Will Facebook Give Away Vanity URLs in a Landrush?

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fblogosmallWhile some businesses working with Facebook have been able to get a Facebook vanity URL for some time now, rumors are surfacing that Facebook may soon open up vanity URL registration to any user who wants one in a first come, first served land rush.

Under such a system, users would be able to get URLs like facebook.com/mark for their own personal profiles. (However, some of the most common first names are already taken.)

Administering such a landrush would be a significant challenge. Presumably, Facebook wouldn’t let users register trademarked terms or generic words like “lasvegashotels” that could be used to simply generate spammy SEO traffic. Facebook would have to establish clear rules for how the vanity URLs would be distributed.

Clearly, vanity URLs represent one of the best SEO opportunities on Facebook ever – and more vanity URLs would be good for Facebook’s own SEO efforts, too. However, Facebook has to be careful how they roll out the program, because URL changes are hard to undo in the SEO world. Facebook pages with vanity URLs are especially valuable to businesses, many of whom would likely be willing to pay significant chunks of money for the rights to a good vanity URL. Such a program could be a nice secondary revenue stream for Facebook.

As of yet, Facebook has not officially stated how it decides who gets vanity URLs, or what its future roadmap for vanity URLs will be. A Facebook spokesperson recently told Inside Facebook:

“We don’t offer specifics on which parties may have received ‘vanity’ URLs, but it’s something we’ve experimented with and have only offered on a very limited basis. We’re looking at how we might roll this functionality out to all of our users, but we don’t have anything to announce at this time.”

In other words, Facebook is still evaluating different ways of rolling out vanity URLs to balance SEO and direct sales opportunities. Personally, I’d open up the bidding to businesses first before giving away vanity URLs to users.