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The 5 Reasons Why You Should Be Using URL Shorteners

URL shorteners has been around for quite some time now. They are used to make long URLs more manageable by “masking” it and replacing it with a very short version. They are not widely used back then but with the advent of “character limited” social media services (ie: Twitter), URL shortening services started popping out left and right which evolved it further as a service.   Today, one of the most popular services is bitly and it offers a lot of features when it comes to managing all of your links. Actually, it’s not about shortening links anymore, in fact, it’s now mandatory to have this service specially if you care about your click data and seo performance.   Listed below are 5 reasons why you should start using url shorteners.   1. Link Management By using URL shortener services, you get total control of all your shared and non-shared links via an intuitive management dashboard. All url shortening services have this as a basic feature so you don’t have to worry if you’re using a different service on your links.     Bitly’s link management dashboard.   The management dashboard gives you a bird’s eye view of the many different metrics attached to your links performance.   2. Metrics In the early days of URL shortening services, it only does one thing and one thing only - and that’s to shorten long URLs. Today, services like this offers a LOT more and one of those features is so powerful, it’s one of the reasons why these type of services is mandatory to have if you have an active online presence.     URL Shorteners allows you to track the performance of your links.   It’s called link tracking. What it does is it basically attaches a lot of different data in your links that will help you track its performance. Listed below are some of the useful data that will be recorded and compiled every time your link is clicked.   Total Clicks - Shows you how many times your link was clicked. Referrers - Shows you the sites where your link was clicked or shared. Location - Shows you the country of origin where your link was clicked.   3. Personalization URL shorteners are good and all but it’s kind of a bummer since by default, it removes your branding on the generated shortlink and replaces it with the service’s brand. The good news is, if you know how to tinker with your domain settings, you can actually purchase your own custom domain name and use it as the default url for all of your generated shortlinks.     KIKA uses its own branded domain name in all of its generated shortlinks.   Don’t know how to setup your custom domain for your shortlinks?  Then you’re in for a treat. We actually posted a guide on how to do this yourself at kika.mk/BrandedBitlinks. See how the link I posted is branded? Pretty cool right?   4. SEO URL shorteners back then are being frowned upon by some people since it affects your overall SEO. It removes everything about your link that makes it hard for google to crawl it and record the necessary data about it - well, not anymore.     URL shorteners actually helps your SEO..   URL shorteners actually helps your SEO by increasing clickthrough rate and by promoting sharing of your links. Some URL shorteners also allows you to set SEO keywords in your generated shortlinks which Google will thank you for.   Still not convinced? Then watch this short 1 minute video from the intelligent folks at Google regarding the state of URL shorteners https://youtu.be/QMkltd6dZzU.   5. Everyone Is Using It URL shorteners are being used on almost every websites today. It’s so mainstream that sometimes it’s second nature for people to click through once they see it on a webpage.     It’s also so popular, Google created their own service called goo.gl.   Final Thoughts I hope this article helped in explaining the benefits of URL shorteners when it comes to your online presence. It not only makes your links more manageable, it also helps you track its performance for SEO purposes. With so many url shortening services available, it’s up to you to decide which ones to use. They work pretty much the same way so you’ll be right at home once you start using the technology.

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Content Marketing: Creating your branded bit.ly

Everyone hates long URLS specially the ones with a lot of cryptic url parameters. It’s long, non-descriptive, and difficult to remember. You’ll also have a hard time posting these long urls on social sites with “character-limits” as it will surely eat all of your character bandwidth before you can even post your actual content.     This is where services called URL Shorteners comes into play and it was developed with one sole purpose - to shorten your long URLS. Now, you might be asking “Isn’t it using services like this will have a negative impact on my SEO?”. If we’re talking about 5 years ago, yes, but today, URL shorteners have evolved and it’s actually quite mandatory to have it if you care a lot about your online exposure and SEO. How? It’s by customizing your shortened urls using your own brand.     Bit.ly is a free url shortener service.   In this guide, we’re going to use one of the most popular URL shorteners service called bit.ly. If you haven’t already, open your favorite browser and visit https://bitly.com/. Feel free to read about its features. This guide assumes you already have a bit.ly account, so before continuing, make sure to sign up and login. After logging in, you will be redirected to your bit.ly dashboard.     This is your  bit.ly dashboard. Notice how our links are customized based on our brand (it does not use the bit.ly url).   Your bit.ly dashboard shows all of your created bit.ly links. In case you’re already using bit.ly, you’ll notice that your links are formatted like this http://bit.ly/1iidA9N. This is the default formatting and url naming of bit.ly and most of the time, it’s enough for the majority of users. But this is not what we want! We want our links to stand-out among the rest!     On the top right of your dashboard, click the MENU icon. This will show you your account menu list. What you want to click here is the SETTINGS button which is under the options menu.     Upon clicking the settings button, another window will popup with 3 options. What we want here is the ADVANCED SETTINGS button.     The advanced settings menu is where we can find the option to customize our bit.ly links called Brand Short Domain. Upon clicking this link, it will show us the necessary steps to customize our default bit.ly generated links.     The steps involved sounds scary at first, but it’s actually pretty simple. It basically involves buying a domain name and setting up the necessary DNS records on your domain name so that it points to bit.ly servers.     You can use domain registrars like namecheap in purchasing your own domain.   There are a lot of domain registrars available and it’s up to you which ones to use. For the purpose of this guide, I’ll be showing you how to set up your your domain’s DNS servers to point to bit.ly servers (assuming that your domain was purchased from Namecheap). If you haven’t purchased a custom domain yet, go ahead and purchase one first.     Namecheap dashboard showing all of your purchased domain names.   Upon signing up and purchasing your custom domain from namecheap, you are now able to view all of your purchased domain names on your dashboard. Click on the manage button to setup your custom domain. This is where we will assign the necessary DNS servers so that bit.ly can start using it.     On the manage page, find the NAMESERVERS settings uption and change it from Namecheap BasicDNS to Custom DNS.     Input the DNS servers listed on your bit.ly branded domains settings page. It will then propagate to bit.ly servers and sometimes it takes 24-48 hours to be fully setup. To verify if your custom domain is now usable, head over to your bit.ly dashboard and under SETTINGS > ADVANCED SETTINGS > BRANDED DOMAINS, enter your own custom domain on the field provided and click VERIFY DOMAIN.   Once verified, you will see something similar above. Congratulations! You can now start using your branded bit.ly links!   -   “What if my domains were purchased using a different domain registrar?” The process is going to be pretty much identical. You just need to know where to find your domain’s settings page on your preferred domain registrar. Every domain registrar has a settings page where you can update/change DNS records.   “Will it really take up to 24-48 hours before I can use my own custom branded domain?” Most of the time, no. My personal branded bit.ly link only took roughly 20 mins to propagate. Just regularly click the verify domain button on your bit.ly dashboard to check if your custom domain is already verified.

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