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Summary:

As Twitter has rapidly risen to dominate the real-time web, related applications and services have also come to prominence; many in the field of URL shortening. Foremost amongst these is bit.ly, which today released a Pro edition of the service.

As Twitter has rapidly risen to dominate the real-time web, related applications and services have also come to prominence; many in the field of URL shortening. Foremost amongst these is bit.ly, which today released a Pro edition of the service.

bitly.Pro is, in essence, a “white-label” edition of the public service, where a short URL such as http://bit.ly/bHRDfP can now be replaced by one with a custom domain, such as http://imrn.me/bHRDfP.

As well as the ability to utilise a custom domain, bitly.Pro also provides a dashboard view, enabling users to view analytics on all the links shared from your custom domain. I put bitly.Pro through its paces today by registering my new domain — imrn.me. Setting up the service is surprisingly easy; here’s how I did it:

  1. I registered imrn.me with GoDaddy.
  2. I changed the domain’s nameserver settings to point at my own MediaTemple-hosted server.
  3. I altered the DNS records (A and CNAME) for the new domain to verify and redirect to bit.ly.pro.
  4. I logged into bitly.Pro with my standard bit.ly account details to link both account histories.
  5. Used the standard bit.ly bookmarklet to generate my first custom shortened URL: http://imrn.me/90mM9Q

All in all, the entire setup process took me around 10-15 minutes and the new real-time analytics dashboard will prove useful in tracking the “virality” of my shared links. Sadly, your shortened URLs still share their namespace with other bit.ly users, so your domain will still be suffixed by a five-character reference.

However, other than vanity and analytics, there are good reasons for employing a custom domain for your shortening your URLs.

Why use a custom domain?

In recent months, there’s been much discussion on the impact short URLs are having on the long-term stability of the web; notably by weakening the web with centralised hyperlinks, reducing transparency, introducing unwelcome interstitials and providing opportunities for phishing attacks.

Delicious creator Joshua Schacter suggests some publishers should offer their own shortening services to mitigate some of the negative circumstances of shortening.

Indeed, we’ve recently seen brands such as Flickr, TechCrunch, WordPress and Google offer short URLs such as flic.kr, tcrn.ch, wp.me & goo.gl.

For such prominent brands, content publishers and even prolific Twitter users, bitly.Pro offers a useful form of transparency and trust to users clicking on shortened links.

Though the service doesn’t address the problem of centralization of links, it’s a step in the right direction. For those who demand more control, installing a hosted URL shortening app may be more appropriate.

Related GigaOM Pro Research: Report: The Real-Time Enterprise

  1. I signed up for Bitly.pro yesterday as well, but didn’t have an existing regular bit.ly account.

    Although bitly pro gives you custom urls as you described, it seems to only show the last 60 mins of activity.

    It was only after I signed into http://bit.ly with my ‘pro’ account details, did I see a decent amount of analytics around my custom short urls…

    Thought I’d mention this :-)

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  2. Hey Guy, I’m seeing 24 hours for the ‘summary’ and ‘details’ part of my dashboard view, but ‘origin’ and ‘referrers’ seem to be locked to 60 minutes.

    The service does seem a little unfinished and not quite as rich as the regular bit.ly service. Indeed, it appears to be more of a ‘feature’ than a product…albeit a very useful feature!

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  3. Does Bitly.pro work with modern, non-display (web 0.0) domains, which are not conventionally hosted, functioning instead to push data down into the DNS system (NAPTR records)?

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  4. Thanks for the write up! The service while just launched is going over quite well. All feedback should be sent to the support+pro @ bit . ly e-mail for fastest service.

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  5. Thanks for the heads up. I just bought a four letter domain and tried it. Now I am going to use my name as the shortener.

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  6. If you have a wordpress site you can use the Pretty Link plugin to give you shortened URLs based off of your site URL. These may be at times longer than the bit.ly links, but probably short enough to work for Twitter. Here is the link: http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/pretty-link/

    They even have a pro version which I have not used, but I saw the video and it looks interesting. Here is the link: http://prettylinkpro.com/ [note I am in no way affiliated with them]

    Another possibility (at least with WordPress) is to set the permalinks to /%postname%/ and your category base to c and yoru tag base to t. If you then use relatively short post, page, category and tag slugs then you will will have decently short URLs that again you can use in Twitter and the like (you’ll just have to slightly shorten your Twitter message).

    What’s more, if you make sure that your slug is keyword rich then there is the added bonus of a keyword rich backlink which points directly towards your website.

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  7. [...] How American health care killed my father 2.) Create short URLs with your own domain 3.) 50 free UI and web design wireframming kits 4.) Amazing retro [...]

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  8. Curious, why did you not just make the A and cname from GoDaddy’s control panel to point to Bit.Ly pro?

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  9. Why is it that http://pep.si goes to pepsi.com but http://imrn.me goes to bit.ly?

    We have http://411ny.org which we want to go to http://411nework.org but is goes goes to bit.ly as well.

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