You’ve seen them on popular sites like Huffington Post, The Verge, End Gadget and the like use them. When they share they have that neat short url (example: “engt.co”). How do they do that though? If you currently use bit.ly for your shortening your links were you aware you could add your own custom domain? In this short tutorial I’ll show you how to create your own custom short domain for bit.ly. From setting up your domain, configuring the DNS with your registrar, what plugin to get, and how to set all of this up to work with bit.ly.
What is bit.ly?
For those who don’t know its a free link shortening service. It will take your regular long URL and create a much shorter version of it using bit.ly then adding some random characters with it.
If you ever use Twitter and their 140 character limit when posting on there you’ll see the benefit of using a shortened link. Its also used due to the level of trust they have created with it. When you see a bit.ly link. You know its not going to re-direct you to some website that wants to infect your computer or steal your data.
Taking it a Step Further – Using Your Own Custom Short Domain
Now what if you had your own custom short URL you could use instead? Instead of having the bit.ly you could have something like yourna.me or some other short URL instead. After doing the research and going through the steps it took to get setup. I was able to get my own setup in about 20 minutes.
Finding a Domain
This was by far the hardest part of the process. As more and more people are starting to do this. Trying to find a domain that isn’t already either in use or horded by domain squatters trying to extort huge sums of money can be difficult.
I was finally able to find my own ajgeek.me. You just need to hunt around until you find a combination that works. I would start out with using Domai.nr to find the name. Then use your preferred registrar to purchase the domain name after. With the service it will help you find a shortened version of your blog name that is available. I personally use GoDaddy (affiliate link) and it cost me $10 dollars to register it.
Warning: If you really like a short domain name and it isn’t available on GoDaddy – Be ready to pay… alot. I’ve seen them go as high as $500.00!
After you have registered your new shortened domain name you will need to get it setup with bit.ly.
If you haven’t already you will need to signup for your own bit.ly account. It is quick and simple. After you have verified your email and are logged into bit.ly – you will need to click on the Settings under your Account in the upper right hand of the bit.ly screen.
Adding the Shortened Domain
After you click on the settings screen you will need to click on the “Advanced” tab.
- Go to the custom short domain section on the page.
- Note: You will need to select whether this is for personal or a business use. Since technically this is a one man blog? I selected Personal. If you are a fully fledged business? Then you will need to fill out the short survey and go from there.
- Enter in the new short domain you just purchased and click next.
- You will then need to add the necessary DNS information with your registrar. Use the example below to help you set that up.
Adding the DNS Entry
This applies to GoDaddy users. Its the same basic steps for any registrar.
- Login to your GoDaddy Account
- Click on the big Launch Button where it says Domains.
- Click on the Domain you just purchased.
- Click on DNS Zone Tab
- You will see the “A” Name with an “@” sign. Right now it is pointing to the GoDaddy default parked page. You will want to click on Edit then add the following IP Address: 188.8.131.52. Click on Save – then Save Entry again to Confirm it.
Note: DNS Changes can take up to 48 hrs to propagate. Although for me they usually only take a few minutes (here in the U.S.).
Verify with Bit.ly
After you have your DNS setup for the new domain. You will need to go back to bit.ly and click on the Verify button. After it states it’s been verified? Your all set to start using it!
Get the Bit.ly WordPress Plugin
Now if you want your WordPress site to automatically use the new custom short domain? Its as simple as installing bit.ly’s Official WordPress Plugin. Download and install it directly from inside of your WordPress.
Then you will be prompted to enter in the necessary Oath Security. To get this code you will need to go back to bit.ly here.
- Enter in your Password that you use to login to bit.ly
- Copy and paste the code generated into the WordPress plugin.
- After it completes you will see the drop down which now displays your custom domain shortener! Select it and click Save.
Now whenever someone shares using your Social buttons it will automatically shorten your article using your new custom domain.
Warning: You might break your Social Share counts… I’m currently beta testing the one you see on here – and I broke it. So make sure to test after you implement this. You might just want to remove the plugin and create your links manually instead.
After that your all set. Oh wait.. did you want to track your clicks?
You can also setup tracking with bit.ly to see how people are sharing or clicking on your links.
You will need to add your ‘long domain’ i.e. your website URL in order to enable tracking. Also you will need to verify with bit.ly again by one of three methods:
Click on the Verify button after you have completed ONE of the three steps above. Give it a few minutes for it to finish verifying and then you should be all set to start tracking your bit.ly links.
If you have everything setup correctly? You now have your own custom shortened domain you can use whenever you wish to share a link. Either from the blog posts you have created or that favorite grumpy cat meme. Just remember.. share responsibly!
— Jason M (@avgjoegeek) May 21, 2014
If you run into issues – or if I messed something up in the instructions provided? Drop me a comment and I will do my best to answer any questions you might have.