Update: Google Plus custom urls without extra characters

Update: Google Plus custom urls without extra characters

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Custom URLs for Google Plus Local Pages

In our last article about this subject I discussed the challenges of getting a Google Plus custom url without having to add extra characters for Bossa Nova Interactive’s local/brand page.

After much trial and error we found that the best method was to hunt down and delete duplicate business listings.

I’ve also written about the process of removing duplicate Google+ pages, but that article covered listings that show up in your Google Places (now Google My Business) dashboard. In other words, the listings that you have some control over.

But what about the listings that you don’t control?

In my case, there were two types of duplicates

  1. Duplicate listings in my places dashboard that hadn’t been completely deleted yet
  2. Other duplicates I found by performing a search for my business name in Google+.

The second type had not been claimed or even filled out with relevant information. These did not even really show up unless you searched for the business name (vs. keyword or business category.)

One of them didn’t even resolve to a webpage or listing. It just gave a 404 error (not found) when you clicked on the link.

Here’s what how it eventually got fixed:

I contacted Google Support and they were actually helpful and responsive. They looked up the listings I sent in my trouble ticket and explained that the duplicates were already in the queue to be deleted. Apparently the deletion process takes a while, so the listing may still show up in various places (Googe+, Local, Maps, Search, etc.)

Turns Google support staff was right. I just had to wait until those duplicates went away. The process took about 3 weeks, but your milage may vary.

After that waiting period in which the duplicates were finally permanently deleted, I was sent the good news by email:

Google Plus Custom URL email notification

Success at last!

I claimed the offered URL and then changed the capitalization shortly thereafter for branding purposes.

The end result was http://google.com/+BossaNovaInteractive. Thanks Google!

I tried the Google+ domain name hack, but it didn’t work for me.

You’ll see by the screenshot below that I tried a couple of things before just waiting it out.

George Chalhoub had posted about his success with what I’m calling the “domain name hack” approach. While it did work for him, I had no such luck.

The short version: the theory is that if you change your domain name and get it verified, you can add the extra characters to make up the name you want, thereby circumventing this issue altogether.

I already owned the domain name bossa.co, which I use for my own custom URL shortening purposes. So I changed the URL for my Google+ Local page and waited a couple of days after verifying.

Sure enough, I was presented with a new custom URL choice, but it was +BossaCo. Obviously I had hoped to be presented with +Bossa so that I could add characters to make up the rest of my business name, but I couldn’t do much with “Co” being added.  .Co domain names are popular but like most two digit TLDs they represent a country code (Colombia, in this case.) Apparently Google factors these country code domain extensions into the process.

Next up I registered bossanovainteract.com and verified it with my Google+ listing. A few days later I was excited to get the setup I wanted…

Custom URL for Google Plus - attempt 3, BossaNovaInteract

But when I went to submit it, I got the error above. I guess this was a good thing because it will prevent others from trying to also grab my business name as their url, but some part of me was hoping it would work.

As stated above, I did finally get the custom URL I was after without adding characters, but I’d say the whole process took about a month or so.

Google+ Custom URL success

You can see all of the past attempts at using the “domain hack” in the screenshot above.

Also interesting to note is that at every attempt, I was presented with the option “a suffix is required.”

This is good because there are many businesses that won’t have exclusive names.

For example, if you own a business called AAA Plumbing, its doubtful that you’ll be able to lock that down.

That’s okay, actually, because it could be a good use of the “add extra characters” field to add your city name or region to the URL. So you could claim +AAAPlumbingNorfolkVa, for example.

Have you claimed your Google+ custom URL yet?

I’m sure plenty of businesses and individuals are running into this issue. Leave a comment below to let us know how it has gone for you.

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  1. FOLLOW-UP: Apologies folks, I must have never posted the link to the support form and now I can’t find it. That usually means that even if I did have it, Google has changed or hidden it.

    If you read the article, you’ll see that contacting Google didn’t really help at all, though. They just verified that I had some duplicates and that they could see I had deleted them, and they told me it could take weeks/months for them to go away. I just kept checking back every week to see if the custom URL option became eligible for the name I wanted.

    If you have this problem, just realize that it may never happen. You might want to begin thinking about what extra text to add to the URL now so that when you get frustrated and give up, you’ll have the choice then. In the grand scheme of things, it will make little difference when marketing your business, as long as it is something you can 1. say out loud and 2. write easily.

    Best of luck!
    P.S. If this article’s content was locked for you initially, it is now unlocked. I had a plugin break on me so I disabled that feature.

    • I put a link in the updated article to the form I used. But I gotta say, if you’ve tried to use Google Support in the past, the experience was much more improved than previous attempts in the last couple of years. I don’t want to jinx it, but it seems like they stepped up their game a bit in that department. *fingers crossed* See followup comment from me on this story.

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