8 ways to increase click-through rate with branded links


Before sitting down to write a completely different article, I decided to do my usual research. I thought it would be interesting to find out how to increase the click-through rate of our next post. Not surprisingly, I found endless articles about how to improve the click-through rate of your social posts, emails and advertisements. However, one thing did strike me, none of them mentioned how the link that’s being shared can increase click-through rate.

At Rebrandly, we’re the link management experts so I thought it would be a good idea to write about how you can use links to improve your click-through rate.

But before we get into it let’s talk about what exactly click-through rate is.

What is click-through rate?

Click Through Rate, or CTR, is the number of times a link is clicked divided by the number of times it’s viewed. This is expressed as a percentage.

increase click through rate

In other words, if your link is viewed ten times but only clicked once, your click-through rate is 10%. Got it? Great!

But why is click-through rate so important?

Let’s say you’ve created a ground-breaking piece of content, which will change the lives of those who read it. It can only make an impact if people actually read it…

You could be the next Shakespeare, but if no one ever reads what you’ve written there isn’t much point. Whether you add your link to a social media post, an email or a paid advertising campaign, you need to make sure people click on it.

How to increase click-through rate by optimizing your links

Let’s talk about different ways you can increase the click-through rate of the links that you’re sharing – starting with the three elements of a link. The domain, the top-level domain and the URL slug. You can see the breakdown below.

increase click through rate

So with this in mind, here are eight ways to increase your click-through rate by optimizing the links you share online.

1. Include your brand name in the link

Let’s begin with the first part of your link, which is the domain. When sharing links online it’s imperative that you include your brand name in the link. You may be thinking, “Of course my brand name is on my links!” But many people use link shortening tools when posting on social media or sending emails. They do this simply to make their links shorter. What they don’t realize is that if you use a link shortening tool most of the time your domain – and brand name – will no longer be visible.

This is a huge missed opportunity for brand visibility and exposure. Take a look at the tweet shared below by Shopify. The first version shows how the tweet uses a generic short link to share content. The image below shows how it could have looked with a branded link.

increase click through rate

Much better! Why limit your brand exposure by using a generic URL shortener?

The same is also true of offline marketing campaigns. Using a generic link shortener may seem like a good idea to keep your URLs brief, but it makes for a very forgettable link.

Take the picture below as an example. In this link, there’s no mention at all of which zoo it is or its brand name. Another missed opportunity.

San Diego Zoo Signage Missed Opportunity

Using a branded link tool like Rebrandly means that you can use your own domain and keep your brand name in the links that you’re sharing.

Branded links, also known as vanity URLs, have been found to increase click-through rates by up to 39%. This occurs because of the increased trust viewers experience when they see a brand’s name in the link. And even if viewers don’t know your brand, you will still build brand awareness by including your name on your links.

Many spammers have taken to using generic URL shorteners to direct people to phishing sites. By using your own domain for your short links, you’re showing viewers that this link is trustworthy and will direct them to relevant content – rather than spam.

Your Brand on Your Links

2. Use a unique Top Level Domain

After your domain, the next key element of your link which can impact the click-through rate is your Top-Level Domain. A top-level domain, or TLD, is the part of your URL that comes after your domain name. For example, .com is a TLD, .net is a TLD and so on.

There are now tons of TLDs available. That’s not to say that there’s anything wrong with the more traditional ones like .com. However, some of the new TLDs can help your link stand out and grab people’s attention. This can help with your CTR.

For example, if your brand writes about the latest tech trends, you could use the .tech TLD to share links to your content. If you’re an online retailer, you could share links with .store to give further clarity about where your link will lead.

3. Include a keyword

The last part of your link is the URL slug. That’s the part that comes after the slash. Most marketers know that one of the key places to include your keyword is in the URL of your page. But most URL shorteners don’t allow you to choose what your URL slug looks like. Even with tools that do allow you to customize your URL slug, the ideal keyword is often already taken.

Branded links allow you to choose the keyword that you would like to use. Since you’re using your own domain as we discussed above, you won’t have the issue of your chosen keyword being taken as long as you haven’t used it before yourself.

You can find out more in-depth information about the SEO relevance of using a keyword in your branded links here and here.

