With social media sharing on a rise, we are seeing more and more attempts for branding. This branding starts from a custom twitter background, facebook welcome page, but it does not stop there. While most of us were sharing generic ow.ly, and other URL shortners, top brands like New York Times, TechCrunch, BuySellAds, and others were using their own customized short urls like “nyti.ms”, “tcrn.ch”, “bsa.ly”. This got us thinking, and we decided to create our very own customized short URL for WPBeginner which a lot of you has asked about. For those who did not see it, look over at our twitter @wpbeginner. We are using “wpbeg.in” as our custom branded short URL for this blog. A custom branded short url is great for building a personal or business brand, as readers will know exactly where it will lead when they see it shared on social networks. In this article, we will share how you too can get your very own customized short url for your WordPress blog.
Step 1: Buy a Short URL
Most of us do not have a very short URL for our blog because if we did, we could be using this trick instead. But because we do not have a short URL, we would need to purchase a short URL. Now if you think about it, these domains are very creative, so how can you find it quickly? Well you can use number of tools to find domains, but we recommend using Domai.nr to find these cool names.
If you type in the word you want to include in your short URL, this site will provide the different ways you might assemble it with a variety of domain extensions (TLD). It also lets you know which of these options are available for purchase. You need to make sure that your Domain is less than 15 characters. Once you have picked the domain, register it from the top registrar: Godaddy (look around the web, and you might find coupons as well that works for .in)
Step 2: Setup Custom Domain in Bit.ly
Most of us do not have the capability to create our own script that lets us manage, and track branded short URLs. But you have nothing to worry because bit.ly has taken care of that. It is free for everyone. Simply sign up for a Bit.ly account. Once you are logged in, click on the Settings link which can be found under the dropdown of your username.
Once on the settings page, click on the tab called “Advanced”. Follow along with the process and add your short domain in Bit.ly
Step 3: Set an A Record to Point to Bit.ly
Next step is setting an A Record, or DNS Host, for your short URL to point to bit.ly’s IP address. We presume that you took our advice and used Godaddy to register your domain. The A record is located under the “Total DNS” tab, so login and add the DNS record and point it to the IP 18.104.22.168 (this is Bit.ly’s IP).
If you are using a subdomain for example on.wsj.com, then you need to set a CNAME record and point it to cname.bitly.com
Step 4: Verify Your Site
It can take up to 48 hours for domain changes to propagate. You’ll know the DNS has been setup correctly when you can set your custom short domain as the default domain in your bit.ly settings.
Once your setup is complete, any url that you shorten from your site will use your custom branded domain. If you do follow this article and decide to get your own Customized URL, then please share with us in the comments.
We hope that this answered all questions that everyone asked us about how we had such an awesome short url for our tweets “wpbeg.in”.
Update: We now use WP Bit.ly plugin to automatically create short URLs for all of our WordPress posts and pages.