5 Easy Steps to Polish-Up Your Short Links
If you are in the business of Social Media or Online Marketing and you are not advising your clients to use branded short links – you really need to read this NOW! No technical knowledge is required – we'll do all the techie stuff for you.
URL Shortening, or Click-Tracking, is a vital part of all online marketing. If you're not doing it, you really must. Its as important as having Google Analytics on your web site. It means you can track how many clicks you are getting and from which location or promotion.
However, all too often people are unaware that they can brand their short links for no extra charge. We look at a couple of the market leaders in this field, Bit.ly and Rebrandly, and show you how easy it is to brand your short links with one of our keyword domain names.
Because we have built-in support for a number of the most popular domain shortening services, it has never been easier to brand your short links.
Once you have selected what Keyword Domain you want, then if you have your credit card to hand, it can literally take less than 10 minutes to get your first branded short link working.
1 … Choose on of our Keyword Domain Names
To choose your Keyword Domain Name, the best way to start is to go to our Names.of.London search page and start typing in a keyword. Our search tool will find you all available domain names that start with your word. If you type in a second word, that will be added to your search.
Once you see a phrase that matches your business, click on it to buy it.
2 … Buy the Domain Name
At the buying stage, the minimum you need to enter is your name, email address and password. You also need to select your payment method and agree to our terms of service.
We need a login for you, so you have the option of changing what you do with the domain in the future. If you want to keep it for more than a year, you will need to renew its subscription in 12 months time. We will never send you junk mail, or sell your details on, but (in a years time) we will send you reminders that its subscription is about to expire.
If you are registering this domain for a business, you can click the “Register a Business” link and you will be given the option to enter the full details of the business. These are the details that will appear on the purchase receipt you receive once you have paid.
Once you are done on this page, click “Continue” at the bottom and you will be shown a summary of all your details and asked to confirm they are correct.
After confirming the details, the domain is reserved in your name, but not live until you have paid for it.
3 … Click the Link to Pay
When you click the button to make the payment, you will be taken directly to the payment service you have chosen - WorldPay for credit/debit cards or PayPal.
As soon as you have paid and the payment service have cleared the payment, they will notify us and your domain will go live immediately. We will also send you an email to confirm this along with a receipt.
4 … Select Your Click-Tracking Service
If you have only just registered the domain name, and you are still on the page that says “Application for Domain Successful”, then you can just click the “Configure” button and you will see a number of options of how to publish your Keyword Domain to the Internet.
If you have moved off that page, click the “My Domain” option towards the centre/right of the menu bar and select “Modify DNS / Forwarding” from the drop-down in the right hand column against your domain name.
To use your name with Bit.ly, in the “Domain Publication Method” you need to select “Use this as a Vanity Domain with a URL Shortening Service”.
Then in the “URL Shortening Service” section immediately below, you need to select “Bit.ly Branded Short Domain” and press the “Save Changes” button at the bottom.
5 … Add the Domain to Your Click-Tracker
If you've not already registered with Bit.ly, registering only takes a few seconds. Adding your “Branded Short Domain” to Bit.ly takes a little longer, but its not hard.
First, log into your Bit.ly account and click the menu button in the top right corner.
In the first menu select “Settings”
in the next menu select “Advanced Settings”
in the next menu select “Branded Short Domain”
You then need to enter the Keyword Domain Name you have bought, and press the “Verify” button at the bottom
Bit.ly will then check we've set everything up correctly, which (of course) we have!
If you have already paid for your domain, and set it to be a Bit.ly branded short domain, then their verification process is usually very quick. Wait a little, then click again on the “Branded Short Domain” menu option and you should see it has been verified.
Now you can create short links using your new Keyword Domain Name. So no longer will take have links like this ...
but, instead, you get branded links like this ...
Your short links will now not only take people to the page you wanted, but also promote your business or services at the same time.
6 … No, that's it – there really are only 5 steps!
Having support for a range of click-tracking / link shortening services built into our unique keyword domain name registration system means it couldn't be easier to brand your shortened links with a phrase that not only makes your short links look a whole lot sexier, but really makes them stand out. Now you are promoting your brand, not the brand of the shortening service.
One thing to watch for with Bit.ly is they have a limit of 15 characters (including the dots) on the length of Branded Short Domains. There's no special technical reason for this, but they do it, so you need to be aware of it.
However, Rebrandly has no such limit, so if you're hitting this issue, just switch to Rebrandly. When you first register your domain with Rebrandly their verification process takes a little longer – for me it took about an hour, but they say it can take up to 24 hours – as its a one-off check its a bit of a shame, but it shouldn't matter too much.
If You Prefer to use Rebrandly
Once you have set Rebrandly as the URL Shortening Service provider in our interface, here's the procedure you need to go through at Rebrandly
First Login to their interface, then click the “Domains” option in the menu bar near the top, then click the item saying you already have a domain
"(for experts only)" - Not with us! You're going to sail this one - our experts already have the techie stuff more than covered.
On the next form confirm that the domain is “spare”, this means you're going to only use it with Rebrandly.
Enter the name of the Keyword Domain you have bought from us, and click continue.
That's you're all done – we will have already completed the techie instructions they give, for you.
Now you just have to wait for them to verify the domain is correctly set up. They usually send you an email when its done. You won't be able to create links using your keyword domain until they have verified it.
A Bit More on Short Links
On the Bit.ly “Edit Branded Domain” menu, there is an option for “ROOT & 404 Redirect” - this is referring to where you want Bit.ly to send people if they use a short code that doesn't exist (404), or if they use your Keyword Domain Name without any sort code at all (ROOT).
In my example Keyword Domain of “flowers.for.mom” the ROOT would mean http://flowers.for.mom/ and a 404 might be http://flowers.for.mom/INVALID
Typically you might want to send ROOT and 404 requests to the front page of your website or the front page of the service you are offering. Or, for 404 errors, you might want to send people to a page saying “I'm sorry that doesn't work” - its up to you.
Rebrandly also have the “ROOT & 404” features, which they call “Main Landing page” and “Custom 404 redirection” respectively. However, these are only available to subscribers and not available in the free service - unlike Bit.ly.
Short URLs are great for sending out in emails or for posting on social media, by using a Keyword Domain Name from Names.of.London, you can make your short URLs look better, be more memorable and promote your brand / products, instead of somebody else's.
If you're interested in earning an income by promoting Names.of.London's Phrases.for.Sale, please take a look at our Affiliate Program.