Home > Fail > Google+ Rolling Out Custom URLs To Users But Doing It Horribly

Google+ Rolling Out Custom URLs To Users But Doing It Horribly

Google Plus Logo

A few weeks back it was announced that Google+ was finally going to allow regular users to adopt Vanity URLs for their profiles and rid themselves of URLs like https://plus.google.com/105175761337711150993/posts (yes, that’s my real Google+ URL). Sounds great, right? Finally the common folk would be given on Google+ what most other modern social networks had from the outset, the ability to pick our own screen names and have a URL to link to which isn’t ridiculously unwieldy and next to impossible to remember.

All sounded fantastic until you went to the Google+ Help page and read their “Getting Started with Google+ Custom URLs” file. The second one reads:

“You’ll see the URL(s) you’ve been approved for. If you see more than one option, select the one you like best. You may also be asked to add a few numbers or letters to make the custom URL unique to you.”

So wait, I have to use the one Google approves for me? I can’t be Google.com/+TheDanLevy which is  my screenname on darn near every other social network I use? OK, well maybe they’ll lighten up some day and I’ll be able to change it, right? NOPE! Check out the sixth rule in the red box below

Google Plus Vanity URL Rules

“Once approved, this URL will be linked to your Google+ page or Profile, so be sure everything is exactly the way you want it. Once your URL has been approved, you can’t request to change it.”

I was feeling a bit pessimistic when I read that but friends who are way bigger Google+ users assured me, “You can request a different one if you have a valid reason” and “There is flexibility… You just have to request it…” so I decided to see what Google did when they finally got around to offering me a custom URL. Well, today that finally happened!

Google Plus Vanity URL  Notification

The notification appeared at the top of my Google+ profile page and I clicked the blue button excitedly. That excitement quickly turned to disappointment when I saw what Google was offering me as my Custom URL.

Google Plus Vanity URL Dialog

I could have +DanLevy1981 or +DanLevyExtraLetters but I couldn’t have +TheDanLevy. I didn’t even have a choice of multiple variations on the them. No +DLevy or +DanielLevy or +DanL. Only +DanLevy with whatever random extra characters I added after. My earlier pessimism was confirmed.

OK, well maybe it will let me take +DanLevy and leave it at that? That wouldn’t be what I wanted originally but it’d work quite nicely and still look professional. So I tried that and got this:

Google Plus Vanity URL Dialog Fail


Well that totally stinks! But, as I have mentioned in my Dan Levy FAQ blog post a while back, Dan Levy is a super popular name so it must be taken already…right? NOPE! Google has decided to add insult to injury and not only won’t they let me use +DanLevy but apparently no one else is allowed to use +DanLevy either. Go on and check it yourselves google.com/+DanLevy on Nov 7, 2013 at 3:45pm EST brings you to a 404 page. Same goes with +TheDanLevy.

Google Plus Vanity URL +DanLevy 404 page.jpg

Am I not important enough of a Dan Levy for Google to give me the URL that no one else is using? Are they reserving it for a Dan Levy who is more famous than I am? What ever happened to first come, first served? It isn’t like I even had a choice of when the Custom URL was going to be available to me. Funniest part of this whole thing is that I don’t even want +DanLevy! I want +TheDanLevy but there seems to be no way for me to get it. So much for “Don’t Be Evil” as a corporate motto!

I keep seeing so much promise with the Google+ social network but it seems every time they take a few steps forward and make it more awesome they take double the amount of steps backwards leaving us without a real reason to totally abandon Facebook and make the move to Google+. Fail.

  1. November 8, 2013 at 4:23 pm

    That’s weird. Right out of the gate, G+ gave me https://plus.google.com/+MarkShannon and I didn’t have to add or remove anything special.

    • November 8, 2013 at 5:38 pm

      Well I guess youre lucky, Mark…or maybe Google likes you more than me. 😉

    • Todd
      May 23, 2014 at 3:21 pm

      Yeah! I see MANY people with their name, but I too cannot get mine. Hoping there is a fix

  2. November 8, 2013 at 5:54 pm

    I got https://plus.google.com/+PeterHopeTindall – although I would have preferred just HopeTindall which is what I use on Twitter/Facebook, etc.


    • November 28, 2013 at 7:29 pm

      Well at least you weren’t forced to add extra characters for no particular reason. My concern with doing what they want is they say currently that once you choose a personalized URL there’s no going back and changing it after. (Which is downright idiotic if they’re unwilling to help out with their own ridiculous system they should at least allow for a note to be made that people who they refuse to help now but are asking for assistance should be able to change screennames later.)

  3. stefanvetter
    November 11, 2013 at 11:17 am

    Same problem here, Dan. My name is also not taken (http://google.com/+StefanVetter), but Google is also forcing me to add stupid random characters to it. Really annoying. If you find out a solution. let me know.

