HOW TO: Create Your Own Customized Short URL
The Better Profiles Series is supported by Gillette. Learn more about Gillette and its products at Gillette.com .
While the rest of us were copy-and-pasting mumbo-jumbo from URL shorteners into our Twitter accounts, sites like The New York Times were smugly tweeting their links using shortened URLs like “nyti.ms.” Frankly, this made us a little jealous.
But now, Bitly makes it easy for the average Joe Blogger to create a custom short URL for free. You don’t even need to own a site that gets about 17 million unique visitors per month.
A custom shortened link is great for building a personal or business brand, as readers know exactly where it will lead when they see it shared on social networks. With these four easy steps, you can customize short links for your site and share branded URLs across the web using Bitly .
1. Buy a URL — Make it Short
There are a number of services you can use to find an available URL, but the most convenient for finding a short URL is Domainr. If you type in the word you want to include in your short URL, this site will provide the different ways you might assemble it with a variety of domains. It also lets you know which of these options is available for purchase.
Your URL will need to be fewer than 15 characters in order to work with Bitly. Once you’ve picked one out, purchase it using a site like GoDaddy.com or Domain.com .
2. Create a Bit.ly Account and Set Your Custom Short Domain
If you don’t already have one, it is free to sign up for a Bitly account. With the account, you’ll be able to set up your customized short URL and view statistics on the customized short links that you create. You’ll need to verify your e-mail address before you can create a custom short domain.
Sign into Bitly, and select ‘Settings’ from the pull-down menu at the upper-right corner of the page. Click on the ‘Advanced’ tab, and select either ‘Personal’ or ‘Business’ under the ‘Custom Short Domain’ header. Enter your short domain; you’ll have to set an A Record for your short domain before you can verify it (see Step 3).
3. Set an A Record for Your Short URL to Point to Bitly
Log into your domain name registrar and set the A record. or DNS host, for your short URL to point to bit.ly’s IP address (at GoDaddy, the A record is located under the “DNS” tab in the Domain Manager). Bitly’s IP address is 18.104.22.168. It can take up to 48 hours for domain changes to take effect.
4. Verify Your Tracking Domain
To track all the click traffic to your site, set up your tracking domain under the ‘Advanced’ tab in your settings. Enter the domain name you want to track (your site’s long domain) in your Bitly account. This domain should not be the same as the short URL that you just set up. After you verify that you own the URL (there are three ways to provide verification), Bitly will automatically convert any links you shorten from that site to your custom short URL.
Share Your Custom Links
Once all of your virtual wires are connected, any URLs from your long domain will be custom-shortened, provided that you are logged into your Bit.ly account. This set up will not customize links to your site that others are sharing. That functionality, as seen with The New York Times. is only available at an enterprise-level Bit.ly partnership. When you reach those 17 million uniques per month, let us know, and we’ll show you how to get that rolling.
Series Supported by Gillette
The Better Profile Series is supported by Gillette. Learn more about Gillette and its products at Gillette.com .