Lack of Available Google Profile Usernames & Custom URLs

I was not able to get myrealname@gmail.com. Yeah. I know. Cue the violins. It’s such a tragedy. It was probably because I didn’t get a beta invite to Gmail, and someone beat me to the punch. Whatever. I’m over it. Kind of. But I always knew that not getting my name as a Gmail username would come back to haunt me in more ways than one. So let’s talk about Google Profiles and custom URLs.

If you have a Google account, you are eligible to create a Google Profile. I have several Google profiles: a few for myself and many more for clients. Your Google Profile is associated with your email address, so you can have a Google Profile that associated with your Gmail address or some other email address. It does not have to be a gmail.com address. Let’s take a look at the 2 scenarios:

  1. Your profile is associated with a non-Gmail email address.
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL (non-Gmail Account)
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL (non-Gmail Account)

    If you have a Google account that is associated with a yahoo.com, hotmail.com or some other domain, you have an advantage: you can actually pick a custom URL for your Google Profile. You are actually presented a box where you can type in your custom URL. Just fill in the blank with your username: www.google.com/profiles/_________.

    That’s pretty cool, right? Well it is until you realize that pretty much every possible username is unavailable. This is because you cannot get a username that someone already has for their Gmail account. For example, let’s say some already has imabadass@gmail.com (and they do, btw). If that is true, then you will not be able to get google.com/profiles/imabadass for your custom URL. And because Google does not recycle email addresses, it doesn’t even have to be a current email address username. If that username has ever been used, you are outta luck.

    The bottom line: Using a non-Gmail email address will allow you the option of creating your own custom URL username. Good luck finding one that is available!

  2. Your profile is associated with Gmail address

    Google Profile URL: Custom URL for Your SEO Sucks!
    Google Profile URL: Custom URL for Your SEO Sucks!
  3. As you can see, with this option you are only given 2 choices. You can use your Gmail username, or you can use some string of predetermined numbers. Obviously, this is a great option if you have an awesome Google/Gmail username. If you take this route, email spammers will be able to easily deduce your Gmail address. If you don’t want your email address spammed to hell over, I recommend using the string of numbers. However, that is damn near impossible to brand (if that is your goal).

So there you have it. I wish you the best of luck with your Google profile custom URL. And don’t forget that it’s probably twice as bad over at Yahoo and MSN when you try to set up those profiles.

Link Building Idea: Buy Some Links on Google Profiles

Hey check this out. It’s Mashable’s Pete Cashmore and his Google profile (now with more Google Buzz):

Google Profile: Mashable's Pete Cashmore on Google Buzz
Google Profile: Mashable's Pete Cashmore on Google Buzz

It appears that Google has placed a nofollow on the links within Pete’s Google Buzz feed. However, the links in the right-side column are dofollow. How about that?! Holy crap! These are dofollow links from the domain google.com!

Because Pete is obviously a smart guy, he realizes the value of linking to his own properties. Hence, he has linked to Mashable.com and various Mashable properties on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

At the time of this screengrab, Pete had 9,647 followers, so it’s only a matter of time before this page has a high PageRank. This Google Profile will ultimately have a lot of authority, and those dofollow links in the right-side column will drive some serious link juice. And remember: these are links from google.com!

Now, let’s be realistic. Despite the current dofollow status, I’m sure Google has discounted these links in some way or another. But the fact remains that these are dofollow links coming from google.com. Furthermore, check out the bottom of Google.com’s robots.txt file:

  • Allow: /profiles
  • Sitemap: http://www.gstatic.com/s2/sitemaps/profiles-sitemap.xml

When you read the XML sitemap file, you see several hundred txt files of Google profiles, such as this one. Inside each one of these txt files, there are 5,000 user profile URLs. The take home message: Google wants these profiles crawled, and they are actively making it easier for all spiders to find them. Google Profiles are obviously important in Google’s venture into social media and social search.

What about the buying links idea?

Well this should be fairly obvious. Google is allowing dofollow links on Google Profile pages. While it may be tough to get links from reputable profiles, there are many users who may be open to the idea of selling links. And some of these profile pages will end up with high PageRank, especially when people begin to link to their Google profiles. These are links from the google.com domain. Even if Google moves to disallow these links, there is still value from these links. Why not offer the profile owner(s) some money for a link in the right-side column?

Here’s a simple plan of action to acquire links from Google Profile users:

  • Google profiles have custom URLs
  • These URLs take one of two possible formats:
    1) google.com/profiles/101849747879612982297
    2) google.com/profiles/mashable
  • If you can find the username at the end of the URL, then you will know the gmail address of the profile user.
  • And that is how you can contact them.
  • Then it all comes down to your ability to not creep people out by offering them money for a link to your network of phentermine and poker websites [cuz those 2 things always go together, right?]

There it is. I hope you enjoyed that. Stay tuned for more. And stay tuned for a nofollow attribute from Google. I’m sure it’s right around the corner.

Happy Link Building!

[Full Disclosure: Neither Mashable or Pete Cashmore compensated me for the free brand exposure to my 10’s of readers. I’m just a fan, and I think everyone should be a fan of Mashable. #teammashable]

Update: Feb. 17, 2010: Nofollow attributes added to Google Profiles

It seems Google is onto us. Google has added the nofollow attribute to all links in the rightside column of Google Profiles. I wanted to see if they nofollow’d links to Google Profiles, so on my Google Profile I added a link to my Google Profile. No luck. It’s nofollow’d, too. Damn. Nice work, Google. Until we meet again…