can Marketing Agencies Get Prepared for Short Names?

Start the conversation with your clients now!

Explain that they’ll soon be able to send customers to leave a review at g.page/shortname/. Ask them what they want to use to represent themselves, to think about it in terms of branding, as well as how this short name will look on a business card. If  your client is multi-location, will there be a standard and consistent formatting of short names?

As an example, I asked a client of mine today if they wanted one. Of course they did! When I asked if they wanted a generic, high-profile keyword as the short name, they chose to go with that keyword followed by the cityname (g.page/keywordcityname).

One Final Thought…

While it’s great that Google has developed this feature, we’d do well to consider this: Google kills a ton of features.

Now, is this likely to happen with GMB short names? Probably not. However, here’s another scenario: Is it smarter to use in your marketing www.g.page/shortname/ or www.yourdomain.com/GMB/ redirecting to the short name URL? Let’s just say that one approach is potentially a little more future-proof than the other, so I’ll leave that to you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts about how you’d like to see Google evolve this feature. How can it help your clients? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to pass the information along to Google.

Ben Fisher
About the author
Ben Fisher
Ben Fisher is a Google My Business Gold Product Expert, and an experienced veteran in SEO and social since 1994. He is also a contributor to the Moz Local Search Ranking Factors Study. He’s the co-founder of Steady Demand, which works with agencies and businesses to maximize outsourced Local SEO and Social Media. He can be reached on Twitter at @TheSocialDude or @SteadyDemand.

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