A Quick & Easy
You probably heard of bit.ly as one of the most popular URL shorteners and you’ve probably used it some. But wouldn’t it be cool if you had your own custom URL shortener?
Something like http://askkim.net/jak-blog
There are two ways to accomplish this:
One is with a self hosted plugin for your WordPress.org based blog called Pretty Link (and Pretty Link Pro). This lets you make short links right on your primary website URL.
The other is accessible and free even if you don’t have WordPress and uses Bit.ly to power it. This uses a URL you have purchased that you aren’t using for other projects.
We’ve talked about Pretty Link rather extensively before so today we’re going to quickly and easily set up a Bit.ly hosted URL shortner.
It’s easy to set up and I will show you how to do it in just a couple minutes!
Setting Up Bit.ly With A Custom Domain URL
First, you will need a domain name you will use as a shortener. This must be a domain name that you are not using for anything else and is not your actual website URL. I used the askkim.net URL because it’s considerably shorter than my primary URL. You can use anything, just make sure it is not some long domain name.
So think of variations you can use, your blog name shortened, etc. You have lots of flexibility so be creative – but keep it short!
When you get the domain name, go to bit.ly and log in. Go to Settings and then Advanced.
Once there, choose the link in this option at the top of the page:
You can select either personal (which has no advanced analytics and other fancy brand stuff) or personal.
Click on the link and in the next window you will be able to add the URL you want to use as your custom shortener.
When you add it, hit the button and bit.ly will give you a number you need to put in your domain name DNS record, instead of the one you already have there. It won’t be hard, when you look at your domain info, there is only one number that looks similar – replace it with the one bit.ly gave you. Save changes.
Here’s what it looks like for me on Namecheap domain registrar:
Go back to bit.ly and click Verify so they can see if it is working. DNS changes can take anywhere from minutes to a full day. Namecheap says theirs takes about 45 minutes and it took me about 30 so that’s probably about right. Yours may be faster or slower.
When you are done, make sure your new URL is set up as a default like mine is in the image above.
Shorten your links now, you are done!
If you notice that certain URL post-fixes are already taken, here’s why.
Why would you do this?
Well besides the links being pretty, they can help you in branding. People notice small things like these, I know I notice every time someone has a custom URL. So why not, it will only cost you the domain name, and if you have some, it may not cost you anything.
I use Pretty Link Pro as my primary URL system to help me keep track and manage a lot of commercial affiliate links – but the Bit.ly system gives me the ability to tie into third party apps like Po.st and others that are bit.ly integrated.
The bit.ly service is free for this so why not use it :)
Do you already have a custom URL shortener?
~ Kim ~
PS: One of the primary questions I get asked about short links is whether they can hurt SEO and here’s what Google has to say about shortlinks.
This post originally published by Brankica on June 15th, 2012. Revised & updated by Kim on August 31st, 2014.