The rumors around the Facebook water cooler were all true and last night the games began as Facebook users could start claiming their very own vanity URLs. Choosing a username was first reserved for businesses and partners of Facebook with more than 1000 fans, but the doors were opened to Joe Public and as of midnight, the regular folks can claim a username that will become the URL for their Facebook profile.
Once again Facebook listened to its users and heard the high demand for the vanity URL request. The introduction of vanity URLs will make connecting on Facebook easier for individuals and businesses. Instead of having to search through hundreds of possible name matches or distribute the current numerical id used by Facebook, you can simply distribute your personal URL for the site. Usernames are being distributed on a first come, first serve basis and must be a minimum of five characters (they may include letters, numbers and periods only-no special characters). If you have the perfect username in mind for your account, you will want to move quickly to claim it.
What do vanity URLs mean for search engine marketing? Traffic via natural search for one thing. As Facebook is one of the largest networks on the web, when you do a name search, you will usually see a Facebook result in the top ten (if anyone by that name is a member of Facebook of course). With the inclusion of vanity URLs, Facebook will likely become one of the top two search results for any person or business. Not to mention the possibility of adding Facebooks high page rank value to your SEO campaign.
There are ground rules in effect. For starters, you should pick your username carefully, because it is for life. If you do change your mind about your username selection, your only option will be to start a new account. Unfortunately, Facebook is not letting new accounts select specific usernames. Or at least for the time being. So individuals should choose carefully and businesses should choose relevancy.
In addition, generic usernames will not be available. Generic usernames would include pizza or cheese as a username. Facebook is encouraging individuals and businesses to select a username that is specific and relevant to their own identity or business. This is the smartest choice for businesses if they want their vanity URL from Facebook to add value to their online marketing campaign. There is a form available to prevent trademark infringement as well.
Usernames are filling up fast and if you want to be part of the Username Land Rush and add even more value to your Facebook Business account. Log on today and claim your name.