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Stephanie Drenka


How to Create Your Own URL Shortener

How to Create Your Own URL Shortener

One of the coolest branding techniques, which is also relatively easy to implement, is the custom URL shortener. URL shortening is a technique to convert a long URL (site or page address) to a shorter version. When someone accesses the shortened address, the browser redirects to the original (large) url address. It is also called URL redirection or URL redirect.

According to Jakob Nielsen, “Shorter URLs are better since people often type them manually.” Most digital publications and prominent websites these days have their own branded URL shorteners, ie: http://on.mash.to for Mashable.com links. It’s a fun way to help increase brand awareness that adds a level of credibility or professionalism wherever you share links.

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Step 1 // Pick a Domain
Research domain options for your URL shortener. I used Domainr to find which combinations are available. After deciding on sdrenka.co, I purchased the domain through Godaddy.

Domainr Short URL

Step 2 // Sign up for a Bitly Account
If you don’t already have an account with bit.ly, sign up for one to use their free branded url shortening service. (Free accounts include one branded URL and 500 shortened links per month)

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Step 3 // Add Branded Domain to Bitly
In the advanced settings of your bitly account, configure the settings for the branded URL. They will provide DNS A records to update with your domain registrar (aka Godaddy) in the next step. Put your full website url (ie http://stephaniedrenka.com) in the “Redirect URL” field.

custom-url-shortener2

Step 4 // Update your DNS Settings
You’ll need to create two A records (@) so that Bitly can manage your domain redirection. Take the IP addresses from the previous step, and edit your DNS zone file to reflect the instructions.

Step 5 // Create Your First Custom Shortened URL
Generate a shortened link in your Bitly account. It will include your custom domain! Use this link for your tweets and Facebook shares to take advantage of Bitly’s click tracking feature, while maintaining a professional and cohesive brand.

bitly-branded-url-shortener

Bonus Tip: If you use CoSchedule to plan and share your content like I do, connect your Bitly account, and all your links will be shortened with your new URL!

Questions? Let me know in the comments, and I’d be happy to clarify any of the information in this post. Happy linking!

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