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Summary:

When I noticed that bit.ly had a Pro version that enables custom short domains and that it was free, I just had to try it out. You have to submit your email address to be “considered” for the beta; I just received my access information.

Shorten & Share | bit.ly | a simple URL shortener

I like to test out freemium services at the free level for a while, and if they are really critical to what I do, I move up a notch or two to the Pro or Premium level; I’ll willingly pay for additional capacity and features. So when I noticed that bit.ly had a Pro version and that it was free, I just had to try it out. You have to submit your email address to be “considered” for the beta and I just received my access information.

What do you get in the Pro version that you don’t get with a regular bit.ly account?

  1. You get to pick a “custom short domain.” You first must register a new domain name. This means you can select something very short and custom, if it’s available. The example bit.ly gives is The New York Times using nyti.ms. The domain name has to be available, you must register it, and then you can set your DNS A Record to point to the IP address bit.ly provides. Or you can use a subdomain for your custom short domain by setting a CNAME in your DNS records, so you could have wwd.bit.ly or aliza.bit.ly, for example. Domain registration can take up to 24 hours to show up on bit.ly.
  2. You can set a domain to track in your dashboard. Just enter the root domain of your main site and bit.y will use it to track when visitors are shortening links for your site. For example, the New York Times’ short domain is nyti.ms, but the tracking domain would be nytimes.com. Your tracking domain can’t be the same one as the short domain, but the short domain can be a subdomain of your tracking domain.

Companies using bit.ly Pro short links include Pepsi (pep.si) and Foursquare (4sq.com). Pro (which is currently free) offers all of the features that bit.ly Free has: shortening and sharing links; custom hash tags; and individual link statistics pages. Other than the custom short domain and domain tracking, Pro isn’t any different. You can also integrate bit.ly Pro into your regular social dashboards like Tweetdeck and CoTweet.

There doesn’t seem to be a downside to going Pro with bit.ly, as long as it stays free. Of course, now I have to think of what custom short domain I’d like to create, register and use. Clearly this is a nice service for companies with established brands if they can get a cleverly abbreviated domain. For an individual, it is probably more of a novelty; it would be fun to get ali.za, but I don’t think I can get that. Or can I?

Have you gone bit.ly Pro?

Related content from GigaOM Pro (sub. req.):

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  1. An important thing to keep in mind if signing up for Bit.ly is that YOU CANNOT DELETE YOUR ACCOUNT. It’s impossible, they haven’t coded in the feature, they can’t do it even if you complain to tech support.

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    1. I expect many web services don’t provide the ability to close an account. I am interested to know why is it a problem with bit.ly?

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