Add a Custom URL Shortener (aka shortlink) to your site

Add a Custom URL Shortener (aka shortlink) to your site

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Custom URL Shortener

Adding a custom url shortener to with your own branded domain name is a lot easier than you might think.

Why would you need a custom url shortener (aka “shortlink”?)

Twitter and other social media channels have a strict character limit. As a general rule, you don’t want your link to take up half of your status update. Many companies have also used this as an opportunity for branding.

Examples: amzn.to, nyti.ms, tgt.bz

Custom short domain name

You may already own a domain name for your site that is something like yourbusinessname.com, but you might also want a shortened version so to be able to brand your shortlinks.

Domai.nr is an excellent way to search for a short version of your branded domain. For example, I have bossa.co for my bossanovainteractive.com short links.

Bit.ly – a free URL shortening service

Let’s say I want to shorten the link to this article, which is:

http://bossanovainteractive.com/social-media/custom-url-shortener/

I could go to a service like Bit.ly and do this for free:

Example: http://bit.ly/1szrGgh

And if I wanted to get the stats on how many times people had clicked on that link, I could simply append a “+” (plus sign) to the end of the link like this:

Example: http://bit.ly/1szrGgh+

Pretty handy! And I didn’t even need to sign up to do that.

Bit.ly does let you bring your own custom domain name to their service, but unless you have an enterprise level account (think hundreds of dollars per month,) then you will end up with this:

Example: http://yourdomain.com/1szrGgh

YOURLS – DIY URL shortener

You can install and configure this on your web hosting account if you’re comfortable with setting up a new MySQL database and editing a couple of files. Otherwise, you’ll need support from a developer to install.

YOURLS works pretty well for your own internal, private URL shortener. I’ve had mixed experiences trying to turn it into a public URL shortener (issues with relentless spammers mainly) so I would only recommend this if you are using it as a private installation.

The best benefit here is that you get the custom domain name and the ability to make custom URLs as well.

Example: http://yourdomainname.com/whateveryouwant

Pretty Link Pro WordPress Plugin

This is probably the easiest solution of the entire bunch if you’re running a self-hosted WordPress installation.

Pretty Link Pro allows you to easily configure internal and external links with your custom domain name.

The plugin lets you create a custom link that is added to your domain name, so you end up with:

Example: http://yourdomainname.com/whateveryouwant

And that custom URL can point to any long URL even if it isn’t on your site.

If you’ve got a primary (long) and a secondary (short) domain name, you can park/forward the short domain name to your primary domain name via your web hosting account or domain name provider account.

For example:

http://bossa.co (secondary) is parked and forwarded to http://bossanovainteractive.com (primary.)

So with Pretty Link Pro, and having my short url redirect to my primary domain name, I’m able to convert:

http://bossanovainteractive.com/social-media/custom-url-shortener/

to

http://bossanovainteractive.com/custom

and

http://bossa.co/custom

Have you used a URL shortener for your business?

Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below.

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