A URL shortener is a service that takes a long URL (a web address, such as brandrockt.com) and compacts it into a shorter string of characters, making it easier to read. Not only is this more visually pleasing than a string of random characters, but going this route also introduces several benefits — including the ability to further market your brand.
Below are a few reasons why you should be using a URL shortener as soon as possible. To get started, I recommend trying Bitly — the most popular URL shortener that offers a bunch of great features.
Probably the most attractive feature that Bitly has to offer, you can actually set up a branded domain — also referred to as a custom URL. This is the domain that takes the place of "bit.ly" in any of your shortened URLs.
The only downside? The domain you choose can only be used for custom URLs and nothing else. In other words, when choosing a domain, be sure to purchase it with that in mind. Try to find a domain that directly relates to your brand, that way it's instantly recognizable.
Every click is trackable
Because your custom URL is powered by Bitly, this enables you to track each and every click it generates. This can be incredibly useful for creating URLs specific to certain pages on your website, or even via any of your social media accounts.
All recorded clicks also include analytical data, including where they are coming from and how often they're being shared. Think Google Analytics, but for your own custom URL. It's actually quite cool.
Aside from purchasing your domain, setting up a custom URL via Bitly is completely free. Requiring only a few minutes of your time during the initial setup process, going this route is a no-brainer — especially if branding is important to you. Why not give it a shot?
Of course, as noted above, creating a custom URL does require a domain name. And let's face it, finding a domain name that is already available isn't exactly easy. If you're in need of assistance, feel free to reference our Finding the Perfect Domain Name post. It offers several tips that can make the domain searching process a little less stressful.