How to Create a Custom Vanity URL

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Give your business a marketing boost with your very own vanity url.

We decided to create a custom vanity URL after doing research for our post on Why Bitly Will Knock Your Socks Off.  We love both Bitly and Rebrandly, but we loved the idea to amp up our marketing even more.  You can use either service with your own custom domain and we will show you how you can do it all by yourself.

A vanity URL is a custom URL purchased and branded uniquely representing you and your business.  It's just like buying your own new domain name and URL, the difference is that a vanity URL is used for marketing purposes.  A vanity URL is used to shorten links users have to type in in order to be directed to a website.  In the previous post, Why Bitly Will Knock Your Socks Off, we discuss it with social media and posting links.  But it can also be used in promotional materials.

Continue reading to learn more about how to choose your custom vanity URL and what you do once you purchase your new domain.

I just learned how to give myself a
marketing boost with a vanity URL. 

choosing your custom vanity url

This entire process is actually quite easy and it all starts with deciding what your vanity URL should be.  It is critical vanity URL should go along with rest of your branding.  

Our Example

Our website for Skill Space is www.skill-space.com.  You can access all kinds of features by visiting that URL.  

To shorten our links, we use Bitly.  Before, however, shortened links would read bit.ly/socialmanage5.  However, now they read skill-space.co/socialmanage5, as an example.  Ideally, we would have loved skill.space/socialmanage5, but that was $699.99 per year versus $7.99 for the first year and $19.99 for each subsequent year.  I simply couldn't rationalize $700 per year for our custom vanity!  We didn't even spend that much on this main website (in which we also wanted skill.space, but the same problem existed then).

naming your vanity url

We were very close with using the following vanity URL: ss.co as a backup to the already taken ss.biz.  However, we thought long term: what is SS?  Well, it's a great abbreviation for Skill Space, but it's not exactly universally known unless you are a world history buff -- which is not exactly the perception we want with our brand at all.  We also debated whether we should use the hyphen or not.  We actually hate the hyphen but www.skillspace.com is already taken (by someone who doesn't actually use the domain name, mind you).

 

Buying your vanity url

We have been using GoDaddy.com since the beginning, so it's really just our default when it comes to domains and website hosting.  They usually have very great deals and helpful 24/7 customer service.  Using GoDaddy, including a 30% off coupon that we had available, it cost less than $15 for our vanity URL good for one year.  

There are a few different paths you can do from here: use Bitly, Rebrandly, Owly, and use a 301-redirect (when one URL automatically redirects to another website, usually as a subdomain or sub-folder).  

Let's focus on the first three paths: Bitly, rebrandly, & owly

  • Bitly allows you to add your vanity URL to their platform for free (with a limited monthly use of 500 links) or paid (with Bitly Enterprise).  The steps are very easily to follow to set it up and doesn't take more than 30 minutes to process in the system.
  • Rebrandly is similar to both Bitly and Owly but is much more simplified and therefore it is actually much more intuitive and user-friendly because of it.  You can add your own vanity URL for free and the amount of links you can use in unlimited.  What you pay for starts to be the advanced analytics and tracking that is optional at $99/month.
  • Owly, via Hootsuite, allows you to do this with Owly Pro for, wait for it, $49.99 a month (!).

Let's just stop there.  We are all small businesses and cost-savings is important to increase profits; so it's kind of a no-brainer why Skill Space is sticking with the first two options: either Bitly or Rebrandly (we will let you make that call yourself).

 

learn how to boost up your marketing with this simple trick.

 

how this will give your biz a marketing boost

Imagine the following scenarios:

  1. Using the main website link in a promotional material.
  2. Using a vanity URL that is shortened to include direct access to a specific website/link on the promotional material.
  3. Using the full permalink from the main website on the promotional material.

This scenario also applies with social media promotions.  Unfortunately in our case, skill-space.co is longer than bit.ly or some of the other examples in the right column, but it still provides value in two ways:

  1. sending visitors straight to the right page without a very long permalink as in the above example #3
  2. using your brand in one more way by boosting your marketing juice with a custom branded URL

Domain extensions to think about:

  • .co
  • .biz
  • .us
  • .info
  • .me
  • .one
  • .pro
  • .social
  • .buzz
  • .news
  • .media
  • .press
  • .tips

Tips for Choosing Your Vanity URL Name

  • Remove vowels: BuzzFeed took out their vowels to become a still legible and catchy bzfd.it
  • Replace letters with numbers where appropriate: 2 for to/too, 4 for for, etc
  • Get creative with extensions: Time has it easy getting Ti.me and Asana has it with Asa.na (which is actually using the extension for the country of Namibia)
  • Shorten your name: Behance.net shortened their vanity url to be.net
  • Your vanity URL should be less than 15 character.

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