Vanity URL: what is it and why do you need one? - Housecall Pro
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Vanity URL: what is it and why do you need one?

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In today’s digital world, a strong online presence is more important than ever. Are you a technician, a business owner, or work in the skilled trades looking to level up your marketing game with an online presence? Do you need a way to unify all of your digital outlets under one umbrella? Keep reading!

When most hear “vanity URL,” they think it’s just a way to spiff up your website. It’s a way bigger deal than that! Let’s take an in-depth look at the key benefits of creating a vanity URL. 

(Spoiler: It includes everything from streamlining marketing campaigns to making technical changes that can help boost your search engine ranking.)

What is a vanity URL?

We’ll start with the basics. What in the world is it? A vanity URL is a customized web address used for marketing purposes that typically redirects to an existing, generic web address. For example, a long address like plumbingsite.com/services/water-treatment-services/ is hard for customers to remember and share. But, a shorter version like plumbingsite.com/treatment across your marketing materials can quickly be shared in ads, videos, and billboards to drive people to your water treatment services page. 

Benefit 1: It’s easy to remember and share

Having a vanity URL helps create an identity for your business and makes it easier for customers to find you online. They don’t have to be clever, just simple. 

You could buy additional domains to redirect to your site. This would be useful if you have a long or hard to spell company name. So a company named “Brown’s Heating Air and Restoration Services” may have a domain like www.brownshvacandrestoration.com. Ouch. That’s long and hard to remember. So Mr. Brown could add domains, like www.brownshvac.com or www.brownsrestorations.com. He could then redirect them to the right page on the live site. That would send additional signals to Google about the subject matter the company focuses on.

Plus, for Mr. Brown, having unique domains to share in different places can help him understand where is marketing dollars are working best. In our third benefit, we explain how redirects and tracking parameters can help you optimize your spending for the right audience.

People can remember simple URLs. The same is true with slogans and jingles. It’s how the mind works! Finish these:

  • “The best part of waking up…” 
  • “Give me a break. Give me a break…” 
  • “You’re in good hands with…”
  • “The quicker picker…”
  • “Like a good neighbor…”

When picking your vanity domains, remember to keep them simple. People will remember the URL, search for you, and Google will see that and give you a boost. You want more clicks, right?

Benefit 2: Get more clicks

Vanity URLs containing your business’s target keywords can also impact your site’s organic visibility (think SEO). If more people search using your brand name and vanity phrase, it’s more likely that Google will recognize this relationship and apply it to the results of more searchers. So pick your vanity URLs wisely! Make sure it’s easy enough to remember and target search keywords are there in the URL.

A vanity URL also allows you to promote yourself more effectively by creating links with keywords related to your business. This can help increase your search engine rankings and visibility online. For example, “expert plumbers” and “Carlsbad” would give Google additional insight that this plumbing company is popular in Carlsbad. This insight can ultimately lead to improved visibility on searches by potential customers because Google sees user demand and actions as “trust,” which is a positive signal in the algorithm.

Benefit 3: A vanity URL shows what works and what doesn’t

Service businesses looking to increase their marketing reach may want to use vanity URLs to test the performance of their campaigns. They give you the ability to easily track the performance of marketing campaigns. If you share billboards or flyers, then using unique vanity URLs will let you know which marketing effort is most effective. 

For example, if you leave door hangers in a neighborhood you recently serviced, a vanity URL listed can help you track clicks. Did it work or not? Use something like expertplumbers.com/carlsbad and check out how many people hit that URL. Or, if you run multiple marketing campaigns, you could redirect them to the homepage with tracking codes (often called parameters) that give you specifics about campaign performance around messaging and timing. 

You want to spend money on what works! 

How to choose the right vanity URL 

Choosing the right vanity URL for your business is a big deal. Don’t take it lightly! Here are a few tips for choosing the best one: 

Get specific

Make sure the vanity URL reflects your product offering.  Don’t use something vague. If you’re a plumber /water/ isn’t as descriptive for both Google and your customers as /faucets/. (What you service is more specific than your industry.)

Examples of specific vanity URLs:

  • www.plumbingcompany.com/emergency/
  • www.hvaccompany.com/maintenance/
  • www.locksmith.com/roadside/

Work in keywords

Use keywords related to what you offer in the domain name. This will help search engine rankings and make it easier for potential customers to find you online.   

Examples of keyword-rich vanity URLs:

  • www.generalcontractors.com/remodels/
  • www.poolcleanercompany.com/installations/
  • www.homecleaning.com/holidayprep/

Keep it short and sweet

The shorter and sweeter, the easier to remember. Avoid capitalized letters, hyphens, and underscores in the domain name. 

Examples of succinct vanity URLs:

  • www.lawncarecompany.com/getgrowing/
  • www.electricalcompany.com/newbuild/
  • www.appliancerepair.com/vacuums/

Check for errors

Double-check all spelling before committing and confirm that your URL doesn’t accidentally spell something else. There’s nothing like missing all your traffic due to a typo!

How to set up a vanity URL for your website   

Setting up a custom vanity URL for your website is pretty straightforward, but it does require some technical knowledge. If in doubt, get professional help from your site’s web developer. They can set everything up correctly.

The first step is to have a website. Make sure your developer has taken some basic steps to secure the site. You can host with a specific provider, or you can sign up for WordPress, Shopify, or another out-of-the-box solution. They’re pre-built and tend to have built-in features that support SEO and vanity URL creation.

If you go with a company like WordPress, you’ll find plugins available – like Yoast or AIO SEO. They allow you to quickly set up redirects. Here is where you will enter the vanity URL slug. That’s the end part of your URL after your domain name. You can identify the live page you want it to redirect to. At Housecall Pro, we use AIO SEO to create vanity URLs. You can see in the screenshot below. It’s super easy to do:

  1. The Source URL is the vanity URL without the domain in it
  2. The Target URL is the place we want it to go
  3. The Redirect Type for vanity URLs is always “301 Moved Permanently” so that we don’t accidentally create duplicate content in Google’s eyes

If we wanted to make it easier for pros to find our SEO blog posts, we may create a vanity URL like www.housecallpro.com/seo/ that would redirect to a page with all our SEO-related content in one place. That vanity URL could then be shared in graphics for social media, bio links, and on printed materials we share for download. If we wanted that vanity URL to support our marketing efforts, we would enter it in the system kind of like this:

Summary

Vanity URLs may be the key to your company’s next big growth cycle! Give it a shot with your next marketing campaign. Remember the steps above and you’ll see the benefits of improved online branding and increased website traffic. For more information on how you can use a vanity URL as part of an effective sales funnel marketing strategy, be sure to download our free ebook below. 


Housecall Pro Author

Jenn Bergner

Contributor
Last Posted April, 2023