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November 17, 2019

Vanity URLs and SEO: Like Peanut Butter and Jelly

When you are creating a website or landing page for your business, you must always consider site structure. This is all about how each of your pages are connected. It can be difficult to determine if you should use sub-directories, sub-domains, or multiple domains.

Site structure is a huge factor in your SEO ranking. You want to choose a site structure and domain name that helps your SEO ranking. It should also be easy to share, simple, and well branded. This is where vanity URLs come in.

Site Structure Challenges

When creating a site, one of the simplest formats looks like this:

One of the challenges you will face when structuring a site is that many of your pages will likely share the same keywords or phrases. That means, when it comes to SEO, these pages compete with each other. It’s called “self-cannibalization” and it makes your SEO efforts go flat.


One solution is to structure your website using sub-pages for your different service/product offerings. Each will target different keywords so one page isn’t competing against the other. This is a structure that will rank organically but it’s not always great for sharing with humans.

Often, subpages are long URLs built off of your main one. People have little hope of remembering them, let alone typing them in and sending to friends or family. Therefore, you must find a way to create short links to your subpages, so everyone is happy. Both your customers and the search engines.

This is where Vanity URLs become your hero.

How Vanity URLs Assist with SEO Efforts

Vanity URLs are appealing looking links. Thus, the name. They use your brand name or message to redirect people to a less attractive URL (or one they can’t easily remember). This is typically done using what’s called a 301 redirect.

The top level domain (TLD) is your homepage and usually ends in .com or .net. The vanity URL replaces this with a branded word of your choosing. This looks neat and tidy and is much more relevant to your industry and business. You can even create a number of vanity links which are then used for different purposes within a campaign.

There is a common misconception that this type of redirecting can hurt your SEO. However, vanity links are just that…vanity. They are not cataloged by Google and not intended to rank organically. Therefore, there is no issue with using a vanity URL.

Vanity links help with your SEO because people are apt to share them. Thus, they get much more exposure and even build credibility. There’s never a reason to compromise a good site structure over creating an easy link to share. You can have both.

Using Your Vanity URL

Once you have created a sufficient amount of branded short links, you should think about how they would be most effective. The following are some examples of where posting a Vanity URL can help with SEO and engagement:

Social Media

Using your vanity link in posts and ads on social channels can increase your click-through-rate by 39%. It keeps your brand name front and center and motivates people to share.

Promotional Materials

It can be hard to gauge the return on offline marketing content like posters, flyers, brochures, mailers, even product packaging. Using a vanity URL in these cases helps track how many people it draws to your site. It can refine your marketing efforts and demonstrate where your best ROI lies.

SMS and Email Marketing

Vanity links work great for short text messages and emails. The popularity of these campaigns has increased in recent years partly due to the use of vanity links. They work great in these campaigns because they increase your exposure, brand awareness, and audience participation.

It’s almost as good as peanut butter and jelly!

How do you intend to use your vanity URLs? Comment below and let’s brainstorm!



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