    • November 28, 2013 at 7:22 pm

      Will do. For right now I am holding off on doing anything and have already messaged the Google+ Help about it. Seems there is nothing they can do though (or are willing to do).

  4. November 11, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve got exactly the same problem. For a bunch of people who are always slapping themselves on the back because of how clever they are, it is just so dumb. Someone has firstnamesecondname@gmail.com as an email address because they signed up for gmail really early on. Why on earth not suggest they have the same string… firstnamesecondname as their custom url? People want their custom url to be consistent with their gmail address. It’s doubly annoying when you check to see if someone has the url you want and you just get a 404 error, so no one has (yet).

    My own theory is that this is to do with different empires in Google. The Google+ team want your custom url to allocated on how popular you are on social, or at least reserve it until they can establish that. The fact that you’ve been on gmail since the year dot, have had half a dozen Android phones, a chromebook and pay for Drive and Music doesn’t come into their reckoning.

    • November 28, 2013 at 7:25 pm

      Ya, the whole thing seems silly to me. I don’t get why they’re doing the roll out this way at all. I hope that someone thought of this as a good way to do it and have good reasons for doing it this way…I can’t fathom what it might be though.

  5. December 2, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Any update on the silly add numbers things?

    • December 2, 2013 at 4:56 pm

      Alas, no there is not.

  6. December 4, 2013 at 10:09 am

    Any news?

    • December 4, 2013 at 10:11 am

      No. I have heard nothing.

  7. December 5, 2013 at 8:22 am

    I’ve just started a new website thewebarc.com and created a page for it. And when I clicked ‘get url’, its saying me the same as you, Enter few characters. When I checked plus.google.com/+TheWebArc, its showing 404. Why can’t google let users choose their own username at least???

    • December 6, 2013 at 12:42 pm

      Hey, today I got the wanted vanity url http://plus.google.com/+TheWebArc. I don’t know how but today they shown some more available urls for page including the one I wanted for my page 🙂

      • January 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        It’s because you verified your website, and your website name is the exact same name as the “+TheWebArc” section. The problem for all of us is that these are our personal accounts so it’s not working that way.

      • January 1, 2014 at 11:14 pm

        It’s because you verified your website, and your website name is the exact same name as the “+TheWebArc” section. The problem for all of us is that these are our personal accounts so it’s not working that way.

  8. December 6, 2013 at 5:28 am

    Same frustration here… With additional characters I really don’t see the point. It makes it look like stupid old e-mail addresses when hotmail was at its peak.
    Looks like 109696567787248814973 will have to do me for now! 😦

  9. Jimbo69
    December 16, 2013 at 5:36 am

    I have a very unique name, due to a change in the spelling that happened when my great grandparents immigrated to the US. There is no chance of it being taken on Google+ unless someone was impersonating me. Still, it demands that I add something extra, like 69. Thanks Google!

  10. Aaron
    January 16, 2014 at 3:53 am

    I’m having the same issue (extra characters required)! Thanks for posting. Knowing I’m not the only one provides some consolation. Haha.

    • January 16, 2014 at 12:24 pm

      Ya, I suppose it does although I’m sure you, like me, would rather have your name without silly hurdles especially since Google had stated once a URL is chosen it cannot be changed.

  11. yolo
    January 16, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    simple. had this problem. simply shortened my google name by 1 letter, logged in and out to ensure change or whatever. Logged in, click to get custom url, add the letter back when prompted, hey presto you have your vanity id. Log out, log in, check url works (needlessly), change name back, log in n out once more, all set.

    I only wanted to not have to add to google’s preimagined name, but sure it would work with changing name v. briefly to whatever, as long as you don’t have any gmail emails going out on auto maybe, or too many youtube subscribers who’ll hit the roof for the 20 odd seconds you have a different name. (As you have one google name for your account across all google services (bottom of here https://support.google.com/accounts/answer/112783)).

    hope this helps, surprised no one has mentioned this, first thing i thought of after having looked on here, really hope it works, i spent some time finding 10 folk i knew and would actively actually go on and add me back and was pissed when couldn’t get the vanity i wanted. Let me know results!

    using pseudonym to put google off my wriggling ***.

    ciao xx

    • January 17, 2014 at 4:57 pm

      @Yolo: YOU ARE BRILLIANT!!! Great lateral thinking!!! This is amazing!!! I now own THANK YOU!!!

      • Kefir
        January 20, 2014 at 6:21 pm

        It just didn’t work for me. I shortened my name by one letter, logged out and then back in. I added the missing letter and still got the annoying message saying that the URL is not available (although I still get a 404).

        How many of you guys had the Yolo method working out?

      • Aaron
        January 23, 2014 at 12:01 am

        Same here, Kefir. I tried the workaround too but it wouldn’t let me have the url, even though it resolves to a 404.

