Have you seen notable media agencies or companies use unique shortened URLs that still remind you of their brands? Here are some examples.
- New York Times: nyti.ms/
- Wall Street Journal: wsj.com/
- Time Magazine: ti.me/
- The Economist: econ.st/
- Tofurious (mine): tofr.us/
This post will teach you how to create your own custom vanity URL shortener. Here are three reasons why you should do so.
- Reduce Characters Used –
Facebook and Twitter has limited characters for a post. Using your full URL would take up unnecessary space.
- Promote Consistent Branding –
Rather than using a generic URL shortener, your own name would maintain top of mind awareness (TOMA).
- Track Number of Clicks –
Using a custom URL shortener program allows you to track the number of clicks.
The process is free, except for the purchase of your desired URL. You can use GoDaddy.com, Register.com or a number of other services. The cost of a URL is roughly $10 per year. Skip lunch today and you will be set.
There are a number of third-party providers that can help, but I prefer using bit.ly. You might be familiar with their links on social media. It’s very popular. They have instructions on their site, but they are text-based. I will include screenshots.
Step 1: Register URL and Bitly Account
Register for a desirable shortened URL. It should represent your brand all while reduce the number of characters used.
Picking the vanity URL can be difficult, but a trick is to omit the vowels. If you need some ideas, this page lists many companies’ custom URLs.
This tutorial is for using bit.ly, so you will need to register for an account. It’s free and requires an email for login. You will need this for tracking the number of clicks and so forth.
Step 2: Login to Your Domain Registrar Website
This part might look slightly different because of the different domain name registrar websites. I, personally, use GoDaddy, but everything should be fairly consistent.
Launch your URL details page. Select DNS Zone File. It can also be titled something along the lines of “DNS Configuration,” “DNS Records”, “Advanced DNS,” “Total DNS” or “Host Records.”
DNS is Domain Name Server, which allows you to point your URL to a host / server. In this case, you will point your new vanity URL to bit.ly.
Step 3: Edit DNS Settings
Select the edit button. You will need to make two changes. First, change the A (Host) @ Record to 126.96.36.199 as specified on bit.ly’s website.
Next, change the www entry to cname.bitly.com.
Advanced Bitly Settings
Depending on your DNS, it can take minutes to 48 hours for your URL to work. You can go through the process of verifying your URL on bit.ly’s website. To do so, you have to select Settings, Advanced and follow the instructions there.
However, one last step I want to include is a simple redirect of your shortened URL to your domain name. In this case, I have a redirect for tofr.us to tofurious.com.
There are many other great features that I beseech you to explore. Once this becomes part of your routine, it’ll be fun following stats! How else will you know the effectiveness of your online efforts?
If you enjoyed this, share! If you did not see my Facebook post, comment below which coffee most represents you :)
P.S. Some kind words from Gary who attended the Infocus Video Event where I spoke about being found online on search engines (SEO).
P.P.S. I’m an iced espresso. Which one are you?