What is a Vanity Link?
A vanity link (or vanity URL) is a unique web address that is branded for marketing purposes. Basically, its sole purpose in our Georgia State setup is to give site administrators another, cleaner URL to use in order to give site-users a smaller and more memorable address for specific subpages that they may want to advertise (such as upcoming events or anniversaries).
A note about Vanity Links... The Georgia State instance of WordPress multi-site runs in a sub-domain configuration. In this mode, each website is given a unique URL, which is structured with the sub-domain name proceeding the root domain of gsu.edu. You can see this when you go to the admissions website. The URL for admissions is https://admissions.gsu.edu. Did you know that https://gsu.edu/admissions also gets you there? What's important to know is that it's not automatic. WordPress is aware of all of the various blogs on the network, but it doesn't automatically create the URL forwards or vanity links from gsu.edu. Since the sub-domain site configuration method is actually related to a networking convention we don't ever recommend treating sub-domain URLs as vanity links.
Why we don't allow subdomains as vanity links
A big reason for not using vanity sub-domain links is that all subdomain links have to be registered and exist as independent URL records. This means all of these records are hosted back at GSU and require a lookup. These links may not see the constant level of traffic gsu.edu sees and services may need to "refresh" the sub-domains location causing additional load delay. Depending on the time to live variables set by different internet service providers, users can hit a snag. This is avoided when the site uses the sub-domain method and actually has content. We register the sites with the various web management platforms and they are constantly crawled by indexing bots to keep their records current.
How we set up vanity links at Georgia State
Our recommended method for setting up vanity links is to submit a ticket and have the team create a gsu.edu/link. Here we can capture performance data and manage the links without adding to the overhead of registering additional domains. There are costs associated with managing subdomains as well as a more complex method of troubleshooting should something go wrong.
All of the Georgia State WordPress sites can host their own vanity links too, using the Yoast > SEO > Redirects tool. In this method, simply go into the Yoast Redirects tool and set up the shortened and clearer URL that you want as your vanity link, and then tell the tool where you want it to redirect users.
If you have questions about this process or would like to learn more, drop us a note through Uservoice's ticketing system (https://gsu.uservoice.com). If you have a link that you would like to be added to gsu.edu drop us a ticket on Uservoice too.