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I wrote an article way back in 2013 with the title Are You Using Ugly Urls? The reasons for using easy to read URLs that I talked about in that article are still valid today.
Another way to make web links easier to read is to use a URL shortening service. This is especially relevant for the information you’re posting on social platforms.
Why Should You Shorten URLs?
Using tiny URL links is an easy and more aesthetically pleasing way to share a link to an article than the long website address. They are an excellent tool for marketers and for emails to customers since clients are more likely to click on a short URL that conveys the information that can be found on the site. Short links are easier to paste into chats or emails and fit onto social media posts that limit the number of characters.
Several sites provide link shortening services. These include Bitly, Rebrandly, Tinycc, and a whole host of others. Using one of these websites to shorten your website links is an okay way to get started. But I never liked using one of the services. A couple of years ago, I discovered a better way to create your own personal branded URL shortening service.
Why Custom URL Shortening?
One of the primary benefits of using a custom URL shortening service is that you can brand your organization. Having my own custom shortener appealed to me. You may have seen some of these custom short links in my articles and social posts. I use them extensively.
I have created two custom link-shortening domains for branding purposes.
The first is SteveA.me, which I use for all of my insurance technology related posts.
The second is BezosL.com, which I created for all of the links in my book, The Bezos Letters. Any link within the printed book uses this domain. The benefit is if the actual link changes, all I need to do is edit the destination URL.
How to Create a Custom Short Link
Here are the steps to take to create your custom shortening link service:
- Find a short domain relevant to your agency to set up short and simple redirects. Keep the domain under ten characters, if possible.
- Note I used both .com and .me domains. In this situation, a non .com domain will work fine.
- Using your new domain, create a free WordPress site. Both of my sites are only one page and have a link to my main site.
- Install the free WordPress plug-in Pretty Link Lite. It is free. There is a Pro (paid) version for this plug-in, but I don’t currently use it.
- Using the plug-in, create a new short link that will redirect to the full website address.
- Use this new short link anywhere you want to reference the full website address.
The process is very easy to set up and use. It provides your readers with a much easier and shorter experience when typing in a URL.
In the image below, you will see where I created a short link for my new LinkedIn Newsletter — Return on Risk. In the “Target URL” box, you will see the full “ugly link.” In the pretty Link box, you will see the short URL I created (liror for LinkedIn Return on Risk). I always fill out the notes section so I can remember what I was thinking at the time I created the link.
One advantage of using a service like this is that if the target URL changes, you can edit the settings to update the target URL. Your main Pretty Link doesn’t change. This is why I created short links for the printed version of my book The Bezos Letters. If any of the URLs change, the links in the book would always work.
One of the other advantages of using Pretty Links is that it tracks the number of clicks a particular link receives.
As you probably can see, it does take a bit of technical expertise to go through this process. But, I want to assure you it is not hard. If you don’t want to do it, look for someone in your office who is comfortable with WordPress and could easily create these custom link sites for you.
Do you use a link shortening service now?