Thoughts on Custom Branded URL Shorteners and How to Setup Bit.ly Pro in 3 Simple Steps

TentBlo.gs !

Some of you may have noticed that I’ve been using a new URL shortener http://tentblo.gs!

What’s neat is that this is nothing more than the free “Pro” service provided by Bit.ly and it’s fairly easy to setup!

The steps to create your own URL shortener are fairly easy but I thought I’d walk you through it just in case.

But first, here’s my thoughts on URL shorteners in general:

Do You Need a URL Shortener?

I believe that the camps are crowded on both sides of the fence as to whether or not a blogger needs their own URL shortener and here’s what I’ve come to believe: It doesn’t really matter.

And I’m pretty confident about that position! I think that by using well-known URL shorteners like Bit.ly and such (as well as the native Twitter http:/t.co system) that you’ll be just fine.

Twitter uses their own T.co shortener.

The reasons that it’s good to use these well-known systems is that they are simply just that – well-known! People recognize them and are familiar with them.

The other side of the fence argues pretty heavily that by having your own branded URL Shortener that you somehow “enhance” your brand and all that smooth-talking jazz. But I’m not sure the impact is as guaranteed as some of these so-called experts declare.

But to each his own really!

When You Should Use Your Own:

This was cheap...

Here’s what I counsel people when they consider using their own vanity or custom-branded URL Shortener:

  1. Do you have the technical know-how to get one running?
  2. Do you have the “extra” capital to spend to a great and effective URL shortener? This is important since a top level country domain that’s short (and clever) may not be cheap to buy! For example, TentBlo.gs cost me an addition $39.95 per year and this is a cheap top level domain!
  3. Does it “matter” to you, really?

If you say “Yes” to most of these (or all three of them) then go for it. If not, you’re honestly not missing out on much and your success won’t be impacted at all.

Using Bit.ly Pro:

If you do decide to go “pro” with a custom branded URL shortener then one more simple option is to use Bit.ly’s Pro service which can have you running in only a few easy steps. There are a number of other options out there that are just as good and even a few self-hosted Open Source solutions like Yourls.org.

Here’s how:

1. Sign Up to Bit.ly

Sign up to Bit.ly first and then you’ll get your account info.

2. Sign Up for Pro

Now head over to the “Pro” sign up and walk through that.

3. Setup Your Custom Short Domain

The next part requires that you have access to change some of the “Domain Zone File” settings from your hosting provider.

You’ll have to add an “A Record” (and probably delete the current ones) to do this:

My A Record settings.

You’ll have to do this for your shortener domain.

Then you’ll also have to add a “CNAME Record” for the Tracking Domain:

My CNAME Record for TentBlogger.com

The instructions via Bit.ly are pretty helpful but sometimes you just need to see it, right?

Then all you have to hit is “Save” and then wait for it to populate through the internet!

Now, any application that you’ve used and authenticated through with your username and password will use your URL shortener instead automagically!

I love that word… “auto-magically”…!

And that’s that.

Again, it’s ultimately up to you if you want to use one and it won’t hurt or necessarily benefit you too much. If you’ve got the time, interest, and capital I say go for it! If not, have a great rest of the day and don’t think about it again.

Thoughts? Do you have a custom branded URL shortener?