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January 6, 2010

URL Shortening Services Are Holding You Hostage – Fight Back!

One of the most useful tools to come along in recent years for online marketers is url shorteners.

There are sites where you can paste a long, ugly url into a form, and the site will give you a much shorter url to use in your emails, newsletters and promotions.

There are also scripts that you can install on your server, that allow you to generate your own shortened urls, which is what I prefer, due to the great control it gives you.

In-case you are not using the tiny urls, you’re probably losing a lot of sales and traffic. The benefits of using shortened urls typically include:

  • They allow you to conserve space when posting to micro- blogging platforms such as Twitter, where each of your posts is limited to a mere 140 characters.
  • They look more professional than long, unwieldy affiliate urls (especially if they have your own domain name in them). Longer urls can wrap to two lines in your emails, forcing many readers to copy and paste the pieces of the link before they can visit a recommended page. Many won’t jump though that hoop!
  • They allow you to log into a control panel and change where a particular link sends traffic without you having to track down all of the places where you have placed that link and manually swapping them out. This comes in handy if you are promoting a particular product, and due to whatever reason, you decide to promote a different product in the same category.

There are also times when affiliate programs change the software that power things, forcing you to change your affiliate links for a given product. If you use the right url shortener, you would merely need to log in to your control panel, click an edit button, change the destination link, and all of your links scattered across cyberspace now STILL point to where you want them to.

This is essential for ebooks, because once an ebook is in your customers’ hands you can’t update those links in most cases. Only ebooks that connect to the Internet each time that they are read (which most of MY customer don’t like) allow you to change links inside the ebook after it’s distributed.

There are literally dozens of third-party link shortening services. I’ve used several of them and they work great except that they control YOUR links. If they get any complaints, or simply decide to change their business model, they could kill off all your links instantly.

Premium, third-party url shortening services also hold you hostage. They charge you a monthly fee for extras, or for the ability to have more than a handful of urls on their platform. Some charge you extra if you generate more than a few thousand clicks – they penalize you for being successful.

If you stop paying for these premium services, they often shut off all of your links INSTANTLY. Once you have all those links floating around cyberspace (in ebooks, articles, ads, press releases, ezine editorials, etc.) you don’t want to just kill them off, so you’re STUCK often paying hefty fees, month after month.

I recently looked at one service that had the audacity to charge $97 per month to allow you to “white label” their third-party service, and use your own domain name with their service. Using your own domain name within shortened links is a great idea because it brands you and your domain. If properly configured, it also passes along “link love” from the search engines, and helps you to rank higher for your keywords.

However, paying a monthly fee is unnecessary, and therefore wasteful. Instead invest that money in another area of growing your business.

Here’s the better solution that I use…

I’ve installed an inexpensive link shortening script, that works just like those third-party hosted shorteners, on my OWN server. I paid less than $40 for this script AND I own it and can use it forever, on as many of my own domains as I want to (in-accordance-with the terms of their license).

Think about it. If you’re using one of those services that cost just $30 per month, you’ll save $360 per year using the solution that I use. You’ll save $1164 per year compared to that company charging $97 per month!

Heck I could even offer MY OWN url shortening service to my customers if I wanted to, using this same under-$40 script. I don’t because spammers love these services, and would harm my brand and the reputation of my domain name.

That’s another reason why you don’t want to use a third- party hosted url shortening service. Many ISP’s get so many complaints about emails containing urls from some of these services, that they filter against emails containing some of their domain names. It does no good to build a list of 50,000 if only 20% of your email gets through because of a poor decision that you made. You’re missing 80% of potential sales.

If you are the only one sending out from the domain name that your url shortening script resides on, and you market ethically, you should not have this problem of being blocked by spam filters.

I’ve just shared with you some things that most marketers using url shortening services never really give much thought. Now that you understand these things, you can set up links that will work for you long-term, brand you and your domains, cost you very little, and provide all of the benefits that led many marketers to use those third-party hosted solutions in the first place. The big difference will be that you’ll be in-charge of your links instead of being a hostage to those third-party url shortening services.


Willie Crawford is an Internet marketing consultant and super affiliate who has been marketing goods and services over the Internet for over 13 years. To closely track his promotional efforts and to cloak ugly affiliate links he recommends using a url shortening script hosted on you own domain. Willie’s favorite script is at: http://YourOwnShortUrl.com/

3 Responses to “URL Shortening Services Are Holding You Hostage – Fight Back!

    Short URL Names may cause some users not to click, they may think it is a virus or Phishing attack, etc…

    avatar Frank says:

    Nice article. If your running a WordPress blog, there’s a nifty plug-in called Pretty Links. It’s basically a link shortening software that’s totally free. It even tracks your clicks. It will also turn the links to no-follow if you want. Any one using WordPress should check it out.

    I am in agreement with the virus comment since I get emails w/dddtiny3.url & have no idea where they go. I want to see the Real Link Address and I think if viewers have this view option turned on they too will want to see the full link. When I do websites, I highlight text & put in the link I choose. I do the same with emails inside pages & also do the same with the affiliates links I choose to have on my sites. So if the viewer has the base bar visible, they can see where they are going. It certainly makes me feel safer when browsing or reading email to see the real link. I also open the emails to Properties & Message source to see what I am getting into – or not!

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