Vanity URLs help people remember your brand and find your landing pages organically. Just make sure your vanity URLs are set up using these guidelines.
Most digital publishers know about the importance of landing pages, but few understand the full benefit of using vanity URLs for the most popular pages on their websites.
A vanity URL can also be known as a custom short URL or a branded link. It’s a custom web address that’s branded specifically for marketing purposes. Ideally, it should help readers remember a specific landing page and find that page again in the future, without relying on Google search or bookmarks.
Many digital publishers will set up landing pages for their subscription forms and popular topics or sections, like sports, news, and entertainment. Business directories and online calendars will often be setup as individual landing pages with vanity URLs, as well.
Some good examples of vanity URLs would be:
A vanity URL is much easier to remember than something like: https://xyzmagazine.com/pages/landing/subscrube?utm_content=site-subscribe-button&utm_source=twitter-blog&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=blog-subscribe
Vanity URLs contain a domain name that includes the publication or a relevant keyword. They can be used in any number of places, including:
- Social Media Posts
- Email Newsletters
- Online Marketing Materials
- Offline Marketing Materials
A vanity URL is somewhat different from a vanity domain, but the two can both be relevant for digital publishers. A vanity domain is a custom domain that can be used to promote your website on social media and elsewhere online. Using the example above, a custom domain might be something like www.subscribetoxyzmagazine.com.
Custom domains should be catchy and easy to remember. However, setting up a custom domain does require a few extra steps, and having a custom domain is not usually necessary for promoting a specific landing page. For that, a vanity URL should be just fine.
Benefits of Vanity URLs
Why should you use a vanity URL on your most important landing page? First and foremost, it comes down to user memory. The easier it is for people to remember the URL for a landing page, the more frequently they’re going to visit that page. That means readers who are specifically interested in sports or weather information can type an address like www.xyzmagazine.com/sports or www.xyzmagazine.com/weather into their browser bar to visit that page directly.
If tracking is important to you (and it should be) then vanity URLs can make that easier, as well. With Google Analytics, you can add different parameters to the URL to track where visitors are coming from and what they are doing on your website once they arrive. Parameters can track at a macro level. By creating a vanity URL for the landing page you want to track, you’re making it easier for readers to type the URL into their browser bar without losing the tracking information you’ve added.
Three benefits of using vanity or custom URLs are:
- Better experience for readers
- Easy to share
- People know exactly where you’re sending them
What About SEO?
The effect that custom URLs have on search ranking is frequently debated. Creating customized URLs for specific landing pages can benefit SEO — as long as it’s done in the right way. That means following these guidelines.
- Use a 301 redirect. Get as creative as you want, but always make sure you’re directing readers back to the main landing page URL for tracking and SEO purposes. A 301 redirect ensures that bots and search engines can still interpret what’s going on, and the so-called “link juice” remains intact.
- Choose relevant keywords. This should go without saying, but the vanity URL you pick should be relevant to the content on that landing page.
- Consider using a TLD. A TLP (top level domain) is another way to make your links more memorable. Instead of using a URL like www.xyzmagazine.com/sports, consider www.xyzmagazine.sports. When someone searches for “sports” in your community, they’ll see your sports landing page first.
The most important point here is convenience. By creating a custom URL for a landing page, you’re trying to make it more convenient for readers to type your website URL into their browser. If the URL you’ve created is too lengthy or otherwise unrelated to the landing page content, that’s not going to be convenient or useful.
To learn more about growing your publication organically, contact the digital publishing specialists at Web Publisher PRO.