4. Consider link length

Now that we’ve optimized the three sections of our URL, it’s time to look at some other aspects that can affect the click-through rate of your links – like the length, for example.

Long URLs, don’t get me started on long URLs! Having too many words in your URL significantly decreases the readability of a link. They can be truncated or auto-shortened when posted to social media sites – or just more difficult to read.

Having a difficult to read link means that viewers will be less willing to click it – and this kind of ruins the first three steps. Simplicity is key to attracting and maintaining interest online.

Moz summed it up nicely in the image below. So even though you have the freedom to add keywords and chose a unique custom domain when using branded links, don’t get too carried away and make sure to keep it short.

Link click through rate

5. Use https:// at the beginning of your links

SSL Increase Click Through Rate

Another key part of your links that can help increase click-through rate is one that you may not give as much thought to. The http:// or https:// that appears at the start of your links.

Don’t worry, it’s not as confusing as it sounds. You may have heard that https:// before a URL means that the website is ‘secure’. But what does that really mean?

Https:// is added to a domain when it has been granted SSL certification and is important for building trust in your brand’s links. SSL certification is proof that the connection between the website’s server and your browser is safe and encrypted.

Aside from the extra security of using https:// on your site, it also gives you an SEO boost. Back in 2015 Google announced that having https:// can push you ahead of a competitor trying to rank for the same keyword. According to Blue Corona, nowadays 40% of Google’s page one organic search results feature a https:// website.

All paid Rebrandly users automatically have SSL certification for their branded links.

6. Capitalize first letters and use hyphens

Capitalizing the first letter of each word in your URL can make it much easier for humans to process. The easier it is for them to comprehend your link, the more likely they are to click.

Let’s put it to the test. If a media company called ‘Breaking News Reports’ wanted to share a link to their latest news. Which of these URLs is easier to read?



The second version allows you to process the information much more quickly and thus increase the likelihood for you to click through to the page. Remember when people scroll through social media you only have a few seconds to grab their attention!

7. Keep your promise

When you share a social post, send an email or run an advertisement make sure that what you’ve promised your viewers is what they get. Use your branded link’s keyword to give people an accurate idea of what they’ll find if they click on your link.

If every time you clicked on a link from our brand it brought you to unrelated content, it wouldn’t be long before you stopped clicking our links altogether. (Don’t worry though, Rebrandly would never do that ).

8. Make Them Memorable

increase click through rate

One of the coolest things about branded links is that they are memorable. They can be shared offline, or even verbally over the radio, during a presentation or when speaking on the phone! This isn’t just for the sake of being cool, it’s a tool for increasing click-through rate. When links are memorable, it’s easier for people to tell each other about them, share them and come back to them.

Think back to the above example of the zoo using a short link on one of its signs. If it optimized this sign by using a branded link, it would mean that people could remember this URL much easier. Thus, they would see an increase in traffic to that page.

You find some other ideas of how you can use branded links for your offline marketing here.

Hope This Helps!

We looked at the three elements of a link: the domain, the TLD and the URL slug and how they can increase the click-through rate of content you’re sharing. We then looked at other methods and best practices for links like link length, https, memorability and more.

The best thing about everything we’ve covered is that it’s so simple to implement. If you’re already using short links, then set up a branded domain and start using branded links instead. Once the initial set up is complete, your processes can remain the same but you’ll get the benefit of an increased click-through rate.

If you follow the steps in this article with your branded links, you’ll be increasing your click-through rate in no time. If you’d like to get started using branded links right now you can sign up for a Rebrandly account. Rebrandly.Rocks/Free-Signup. (Don’t worry, this link will bring you where I promised. )

Here’s some of the other articles that I read through while researching how to increase click through rates across different mediums that I think you’ll enjoy:

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • How to increase click-through rate
  • Branded links for click-through rate
  • What is click-through rate
  • How to increase the CTR of links

Originally Posted: June 6th, 2017.
Post Updated: June 7th, 2018.



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Maurizio Tiberi
COO at Rebrandly. Directing, administering, and coordinating internal operational activities of the organization in accordance with policies, goals, and objectives established by the CEO.