What’s this all about?All the details
This is a website all about vanity URL shorteners. Also known as a custom URL shorteners, custom link shortening services, link shorteners, private URL shorteners, private label URL shorteners and closed link shorteners, these services work similar to services such as TinyURL and Bitly and allow users to shorten very long links into shorter ones that are better suited for e-mailing, instant messaging and for services such as Twitter that restrict character counts. You can read more about URL shortening at Wikipedia.
That said, it’s important to note that this site is not about general, standalone URL shortening services such as TinyURL, bit.ly or snurl.com. Unlike most vanity URL shorteners, these services allow anyone to create short links to any URL on the Internet. For a URL shortener to be included on this website, it needs to be designated for use only by a specific webiste, organization or group of people. A URL shortener listed here may also be open for use by the public, but restricted only for use with a company's service, app or other special functionality.
So what’s on this site? We maintain a comprehensive, ever growing list of vanity URL shorteners, sorted by company name (if we’re missing one you’re aware of you can always contribute it). You can browse this list by selecting a letter from the navigation menu above. If a company has more than one vanity URL shortener, we list each one separately, so you may see the same company listed multiple times. You can also learn more about the advantages of vanity URL shorteners and how to get your own below.
Links produced by vanity URL shorteners often look a bit strange. They often make use of country specific TLDs and have a random string of numbers and letters after them. For example, the short URL, which redirects to this page, uses the United States specific extension .us and the random string "pK0O0".
Why have one?The advantages
Brand your links
Having a vanity URL shortener allows you to reinforce your brand every time you link to content on social media or other public forum, and not advertise someone else's brand as you do with public, generic URL shorteners.
Privacy and security
Most public URL shorteners allow anyone to access a variety of statistics and data about who's clicked on your links. Having your own URL shortener also allows you to control who can generate links that are associated with your brand as well as redirect links if needed.
Stand out from the crowd
Let's face it. Having a vanity URL shortener just looks cool. It also shows that your organization is progressive and understands social media. Your posts will also stand out because they won't have the same old URL shortener domains that everyone else uses.
Want your own?Expart advice
Think of a domain
This step takes some creativity. In order to get your domain short enough to be effective as a URL shortener, you may want to consider these tips:
- Removing vowels: This is an effective way to shortener your organization's name and still making it easy to understand. In general, don't remove vowels at the beginning of words, though. Example: Nissan uses nssn.co
- Use initials: This tip works for personal or organization URL shorteners. You can use initials for one or more words or, if it works, all of them. It's also worth considering leaving the most recognizable part of your name spelled out. Sony Pictures Entertainment uses spe.com.
- Abbreviate or shorten: Use common abbreviations to make things shorter or just chop off some letters of your name.
- Replace: Consider using letters or numbers in place of words. For example, "4" can be used for the "for" sound in a name.
- Consider alternate extensions: If your top choice isn't available, consider using a country code TLD (ccTLD) such as .to or .co. These extensions are easily obtained and generic enough for almost any organization to use.
- Use alternate extensions "hacks": Many country code extensions can be used to help form your company name by using the characters before and after the dot to form a shortened for similar sounding version of your name. For example, .in, the TLD for India, is good for names ending in the "en" or "in" sound. .es, Spain's TLD, is good for plural names ending in "-es". This method can create some clever domains and also have the advantage of using the domain extension itself as part of the word or words you're trying to convey. Example: South Park Studios uses cart.mn to recreate, in a shortened form, the name of one of its most well known characters.
- Don't use your company name: URL shorteners can also be formed from product names, words common to your industry, slogans or even slang. Examples: Netflix at one time used movi.es and BarkBox, which supplies dog treat gift packages, use the URL shortener ruv.me.
- Combine methods: Use one or more of the above methods above.
- Use an online search tool: One great tool for coming up with good domains for URL shorteners is Domai.nr, which lets you type in a full company name and the site suggests variations of it using numerous alternate extensions and other methods mentioned here and even links you to where you can purchase the domains (this is especially handy for country TLDs). The site also has a handy iPhone app.
- Browse our list for inspiration: You'll likely get some great ideas just look at what others have done!
Once you've found a domain you like, you'll need to register it. Many extensions are available from companies you already use for domain registration — such as Hover. If it's not available, you'll need to locate a registrar who handles the domain extension in question. One good way to do this is to use Domai.nr, which links directly to registrars for many domain extensions. If you can't find a link here, try the Wikipedia list of TLDs.
It's also important to note that some countries only allow registrations on what's call the third level — .co.uk for example. This means you couldn't register, for example, domain.uk.
Some countries place restrictions on who can register domains with its country TLD — though this is becoming less and less common as countries realize the revenue opportunities from selling domains worldwide.
Another consideration is that some countries also restrict what content can be used their TLDs, so if you intend in shortening content that might be in violation of these laws, you'll need to find another TLD.
Wikipedia entries on TLDs typically include information on all these restrictions in the right sidebar of each TLD's entry.
Get everything hooked up
Some services, such as Bitly, let anyone create a vanity URL shortener. All you need to do is register the domain and make a few changes to the domain configuration. The downside of this approach, however, is that if a user visits your shortened domain without a directory path on the end, they will be directed to a Bitly branded page. Your link stats will also be public if you use this service. Bitly also offers a paid version, but it's pretty pricey.
If you're comfortable with Web hosting and setting up simple PHP and mySQL applications, there are several free scripts you can use to set up a URL shortener on your own server, giving you much more control. Our favorite is YOURLS, but Lessn More is another good free option. If you're willing to pay, consider Pretty Link Pro or these low cost solutions on Code Canyon.
URL shorteners typically work by redirecting users using a special server response commonly referred to as a "301." This tells the browser that the resource at your short URL has been permenantly moved to the full URL's location. This is key to search engine optimization as it ensures that search engine spiders won't think the shortener URL is the "real" URL to the page.
Launch and use
Now that you're all set up, you're ready to use your new URL shortener. It's usually a good idea to announce, on any of your social media services you plan to use the shortener on, that you'll be shortening links through a custom domain form now on just so users feel comfortable clicking the links. For consistency, use your URL shortener whenever possible, rather than mixing your own custom domain with other generic ones. If your organization has multiple people shortening links and posting them, be sure to provide access and training to everyone involved.
You may also want to consider joining 301works, a free service from the Internet Archive that works to create a database of all shortened URL mappings. The service imports all of your short URLs and stores them and will also take over your URL shortening domain if you decide to close it, ensuring links posted throughout the Internet continue to work.