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Make Your Blog Better-Episode 2: Custom URL Shortening! (bit.ly/pro)

Posted Jan 22 2011 10:13am

This is the second in a new series on my blog, “Make Your Blog Better” (MYBB) where I’ll stretch my nerdy wings and share tech/blogging information that will improve the quality of your blog. Check out the previous MYBB post here , and the MYBB-Minibite here ! Smile

Do you ever use URL shortening sites like

  • or the proprietary shorteners like those in facebook or twitter (and their respective 3rd party apps)?

 

With the surging popularity of microblogging sites, and the fact that keystrokes are at an unprecedented premium, shortening long URLS is something that has become second nature to most of us in the social world.

 

I’ve been wanting to make sure that the links I share on twitter and Facebook are easily identifiable as legitimately from ME, and tiny URLS have changed the game in that regard. Someone in your stream says,

“OMG, Check out this LINK: http://bit.ly/gxxEeQ ” And you, (trusting your friend) click on this now unidentifiable link and the next thing you know, Rick Astley is jumping out in all his glory, and you done been RickRoll’d. (Yes that is a live Rick Roll. LOVE it.) or worse… clicked on a spam link, because your friend let their fb get hacked by clicking on some random facebook application that promises electronic eskimo kisses or something… (hey, we ALL have some of those fb friends, right?)

 

So, here’s how you can implement your own, customized URL shortening service using bit.ly pro.

Before you begin, here is what you need…

  • the tiny domain you want to use. I’m hosted through godaddy, so I used their domain search functions to find one that suited me… my short domain is kels.es so all of the short links that I generate using this method will be kels.es/S0MEthIng. This is NOT free. I was able to get my domain for $13 bucks for a whole year. You don’t need any additional hosting, so that was the only expense.
  • a bit.ly account.
  • access to your DNS manager (which you access through your hosting panel- mine is godaddy)
  • The ability to follow pretty basic instructions about changing things in your DNS manager, and perhaps a bit of experience in clicking around a bit to find the right way to edit simple values.

 

*click through to finish the tutorial*

 

So, First, you need to buy your new domain. The whole point is to keep it SHORT, so use some of the international endings like .co, .me, .us, .it, or .am… If you’re creative you can probably find a great way to tie in your blog branding and make it cute and memorable. I’ve even seen some people who have been able to find a way to break up their name/blog name and use a suffix to be the ending of the word. Be creative. Buy it. Have access to it in your account manager. I strongly recommend you purchase the new domain through the host you already use and have experience with.

image

Let it get all set up so you have access to it. It might take 10 minutes, it might take 24 hours.

 

Then go to http://bit.ly/a/pro_request and request a Bit.ly PRO account. It is FREE, but is in Beta, so you need to ask for access. They require you to already have your short domain, and regular domain, so make sure that’s in place.

image

 

 

I don’t think there are any prolonged waits. I asked for and was granted an account within 24 hours, and it didn’t seem to be based on any sort of merit, so request, and you (seemingly) shall receive.

 

Once you have your bit.ly pro account, they’ll email you, and you’ll need to go ahead and log into your domain manager/web host account, and log into your shiny new bit.ly pro account.

 

Just a few settings to change.

 

ALL OF THESE INSTRUCTIONS ARE PROVIDED IN THE BIT.LY PRO SETTINGS AREA. THESE ARE MEARLY SUPPLEMENTARY DIRECTIONS, MEANT TO ADD CLARIFICATION. (DISCLAIMER, DON’T BLAME ME IF YOUR CLICKY-CLICKY MESSES SOMETHING UP. FOLLOW THE INTSRUCTIONS AND YOU’LL BE FINE.)

 

1. set up your custom short domain…

this is your new domain you purchased, the tiny one… mine is kels.es and you need to set a DNS record in your domain manager.

Go to the DNS area of your web manager (mine is through godaddy)… (it is probably called DNS manager or something similar.)

image

 

See where it says, A (HOST)? That’s the A Record heading.

The table below stores the A record… where it says, “Host” is @ and “Points to” has some ip number.

Find the edit button for the “points to field” and change the value to the one bit.ly specified on your pro settings/set up page.

 

Then you just need to confirm that you are the owner of your Dashboard Tracking Domain… This is your regular long URL… Mine is kelseytoney.com  

 

To prove you own it, there are 3 options, I strongly prefer making the simple DNS addition. It’s easy, cause you’re already in your DNS manager.

Go to the DNS page for your OTHER/REGULAR website domain.

 

Find the CNAME heading (this is not the A (Host) heading.) and hunt around for the Add button.

 

image

 

You’ll add a numerical value (provided to you by the bit.ly pro settings page in the “HOST” field, and cname.bit.ly in the “points to” field. 

 

Give Bit.ly 10 minutes to 24 hours to get everything all verified. Patience is a virtue.

 

Once that’s up and running, you’re ready to go!!

Here are a couple of the COOL things this means for you, as a bit.ly pro and CUSTOM URL creating master!!

  1. The AWESOME bit.ly analytics!! Bit.ly has great analytics which means that you can track who clicks on your tiny url, and from what sources. I love that… image
  2. You can use your bit.ly API key to use your bit.ly integration in many popular twitter apps…

image (It’s a super cool Norway Tourism site powered by google maps. It’s gorgeous, by the way.)

This… turned immediately into this :

image

(just add your bit.ly username and API key from the bit.ly settings page in the tweetdeck settings- This also works with TONS of other 3rd party apps)

 

3. And lastly, people will get continued access to your name/branding which is great, plus they know it isn’t some auto generated tweet, it will have HAD to be generated through your password protected bit.ly pro account. (which you’ll keep safe, with a complex password, right?)

 

 

Hope this is helpful. Leave any questions in the comments section, and I promise to TRY and help you out if I can. Open-mouthed smile


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