Short domains (sometimes refered to as vanity domains) are all the rage. You'll see companies like New York Times (nyti.ms) and TechCrunch (tcrn.ch) using short domains as part of their social media and link sharing strategy. We recently registered our own short domain, avt.ar.com, in order to increase our brand awareness accross our social media platforms. It's pretty straight forward if you know what your doing. Below are the steps needed to get you up and running.
1. Find an available domain name
First, think of a few possible short domain names. The name should be reflective of your brand or product/service you provide. Remember, we're looking for a SHORT URL so choose something between 4-9 chars. Your most likely going to need to think of a few since I can almost guarantee your first pick will already be taken. To see what's possible, checkout this list of top-level domains. Some of the more popular ones that you can actually use are:
Once you have a couple names down, check if the domain already exists with one of the popular whois engines out there such as: http://whois.net. If it's available, buy it!
2. Setup your shotener service
As stated in the Requirements, we use bitly as our shortening service provider. They make it real easy to setup a custom short domain. First signup for free to bitly.com. Next, follow these instructions to associate your vanity domain with your bitly account.
3. Ensure proper link tracking
Of course your using google analytics to track your inbound traffic? (if you aren't, you must call us right away). That being case, we need to ensure your shiny new domain gets recorded correctly when passing back links to your website. To do this, go to your Account Settings > Advanced > Tracking Domain. Click Modify Tracking Domain Settings and add your website address here. For example, we set ours to www.avatarnewyork.com.
4. Be prepared to answer everyone's question: "Hey, how did you do that?"
Of course if you'd prefer to have us set it up for you give us a ring. We can also help you integrate your custom short domain into a full blown social media strategy.