In the spirit of today’s subject, this post is going to be direct :)
What exactly are link shorteners?
A link shortener abbreviates any URL into a link with minimal characters.
Why do I want to use them?
Because URLs can get miles long, and readability of a post or message is notably improved by minimizing a link’s endless string of characters.
Shorteners are also handy when there is limited character spaces in profiles or bios.
Commonly used shorteners are bit.ly and owl.ly.
How do you possibly glam up a URL?
By custom branding a shortened link.
For example, if your shop is called Extremely Awesome, you can create a custom shortened link that reads as ExtrmlyAwe.shop (versus extremelyawesomeshop.com). So tweets, posts, or profile links to a t-shirt page you want to feature, can have ExtrmlyAwe.shop/tees as the direct link. Folks will always know it’s your company, and your content they will be linking to. It is also ideally descriptive, yet brief.
Another way to effectively glam up your URL is by helping folks better know what you’re all about. For example, if you are a dog trainer, you can customize a shortened link by using puppy.expert to link to your site, and share shortened links looking like puppy.expert/services or puppy.expert/tips.
So why is this good for branding?
Link shorteners are wonderful for brand recognition, and help you visually and consistently tell your story.
Also, when readers see a standard shortened link, it can lead anywhere on the interwebs. When using a branded shortened link, folks know it’s your content, your site, and there is a level of reassurance and trust in that.
These are so awesome, why doesn’t everyone use them?
I’ve been contemplating custom branded shortlinks for my own business this past decade, but unfortunately, the cost has always been simply too high or the process too complex.
Custom branded links have traditionally been within the operating budgets of larger companies.
However, while creating a customized seed; landing page (for when folks click over from my social profiles), I needed the pagelink shortened (seeddesignconsultancy.com is a really long URL).
Through research, I stumbled on a new (to me) service and learned how to implement a custom shortened URL.
I’m in … how do I do this?
Register a custom domain for your brand. Although I prefer buying domains from Google or through Squarespace, I found GoDaddy ideal for this specific project.
Get creative with alternatives to .com. You will have a larger variety of custom domain options, and you can use the second.part of the URL (after the dot) to help dimensionalize your business. For example, for Seed Design Consultancy, I chose SeedLLC.studio. It cost me $20 for the first year to purchase the domain.
Set up a Rebrandly.com account.
And in even better budget news, most folks will be able to stay on the free subscription option.
The free account option includes being able to shorten up to 5 custom domains, and you can create up to 500 links. Rebrandly limits tracking link clicks to 5,000 per month.
Once you have a Rebrandly account, you will be given DNS settings to point your domain from GoDaddy. You are supplied two A records, and are able to input them from your GoDaddy dashboard / DNS settings.
To translate for those unfamiliar with DNS, an A record is basically the server address you will be pointing the domain you purchased to. It will connect your domain from GoDaddy to Rebrandly, and when you create a custom link on Rebrandly, your branded domain will be in a dropdown menu of the link builder when you create short links on Rebrandly.
Redirecting to Rebrandly took about 3 minutes before I was up an running with creating links.
Light DNS knowledge is required, but I found the interface extremely straightforward, and should be achievable for those even just slightly familiar with the concept of DNS.
Shorten to your heart’s content on Rebrandly. Seriously. That is all it takes.
How did it turn out for me?
I am currently using SeedLLC.studio links in my social media profiles, but plan on using them in shares from Fresh News, and other key links going forward.
The custom shortened link for the new landing page when folks visit from Design Seeds social profiles, is SeedLLC.studio/explore. For folks visiting from @seed_llc, the custom link is SeedLLC.studio/visit.
There are some more advanced concepts I glossed over in today’s post, but most who manage social on a consistent basis can easily tackle setting this up.
I also didn’t outlink to GoDaddy and Rebrandly in this post, as in today’s affiliate blogging world (which I really am not a fan of), I wanted to ensure there are no ulterior motives. This is legit. Copy, paste, and Google your way from this post to creating your own gorgeous links.
And for small businesses, or folks where this is out of your comfort zone, it is a modestly priced service to outsource (you should not be charged for over an hour’s work to have it set up). It is a small ticket item, that offers notable brand impact.
Wishing you all happy linking…