Google+ is the best social network for grown-ups, but Google still doesn't get it when it comes to letting people go by the names they want.
The good news is that Google will soon let you use human readable names for your Google+ account. In the next few weeks you can follow me at http://google.com/sjvn01 instead of https://google.com/113169713749496726739/posts. The bad news is that Google is limiting who can use such names.
Saurabh Sharma, a Google project manager, wrote, “We’re introducing custom URLs to make it even easier for people to find your profile on Google+. A custom URL is a short, easy to remember web address that links directly to your profile or page on Google+."
Sharma then cites such examples as “ Whether you're a clothing brand showing off your latest fashions (google.com/+hugoboss), an athlete talking about the game (google.com/+davidbeckham), or an actor recalling a favorite role (google.com/+hughjackman), your Google+ profile helps you connect with the people who share your interests.”
He continues, “ For instance, +TOYOTA can now use google.com/+toyota to unveil their latest models, +Britney Spears can share her upcoming appearances at google.com/+britneyspears, +Ubisoft can share game trailers and videos at google.com/+assassinscreed, and +Delta can help travellers find great deals at google.com/+delta.”
Google+: The Gallery
Notice a pattern here? These are all, even the people, business brands. That's great if you want to advertise your latest song, movie, products or services, it's not so great if you just want a more attractive URL.
There's another pattern here as well. Look at those custom Google+ URLs closely. Notice something? They're not Google+ URLs, they are Google URLs. Google CEO Larry Page recently said, “Google Plus is truly at the heart of our efforts to create our social spine. With over 120 Google Plus integrations to date, we're on the right track. Your user experience on Google just gets better. You can see friends' recommendations when you're using Google play and you don't think about that as Google Plus but it just comes from that infrastructure.”
This new name policy may be proof that Page meant what he said. In other words, Google+ is not Google's answer to Facebook and Twitter. It's the spine, the neural network of the next generation of Google. With this move Google is showing that it's continuing to integrate the personal with the global into its search and other services.
That said, we don't know when, or even if, most people will be able to use this custom name integration. Sharma concluded, “Custom URLs will also be available to people and pages worldwide, so brands like Globo can point readers to google.com/+epoca, or any of their other Brazilian publications. At first, we’re introducing custom URLs to a limited number of verified profiles and pages. But over time we plan to offer custom URLs to many more brands and individuals, so please stay tuned!”
If you can't wait though to have a people friendly Google+ Web address, you may not have to. As I explained last year, you may already have such a name. This is your Google Profile URL: https://profiles.google.com/username/ . This user name is your Gmail name. So, for example, https://profiles.google.com/sjvn01, will bring you right to my G+ page. This, however, will not work with Google Apps accounts nor does it seem to work with all other accounts.
If it does work for you though it will take visitors to your G+ page just as quickly as the new-fangled Google, no plus, Web addresses will.
Google Plus gets a new look and feel (Review)
CNET: YouTube gently prods users to go by their real names
Star Trek's Wil Wheaton thinks Google+ is becoming an annoying mistake
Five Things to love about Google+
Getting a user-friendly Web address on Google Plus