How to set up a Branded Short URL

short url

What is a Short URL

Literally, a short version of a webpage address or link.

Instead of sending someone to a link like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQw4w9WgXcQ 

You can send them to it using this : http://dgt.gl/VolumeUP

You’ll often see abbreviated links that redirect you to a longer web address, and it’s become much more popular as social networks such as Twitter limit people to a smaller number of characters.

Benefits of using Short URLs

  • Short URLs let you fit more descriptive text into a Twitter update, or text message.
  • They can be easier to remember.
  • They’re really handy in offline campaigns too, for example if you’re delivering a presentation, and want to direct people to further information. A shortened link will let you move on to the next slide rather than having to wait for your audience to scribble down their notes.
  • And you can track how many people use the link.

Commonly URL Shorteners

Some of the most popular URL shorteners include:

You can use most of them for free to convert a long URL into a short one, and they often give you statistics about your links.

How to set up a Branded Short URL for Social Media & Offline Campaigns

There are a few ways to set up a branded short URL, but here’s a relatively simple and almost free way of doing it.

  1. Buy a short version of your domain name.
    Consider different country codes to finish your brand name – I used a Greenland domain name for example, to end up with dgt.gl.
    This was down to trial and error, but you could use a domain search tool to help you find a nice one (see Grace’s list of tools on Mashable).
  2. Create a bitly account.
  3. Update the advanced settings in your bitly account with your domain name.
  4. Log in to your domain name admin panel
  5. Select the short domain you want to modify.

  6. Look for the section titled “DNS Records”, “Host records,” or similar (this will vary slightly depending on who you bought the domain from).
  7. In this section, look for the “A record” for your domain name and change the setting so that the IP address points to 69.58.188.49.
  8. If you have more than one A record, remove all others and leave only the one that you’ve just pointed to 69.58.188.49.
  9. Make yourself a cup of tea and check that it’s all working in 48 hours, by logging into your bitly account and adding a link that you’d like to shorten.

More detailed instructions here.

And you can link your new branded URL shortener to social media tools such as Buffer, so that you automatically publish and track links using your new mini domain.

Things to watch

Test that your links work, and be careful with redirects. They can slow the user experience down if there are two many (e.g. You redirect the link through your shortener, then Hootsuite redirects it through their shorter, then Twitter has a go).

Let me know what your experience has been.

Image from: WordPressTipsTricksandTweaks

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