Up until now, Google has made it ridiculously hard for businesses to give customers a link to write reviews for their Google listing. You needed an easy way to invite customers to leave reviews.
Google’s Answer for years has been to manually create a link for customers to write reviews1
- Copying the link from search. The resulting link is too long to put on a business card or letter, and scary looking if you put it in an email. OR
- Go to one of their tools, do a search for your business, grab the number out of the tool and paste it on the end of another URL. If you’ve ever tried copy & pasting on a mobile phone, you’ll know just why this option is horrid. Add to that, if the business is a service area business (someone that only comes to your home or business to provide a service) Google’s tool won’t return the PlaceID number.
Based on the number of times we would get questions from people asking for their CID or PlaceID in the forums, it was clear Google’s tool method was not a good option. My guess is most folks used to take the long link from search and use Google’s now defunct URL shortener to come up with something to give to clients.
Business owners who wanted to give a short and sweet web address had to devise their own work-arounds to make it easy for customers.
Fortunately, Google has heard the feedback and have just released a new feature on Google My Business listings called “short name”.
Short Name = g.page/
This new web address (URL) enables each business to create a unique Local Vanity URL for each listing. Bear in mind, this is intended for smaller businesses with fewer locations rather than franchises or businesses with lots of locations.
Short names are only available for verified listings.
The short name does not replace either the CID approach (https://www.google.com/maps?cid=1083889242972429966) or the PlaceID approach (https://search.google.com/local/writereview?placeid=ChIJlWh8xzxs1moRjh49F4a_Cg8). Both of those methods still work, and will continue to work along side the g.page link.
At time of writing, this feature is rolling out to both Android & Desktop.
Short name endpoints
An endpoint is the destination target element of the GMB listing. Thinking of your listing, you might have a reason to direct people to your reviews, reservation feature, photos, appointments, and so on.
- g.page/shortname/review – open up to a “write a review” box.
- g.page/shortname/reserve – only available if you’re using a 3rd party “reserve with Google” partner, and your industry is restaurants, health or beauty.
As this feature rolls out, the range of options is expected to grow.
Choosing your Google short name
Keep your short name simple so you can easily promote it, and customers can remember it.
Google allows you to choose your own custom name for your business. It is not dependent on your GMB listing name, however Google will recommend your biz name.
To pick a unique short name, try to use words that represent your business name, brand, location, or other description. For example, you can use your business name with your location, like your city or neighbourhood.
There is no specific ‘right’ to names, unless there is a legal matter. Remember these short names are global, so just because you may have legal rights to the name in your country, it’s unlikely you’ll have rights everywhere on the planet.
Names can be 5-32 characters in length. There are no rules for acronyms, and each location gets just one unique name. If you do have multiple locations, it makes sense to use a combination of your chain name + location. Google is working on the right experience for medium to large chains. For now, listings have to claim names individually. Bulk editing may come later.
Because these are not officially being indexed, keyword stuffing your short name doesn’t make a lot of sense. (I say officially because I can find thousands of URLs that are indexed.) Keyword stuffing is also against the guidelines, so you could end up with your listing suspended.
The short name gets quickly turned into a maps link when your customers use it.
Google also says the links are not case-sensitive, but if you want to make the URL easier to read, you can use caps to help separate words for humans. For example: g.page/ShortName/ is the same as g.page/shortname/.
For the technically minded, be aware the URL has a 302 redirect, meaning no link juice or ranking benefit.
Changing your short name
You can change your local vanity URL up to 3 times in 12 months. You can’t update an existing one, only create a new variation on that name.
Don’t take this lightly, there are repercussions. If you change your custom name, the short name turns into a Google search. Eg: https://www.google.com/search?q=shortname.
- If you’re using an endpoint such as “/review/”, a changed vanity URL will turn into 404. That’s not a good user experience.
- If you change a short-name, the old name stays out in the “register” for a period of time and is not usable by others. Am checking with Google on how long that is supposed to be in quarantine, as testing shows it’s weeks and still counting.
- If you change a short name, there is no “redirect” option to move people along with your change. The URL simply malfunctions.
- There may be times when the short name is not removed if not deemed as abusive. Google recommends you choose another name.
- You can have only have one (1) short name, and it cannot be transferred.
Who can change the name?
Listing owner, managers & site managers. Communication between the parties will be key to keeping any naming conventions intact.
Tracking the vanity URL
Google are not including visit use information in GMB Insights, unfortunately.
Close examination of the final URL reveals Google has inserted tracking codes on the base URL. The source is defined as coming from g.page. It doesn’t, however, have a source if the URL has an endpoint.
Still, it would be useful if they did extend the tracking to all URL’s. As the feature expands, I can see value in knowing if people are using the link for reviews, maybe photos, appointments, or any other element.
Use this where it makes sense, and how it makes sense. Remember this system belongs to Google and they can suspend the link, the listing, or the whole account, depending on the circumstances.
- Google’s Announcement > Pilot launch: Short names on your Business Profile
- Google’s Documentation > Create a short name & URL for your business
- For legal issues, like copyright or trademark disputes, submit a report here
I have been working with local businesses as a Local SEO specialist since 2010 and as a Google My Business Product Expert (formerly called Top Contributor) since 2016. I write about GMB suitable for most folks, business owners included.
When not working for clients, I volunteer with the local businesswomen’s network, volunteers on Google’s forum, and the Local Search forum.
Away from the keyboard I’m a very busy mother with two boys, nine chickens, two cows, three sheep, a cockatiel and a stupidly happy dog.
Read more about me on the “about” page!