A link shortening service allows you to use a short, easy to remember, and easy to type website link to send people to a much longer and more complex one. For example, which link would you rather give out to someone:
stevea.me/mouse-setup (last week’s TechTip)
steveanderson.com/2018/08/23/how-to-set-up-your-mouse-for-maximum-effectiveness/ (the actual URL for the article on my website)
Which is easier to remember and to type? It is obvious.
You’re probably familiar with some of the more common link shortening domains and services currently available such as:
- Bitly: bit.ly
- Google: goo.gl
- LinkedIn: lnkd.in
- TinyURL: tiny.cc
- …and dozens (if not hundreds) of others!
Why Create Your Own Branded Solution?
If there are so many viable and reasonable alternatives available, why would you ever consider going through the trouble of creating and using your own? Here are a few good reasons:
- A new domain does not cost very much.
- My solution (keep reading) is FREE.
- Because you own the domain, you control everything.
- You can enhance your brand.
Since you own the domain, you can also set up Facebook (and Google) tracking pixels on the redirect site so that everyone going through your short link is also “cookied” so you can follow their activity. This helps with marketing research.
You can create as many custom sites as you want. They are yours and tied to your brand. This is a “good thing” for maximizing your Internet Presence.
Here Is an Example…
I have several domains that I use for the sole purpose of creating and tracking short links. The main short link site I use I mentioned above: SteveA.me. I have created a couple of other domains for two upcoming books projects.
If you go to https://SteveA.me, you’ll see that it’s a simple one-page website. It has a little bit of branding on it, just in case someone lands on it. It has a professional look and directs them to the appropriate affiliated sites for my other products and services. However, that’s not the purpose of the site.
The purpose of the site is for me to quickly and easily be able to create my own branded, shortened URLs, which allow for tracking, statistics collection, and cookie setting.
The Free WordPress Plugin That Makes This Possible… Pretty Link
The magic in this process is a FREE plugin for WordPress called Pretty Link. You can grab it here:
https://stevea.me/pl (see how I did that?)
Pretty Link also has a “Pro” version that is available at a very reasonable price. I currently use the free version as I have not yet needed the more advanced features available in the Pro version. The software takes two minutes to install and probably even less to learn how to use it. It is that simple. All you do is enter the redirect name and the destination URL — boom, you’re done!
Here’s a picture of the screen so you can see just how simple it is:
Creating Your Link Shortening Site
It’s a straightforward process, but here it is step-by-step:
- Buy a very short, preferably “on-brand” domain (note my SteveA.me example).
- Install WordPress on the site. This is free and almost always provided by your hosting service.
- Install the Pretty Link Lite (or Pro, if you want) plugin.
- Create a nice, branded landing page for the home page. (Optional)
It is that simple, and you can complete this process in less than 20 minutes — it’s not tough. You’ll probably spend more time researching a short, on-brand domain name than anything else. I recommend looking at the alternative domain name extensions like “.co” or “.biz” or “.me,” etc. Those are newer domain names, and you’re much more likely to find a good, short domain name option.
Keep your new address as short as possible. My favorite, preferred length is 4 to 6 letters, but that can be tough. However, SteveA.me is an example of one but is eight letters.
You can now use your new, shortened URL anywhere you like. They are especially helpful to put on a postcard, letter, print advertising, billboard, or wherever you want to direct someone to a page on your website and not force them to type a long, ugly web address.