Anyone who’s read any of our articles before will know that we don’t believe using short URLs is the best way to create, share and manage links. We follow the branded link way of life.
Branded links let users connect their own domain (in other words, not a generic domain) to create custom short links.
For example, when you use a generic link shortening tool like Goo.gl or Bitly, you’ll create a link that looks something like short.ly/GH592O. On the other hand, when you use a branded link tool like Rebrandly you can create links with your own domain that look something like: Company.news/updates
Don’t get me wrong, we understand why people use short URLs. They’re quick and easy to use. (Well in fact, branded links are just as quick and easy). But the speed and ease of generic short links come at a cost. I’m not referring to a financial cost, but rather something important you have to give up: Link Ownership.
When you create a link with a generic link shortening tool you don’t really own the links you’re creating. I’ve compiled a few examples of the limitations of using a generic link shortening tool and highlighted the importance of link ownership.
1. You’re Advertising The Tools’ Brand, Not Yours
In the past I’ve compared this concept to a t-shirt company: everyone who wears their products are proudly displaying the company’s logo on their chest. For generic link shortening tools, the beauty of their business is that their users promote their brand for them with every link created.
This is a great way for the link shortening tool to grow brand awareness and acquire more users. While this is a great promotion strategy for their business, it’s not so great for your business.
Instead, it means you’re missing out on a big opportunity to showcase your brand with the links you share.
Using your own domain on the links you share gives creates extra brand visibility and when someone else shares your link you’ve got your own ambassadors spreading the good word. And maybe you can start using your own custom t-shirt as well.
2. Most Generic Link Shortening Tools Won’t Allow Editing or Deletion of Links
I’m one of those people who likes the keep their tech clean. I archive all emails that I’m finished with, my desktop icons are carefully arranged, even the order that I open the applications on my laptop every morning is important to me. If I couldn’t edit a short link that I’d made a mistake with or even more infuriating, if I couldn’t delete a short link I’d created as a test, the cluttered dashboard would annoy me to no end.
Most generic link shortening tools won’t allow you to make any changes to your links, seriously limiting the real control you have over them. Check out this video that highlights the differences between branded and generic short urls.
3. Some Don’t Allow You to Create Multiple Links With the Same Destination
It’s common practice with generic link shorteners to only allow you to create one short link per URL, which can cause some obvious pains for you when it comes to click tracking.
Let’s say you wanted to track which promotion strategy is working best for bringing visitors to your landing page. You’re putting a link on Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin and want to figure out which platform is bringing you the most visitors. You can see that this landing page has 1,000 views but it’s much more difficult to see where those visitors came from.
By having the option to create 4 different short links, one for each platform that all link to the same page you can easily identify which platform has been brought the most traffic to your website.
But aside from tracking maybe you just want to create multiple links each with their own message or slightly customized URL slug, And that’s cool too. You don’t have to justify yourself to us!
4. You Can’t Move Your Links to Another Service
Anyone who’s ever been stuck in a contract with their phone package, internet provider or even gym membership will tell you that it SUCKS to be stuck using (and sometimes even paying for) a service you don’t like.
Whichever link shortening tool you use becomes the hub where all of the links that you create and share live. If your needs change over time or if you’re just not happy with the tool you’re using anymore it’s often the case that you have to leave all your short links and analytics behind and sign up to a new tool.
When you create branded links with a custom domain you own the domain and thus you own the links created with it. This gives you the flexibility to control where your links live.
5. If The Link Shortener Tool Goes Out of Business You Lose Your Links
There are some big generic link shortening tools out there that most people are familiar with but there are a ton of lesser known ones as well. The harsh reality is that tools we use every day sometimes go out of business. Take for example the once popular generic link shortening tool Cli.gs.
According to Mashable UK Cligs had tens of thousands of users and redirected tens of millions of links every month, but in October 2009 they announced that they were shutting down. They posted this message on their blog at the time.
On Sunday, 25 Oct 2009 at 12:00:00 GMT, the service will stop accepting new short URLs and will stop logging analytics.
The forwarding data will be retained so that forwarding can continue for at least till the end of November; after that, there are no guarantees as to how long the service will continue to forward the short URLs to their destinations….Shortly (in a few days), I’ll be deploying a mechanism to export your data. It is almost done and just needs a bit more testing before I’m comfortable releasing it.
So the tens of thousands of Cligs users lost the dashboard where all of their links lived, they could no longer record analytics and their redirects were going to stop working after a month!
Given that the average person can share up to 2,600 links a year that could be a lot of lost information and a big setback for the companies and individuals that were using the Cligs tool. Since these links are connected to the Cligs account and use the Cligs domain there’s not much that can be done to salvage all of the work already put into their customers’ accounts. Think of how much stress these Cligs users would have been spared if they’d used their own domain.
So What Can Be Done?
At Rebrandly, we want everyone to have complete control over the links they create and share. Using your own domain gives you the freedom to create and manage links the way you want. You don’t need to worry about things like URL slug availability or making mistakes that can never be corrected.
You can create numerous links leading to the same page and one of the coolest benefits, in my opinion, is the option to edit and delete the links you’ve created if needed. These are your links on your domain!
If you’re interested in adding branded links to your marketing stack you can get started for free with Rebrandly. Let us know what you think in comments and enjoy the control over your links.
- Why You Need to Add This Simple Tool to Your Marketing Stack
- Domain Reputation of Links
- Branded Links vs Short Links
This Article is About:
- Generic Link Shortening Tool
- Generic URL Shortening Tool
- Link Ownership
- Link shortening tool
Originally Posted: July 4th, 2017
Last Updated: January 31st, 2019