By now you’ve noticed that the internet is awash in custom branded short links. Google has goog.gl and Youtu.be, Facebook has fb.me, Twitter has t.co, Stumble Upon has su.pr and social media is flooded with custom links like kiss.ly, vki.me, ow.ly etc.
Today I want to show you how to set up your own custom short URLs with Bit.ly Pro.
Step 1: Find a Domain
This is probably the hardest part of this process. You need to find a free short domain to use, which is a little like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. However, there are tools to help you. These include:
- Wikipedia’s list of domains that allow commercial/vanity use
- Bust-a-name – a wonderful domain check/combiner tool.
- Domainr – another good tool for searching for free domains.
Step 2: Register a Bit.ly Account
Next sign up at bit.ly for an account. Then under settings, click custom short domain. Input the shortened domain you want to use.
Step 3: Set Up Your Domain
You will also need to set your shortened domains address record to point to a bit.ly IP address which bit.ly will give you. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask your IT guy.
Step 4: Verify Your Domain
Bit.ly will allow you to do this a number of ways, the easiest of which is to upload a file to your root directory. You can also set metatags on your home page or set a CNAME record to point to cname.bit.ly. By this point your domain shortener should be working.
Optional step: Tools!
Bit.ly provides a number of browser plug-ins and bookmarklets for shortening URLs, as well as some analytics tools, at bitly.com/pages/tools.
Tweet/Share/Like/Buzz/etc. This – If you’re using a “tweet this” button, you can set it to use your custom short links.
Custom URL’s with tweet deck/etc. – any application that will allow you to enter your bitly API key can use custom short codes.
Custom short domains seem like a great idea at first but remember that you will have to hold on to that domain for them to continue working. So while custom short domains are fantastic for short term social media such as Twitter, be wary if you intend to use them for anything else.