For the longest time, we all dreamed of vanity URLs for Facebook. I mean, MySpace let users create vanity URLs a long, long time ago. MySpace….LOL.
Facebook finally came around in June 2009 when they first let users create vanity URLs for their Facebook profiles. And during the creation process, Facebook reminded me a couple of times that once my vanity URL was set, it could never be changed. That’s right, Facebook. It’s probably a good idea to treat the Internet like a stone tablet. I mean, nothing can ever be changed on the Internet. And that day, I set my vanity URL in stone.
But wait! A couple of months ago, Facebook decided to let people have a mulligan on their vanity URL usernames. How about that!?! So here I am to write a blog post about a news event from 2 months ago. Maybe I should file this under ‘Just In Case You Missed It’.
To change your vanity URL, just go to the Edit Page -> Update Info. I’ll use my page, Good At Timeline, as an example:
Once you click ‘Update Info’, you’ll see this:
Click on ‘Change Username’, and you’ll get to this page:
In the field to the right, you can enter a new username. Mine is already set to ‘GoodAtTimeline’, so that appears pre-populated in the field. I don’t want to change mine. I’m just using this as an example. But if you want to change your URL username, enter something else into that field, and then click on ‘Check Availability’. If the new username is available, you can get it. If not, you will have to try another name. And bam – it’s that simple!
You should also notice this verbage in the box: “You may change this username once.” Okay, Facebook. Thanks for the warning, but I think you’re bluffing. You already came off your stance of NEVER being able to change my URL username. And that was just 3 years ago. I’m thinking that in another 3 years, you’ll probably let me add my own subdomain or something. That would be cool.
Things to Consider Before You Change Your Facebook URL Username
1. Facebook will not redirect your old URL to your new URL
Obviously this is problematic. And it’s not only problematic from an SEO perspective. It’s also problematic from an overall marketing perspective, especially if you have a lot of assets, such as display banners, that feature your current Facebook URL. Changing your URL will mean you actually have to go change a lot of your marketing materials and assets, both online and offline. That can get expensive. And just think about all the instances you can’t change – such as links and mentions from other websites! If you change your Facebook Page’s URL, you will lose a lot of link juice and authority. That is very costly to your SEO campaign. More importantly than that, you may lose visits to your facebook page, as your old URL will not redirect users. In fact, I’m not sure what will happen. It is highly possible that Facebook will throw your old URL username back into the wild for anyone else to claim. What if someone grabbed your old Facebook vanity URL and used it for themselves? That would not be fun. Not at all.
2. It can impact your page’s ability to be found in organic search (and maybe Facebook search)
If your Facebook Page ranks high in Google and/or Bing, you might want to think twice about changing the URL, especially if you can’t redirect the old URL after you change it. As mentioned in #1, someone could potentially claim your old URL and then also get the benefits of your organic search rankings. You worked hard for that ranking. You shouldn’t just give them away. Granted, over time Google will figure out that your new URL is now the official location of your awesome Facebook Page, and that your old Facebook URL was taken by someone that cannot possibly match your prowess as a social media marketer. So it’s very likely that you will get that ranking back. But it will take some time. One last note on this point: I’m not sure about how Facebook’s internal search uses the URLs to rank pages. So changing URLs could potentially have an impact on how well your site ranks in Facebook’s internal search.
One option you could think about it potentially having two Facebook pages. Keep your current page with its current URL. Create another Facebook Page and grab the URL you want. You could market to your old page and phase it out, all the while telling everyone on the old page about the new page. And even when you are no longer using the old page, you could keep it up – just so no one can get that URL. Just an idea…
Well, folks. That’s about. Now get out there and change your Facebook vanity URLs. Or don’t.