      • January 23, 2014 at 12:04 am

        Oh wow, that stinks! l wonder if the loophole got closed.

      • Aaron
        January 23, 2014 at 12:12 am

        The funny thing is, I tried it like five minutes after yolo posted the workaround on the 16th. haha. So perhaps some accounts may be out of luck (for now at least).

      • January 23, 2014 at 12:17 am

        Very, very odd!

      • yolo
        January 27, 2014 at 7:06 am

        just added you on G+

      • yolo
        January 27, 2014 at 7:07 am

        yolo unmasking . . . . . . . . . .

      • January 27, 2014 at 10:17 am

        Haha Hello!

      • January 27, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        A couple of people added me on G+ by the time I checked the notifications so I still don’t actually know who you are Yolo.
        (I can guess though…just go with the most common sounding name of all the recent adds.)

    • February 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm


      It wouldn’t give me BrandonCurtis (even following your suggestion), but it WOULD give me BrandonScottCurtis if I temporarily changed my name. Good enough!

    • April 18, 2014 at 2:56 pm

      @yolo – Thank you. I know this thread is a bit old, but just wanted to say your method still works perfectly. Awesome.

    • April 18, 2014 at 3:28 pm

      I tried this and it did not work for me… 😦

    • TP
      June 6, 2014 at 11:09 am

      cool idea but i’d be careful with it because G+ states it on their G+ help site that changing your name to get the custom URL you want could lead to the URL getting revoked:

      “We require you to use the name you are commonly known by in your Google+ profile, and don’t recommend changing your profile name unless your name has changed. Note that users who change their name to get a new custom URL assignment may result in your profile being reviewed, and the custom URL revoked. For more general information about custom urls, please read this article: https://support.google.com/plus/answer/2676340.”

    • January 19, 2015 at 12:07 am

      Try this, as explained, shorten my name one letter, but when I put the letter and intent to request the name, tells me that is not available, even validate that no one else is using. Any ideas?

    • July 6, 2015 at 11:35 am

      Works for me thank you

  12. January 16, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    @yolo you are a bloody genius, thanks for the tip brother! THIS IS A GREAT WAY TO BYPASS THAT SILLY SHIT! 😀
    @Dan Levy, I suggest you try this method out. it worked like a charm.

    • yolo
      January 17, 2014 at 6:48 am

      my pleasure, i was chuffed to bits

    • yolo
      January 17, 2014 at 6:50 am

      oh, but it wasn’t that clever was it? I guess i thought Google would have been on top of that dodge but eventually they’d have to let you get a URL with whatever silly name you dreamt up. Did no one else try this?

  13. Kevin McGuire
    February 1, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    I tried the Yolo method and had the same problem many of you were having. So I kept editing my name by trimming off a letter in hopes that eventually I would find a combo that worked. Unfortunately, I tried to edit my name too many times and Google eventually stopped me from changing it any more. So just proceed with caution. I imagine I can get it fixed, but it could end up being an extra hassle if you keep trying to work the system.

  14. February 4, 2014 at 11:05 am

    @TheDanLevy Hey Dan, I see you finally got +TheDanLevy for your Google Plus Vanity URL…. How did you get this?… any advice?… I’m still locked to adding a extra characters to the suggested URL.

  15. February 7, 2014 at 3:49 pm

    Hey guys! Just found your post because I set up an author page (+MLBanner) and had the same issue of not being able to get that as my URL (without added characters). I automatically received a personal URL (+michaelbanner) on my personal page two days after the roll-out last year. From all that I read, the reason was glanced over by what “Alex” posted here on 1/1/14; it has to do with your G+ name or your G+ Page being verified by Google. That is when you as a person are verified (i.e. as an author on your own website or blog) or your page is verified (with your website of the same name), then Google will give you your personal URL. If you don’t have a personal website or blog, set up a profile on another site where you can add your G+ URL (the big long one). And then add a link on your G+ page back to that site. At some point the two will connect and Google should offer you the personal URL. At least that’s how it is supposed to work out. Good luck.

  16. Mike Holdcroft
    February 11, 2014 at 9:05 am

    Hey guys, i had this exact problem and found a work around, although it does cost a little cash to implement.
    If you have a website, for examples sake “www.gunmaster.com” and you add it to your google plus page.
    After you have added the snippet of code that google provides you with, to your website. You will then get your website address verified (this can take up to 2 days according to google, but in my experience only takes about 30 minutes max).
    Now, once you have done this, you will be asked to make a vanity url for your page.
    This is where the problem for everyone is coming up. Google will take your url and use that as your google name, BUT is then asking you to add additional characters and numbers.
    Example: http://www.google.com/+gunmaster7 is what you would have to make at the shortest, for example, with the addition of the 7.
    Now, here is the workaround, but also what will be the expense.
    • Delete the website address you have verified on your google plus page info.
    • Buy a shorter version of your domain name, example here being “www.gunmast.com
    • Add http://www.gunmast.com to your google plus page info and follow all the steps you previously took to variety the url.
    • You will now be asked again to create a vanity url, but this time it will take the name from your shorter domain name.
    • This will leave you with “www.google.com/+gunmast” and you will be asked to add additional letters and numbers.
    • Here you would simply add the letters E and R.
    This will leave you with the google plus username “www.google.com/+gunmaster”
    Then all you have to do is go back, delete the new domain name you added to do all of this work around. Add in your actual full length email and you are done!
    All it will cost you is a new .com and some time.
    I hope this helped!

