Facebook and SEO - Should You Claim The the Vanity URL
by Jo Shaer, on August 20, 2011
FEBRUARY 2015 UPDATE The Vanity URL is now called the Facebook Web Address.
And, yes, you very definitely should claim it. When you want to give the link to your Facebook page to people so they can visit/like, do you want to give them a link that says:
Easy to say, remember and add to any marketing literature.
When I first created the Facebook Page for Lollipop Local, it contained hyphens facebook.com/Lollipop-Local-Social-Media-Optimisation/0123455666789 which was great because it fulfilled all my SEO requirements by including my name and my keywords clearly delineated by hyphens so that they could easily be read by the search engine spiders.
Once a page has achieved 25 'likes' (this has to be from people, other pages don't count), - SEPTEMBER UPDATE: Facebook have announced that this is no longer necessary but the systems behind the process are very hit and miss currently - the usual advice is to claim the vanity url for your page so that you can get rid of the string of numbers at the end and ensure that no one else can use the same address.
If you want to claim your vanity url, go to the top of your page and where it says 'facebook.com' add the term '/username'
1. If the name of your page is not already showing in the 'page' box, click the dropdown and select it.
2. Another box will then appear asking for your desired name. You will notice that this will not allow you to use any characters other than letters or numbers. There can be no spaces or hyphens.
3. If you're happy with your name, click the 'Check Availability' button to see that no one else has already claimed that vanity url.
You will be taken to another page which tells you, hopefully, that your name is available and asks you to confirm that this is the name that you wish to claim.
What you must remember is that, once you have confirmed this name, that's it, you cannot change it. You also have to have the right to claim that name or it can be taken away. If someone else has already claimed the name, it is possible to challenge their right to use it, follow the instructions given at the Usernames for Facebook Help Center.
So, I claimed LollipopLocalSMO because Lollipop Local Social Media Optimisation seemed such a mouthful and SMO is becoming a recognised shortform. You can see the problem already can't you...? No hyphens so it's all one long word. The question is: 'Can the search engine robots read it without those hyphens?'
Well, if you think about all the long tail keyword domain names that are around, they seem to be able to manage.
So, it was rather strange to read the article about Facebook and SEO from one of my SEO gurus, Nick Stamoulis at Brick Marketing, and notice that, even though he had over 22,000 likes, he had not claimed his vanity url, even though he talked about the importance of having a custom Facebook url to make the most of search engine optimisation possibilities. I have tried to ask him several times but my comments don't seem to be accepted :(
Nick chose his original url because it contained both his business name and the keyword term 'seo and sem firm' and I recall, many months ago, being told that Facebook pages could rank for keywords because of the huge rank of the main Facebook Page so it was better to have facebook.com/keyword. However, someone else told me that it was better to go with the name of the company rather than the keyword. The latter rings truer for me, since you still have to be able to prove that you have a right to claim the page and so will need to be able to provide copies of utility bills if there was ever a challenge from someone else in that area.
So much conflicting information. I would be interested to know if anyone has any other information on this, as I cannot seem to find any definitive ruling.