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Set Up Branded Custom Short Domain URL For Your Website


If you are wondering why you should set up branded custom short domain for your website, then you are exactly the same person I was few years back. I have always been a curious fan of short URLs/Domains, like they look short and redirect to the original lengthy URL. I kinda love the way it works. When I saw this feature on other branded websites I decided to give it a try for our own blog/website. Of course, I had no idea how to implement it. I googled a lot regarding this and I came across a software/tool called YOURLS (which stands for Your Own URL Shortener).

We implemented this on our company website Slashsquare with the URL go.slashsquare.org. It was really good and it was working fine. But it was kinda hard for me because it’s not a signup/configure thing. We need to install YOURLS on our server to implement it. I was okay with Slashsquare, but when I wanted to use the same on other domains, I felt uncomfortable. Then I came across Bitly and it was easier than YOURLS.

Set Up Branded Custom Short Domain Using Bitly

Bitly is very easy to understand and implement. They also have browser extensions + supported WordPress plugins as well. So this is our best pick. They have a free plan and we’ll be using that.

First Part: Picking A Branded Custom Short Domain URL

Okay, now, you need to pick an awesome branded short domain name for your website. This is what we did, our blog URL is hellboundbloggers.com but we brand us as ‘HBB’ (HellBound Bloggers), so we decided to go with hbb.me for the custom short URL. Like this, we picked food.gy for FoodGravy, book.tf for BookWritten and so on.

We used GoDaddy for registering the domain name, thankfully, they have .me extension for registration. But I guess you all have this question now. Which ccTLD extension should I pick?

Now that is entirely up to your preference. But this is a small checklist which we usually follow:

  1. Whether it’s cheap? Because some of the ccTLDs are like crazy expensive and we don’t really want to invest a lot on this.
  2. Whether it’s a part of the brand name. Confusing? Take FoodGravy for example, we usually make sure the domain name is a keyword of what our brand is, so we made sure ‘Food’ is there, and then we picked the ccTLD .gy (which is for Guyana) but also it belongs to the FoodGravy brand name. Which makes sense for us – Food.gy = FoodGravy.

I hope you got the point. We recommend these domain registrars for the ccTLDs: GoDaddy, 101domain, and Name.com.

Now we have the short domain name to set up branded custom short domain using Bitly.

Second Part: Configuring Your Domain With Bitly

Go to Bitly.com and register a free account if you haven’t. Verify your email address, fill all the necessary basic information and save them all.

Now, go to “Settings” > “Advanced” tab.

Bitly Settings Option

Here you can find the options to set up your custom branded short URL. Click the link which says “Activate a Branded Short Domain for personal use.”

Branded Short Domain Options Bitly

Now, you need to enter the Branded Short Domain you purchased. In our case, hbb.me it is.

Set Up Branded Custom Short Domain

In order to enable this Branded Short Domain, you need to configure domain name service (DNS) settings for your domain. You can do this via your domain registrar account, just some basic modifications on your CNAME and A Record.

A Record: Point it to and (Updated)

If you are going to use a subdomain instead, say www.hbb.me, then you can use the CNAME record.

CNAME Record: Point it to cname.bitly.com

In our case, we did both. So that we can use both www.hbb.me and hbb.me for our short links.

Third Part: Editing DNS Records

Go to your GoDaddy account, migrate to the Domains section, or to the exact place where your short domain is and then click on “Manage DNS”.

Now go to the “DNS Zone File” tab. Here you have to edit your A Record and CNAME Record for setting up Bitly. It’s very simple. I added the screenshots for this for your convenience.

Here is how your A Record should be: (The DNS settings look may vary according to the domain registrar.)

Bitly Short URL DNS Records

Here is how your CNAME Record should be: (The DNS settings look may vary according to the domain registrar.)

That’s it! Did you forget your Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner? Go and have it. After that, go to your Bitly Custom Domain page and hit the button ‘Verify’.

Branded Short Domain Bitly Configured

Tada! That’s it. Now hbb.me is properly configured with Bitly. By any chance, if you get some errors, then there are two reasons for this:

  1. Either you entered the CNAME and A Record details wrongly. (or)
  • Your domain registrar needs some time to do the DNS work.

  • So do check these and click the ‘Verify’ button.

    Now you can go to the main dashboard, enter your desired URL, and it’ll automatically generate a Short URL with your branded custom domain name.

    Create Bitly Shortlink

    We also recommend using these two additional features: Root Redirect and Tracking Domain

    Branded Short Domain Root Redirect Tracking Domain Bitly

    You can find them in the ‘Advanced’ settings.

    WordPress And Bitly

    If you are a WordPress(.org) user, then you have this handy plugin called “WP Bitly“. It helps you to configure short URLs for your posts, pages, attachments, etc. You can use the PHP tag to display the short URL for each and every post. You need to provide them your Bitly OAuth Token.

    Original URL: https://hellboundbloggers.com/2016/01/set-up-branded-custom-short-domain-url-for-websites-63289/

    Short URL: http://hbb.me/1O4gqhf

    This article may look lengthy but this is indeed a simple procedure. I hope this article helped you to set up branded custom short domain for your website. If you have any queries or suggestions do kindly let us know in the comments below, we’ll be happy to help you.


    CEO and Founder of Slashsquare, Indian Blog Network and Web Consulting Media. HBB is a part of Slashsquare Network. I'm a Tech Blogger, Striving Entrepreneur, Atheist, and Proud Indian. Catch me on Facebook and Twitter.

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      • Ankush Goel

        Hey ! Thanks for this fantastic article. Now I can easily set custom short domain for my website.

      • Karan Bhardwaj

        HoHoHo, what a tutorial Pradeep buddy very useful, How did you find this trick buddy, if you have time then I want a case study behind this. I hope the case study will be a great lesson for newbies.

      • Ernest

        Waooh, This is really a nice tutorial. I have been searching for a method to create short domain url for my blog.

        Thanks for sharing.

      • Teach Matters

        Thanks for the article. We already knew about the bitly shortener but not about the branded shortname technique. For me tcrn.ch (TechCrunch) was the China version of techcrunch.com. Here I knew about the short name branded domain.

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