    • March 11, 2014 at 12:28 am

      Ha ha, and I wondered if I was the only one who thought of this. I’m in the process of doing this myself to get my vanity URL. Fortunately it was only $4.99 to register the shorter domain. Did you do it, did it work??

    • fbat
      April 17, 2014 at 10:44 am

      My name is 8 characters long, and the .com and .net for the 5 character version were both taken. I regged a 5 character .info and when I get everything verified Google’s suggested vanity name is now nameINFO plus a few characters. Unreal.

  17. February 16, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    I found a very simple way to pick your Google+ URL. The process is very simple.You just have to change your real name (details in the link). Good luck all, http://blog.georgechalhoub.com/2014/02/how-to-fool-google-and-get-your-exact.html .

    • February 16, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      This is exactly what has already been written and discussed in the comments above, George…& without a link.

      • February 16, 2014 at 1:27 pm

        Dan, not sure why all the subterfuge. Rather than trying to “fool” Google, just do what they recommend. I was faced with the same situation you, and so many others, were. On a Google+ Page I created (for “mlbanner”), I was offered the opportunity of a personal URL (+mlbanner PLUS one or more characters of my choice), but I didn’t accept it. I searched for how to get my personal URL, which is how I found this post. But, here’s the thing I found, if you go through the verification process I mentioned in my post above on 2/7, you will be offered your personal Google URL. That’s it; no trickery needed. I did this very thing and on 2/13, I received http://www.google.com/+mlbanner as my reward for following their guidelines. If you or others are interested, I documented some of the details on my own blog: http://www.mlbanner.com/how-i-received-a-personal-google-url/. Sorry for the link, but it seemed easier than typing the whole thing out again. I hope this helps you and others.

      • February 16, 2014 at 1:32 pm

        I’ll take a look. Thanks Michael. I went with the subterfuge because it was the first way I found/heard of that worked.

    • April 17, 2014 at 4:49 am

      Thank you. It just works.

  18. jazz@vbaic.com
    February 17, 2014 at 8:06 am

    LOLOL, I got mine..https://www.google.com/+JazzSLoyal There is a way to get it… I was given the choice to added a suffix or none. But you have to do it a few times to get the option..

  19. Chris
    March 1, 2014 at 7:12 am

    @jazz Can you please explain how? Thanks

  20. March 4, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Tried everything and still can’t get the one I want… 😦 @jazz can you please explain what you did?

  21. March 13, 2014 at 9:25 am

    My web page is http://www.gorillatrekkingtrip.comamd i have been trying to get a google plus page in this same name but all i get are codes. Is it really possible to get a worded URL?

  22. April 10, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Love it, Dan gets his URL but doesn’t say how. Jazz up there says there’s a way to do it, but doesn’t say how. Thanks guys!

    • April 17, 2014 at 4:53 am

      You comment makes me laugh:)
      For the URL thing, you can try this method :http://blog.georgechalhoub.com/2014/02/how-to-fool-google-and-get-your-exact.html
      It works for me. I changed my last name from Meng to M (then changed it back), and fooled Google successfully. Good luck for you.

      • fbat
        April 17, 2014 at 10:18 am

        I tried the renaming trick, but it seems my my vanity name is linked to my URL. It’s a short name, 8 characters and the 5 character .net was gone, so I regged a 5 character .info. I set it all up, got it verified in analytics, webmaster tools, etc. and added it and verified it on my g+ page. Now the vanity name that Google is suggesting is, wait for it… nameINFO, and add a few characters.

        Can you believe this crap?

  23. April 16, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    arrrghhh so annoying

  24. April 17, 2014 at 4:41 pm


    Businesses and pages who need a URL won’t be able to change their names, instead they have to change their website, for example: if your linked website is http://www.waterlove.com you remove it from your Google+ page, you go to a domain registrar and pick a http://www.waterlo.com and link it back and verify it. After veryifying it, you pick your desired ursername. Later, you can relink your real website!

    The above worked for me.https://levynewsnetwork.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/google-custom-urls-roll-out/#comment-form-load-service:WordPress.com

    Thanks, George!

  25. April 29, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I have exactly the same problem. Tried some of the tips from above but still no luck. I hope google does something about this issue soon.

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