There are many different ways you can actually set up and maintain URL redirects. This set of options includes the previously mentioned build-it-yourself model, along with a variety of external service providers who can set up and serve redirects for you.
Build & Manage the Infrastructure Yourself
With this option, you have a lot of control over your redirects and can highly customize the functionality to your specific requirements. It does create a significant need for management and delivery to the rest of your organization, which can be challenging for some IT departments, in terms of budget and staff implications. They might prefer to just pay a provider and stay focused on their core business, but for large organizations with deep IT capabilities and capacity, this is a viable option.
Access Redirect Services From a Domain Registrar
If you’re already using a domain registrar like GoDaddy or Namecheap, and you’re also using their hosted DNS service, you could take advantage of their add-on services for URL redirects and simply stick to a single provider. That streamlines things and many domain registrars do have this type of offering.
The challenge here is that the services are not typically comprehensive or user-friendly because they’re not the core service that domain registrars offer. As a result, the URL redirect offerings from domain registrars aren’t built to support heavy traffic volumes and they don’t automatically handle SSL certificates. And you can forget about an easy-to-use management dashboard or the ability to grant access to someone to manage your URL redirects without also granting them management oversight of your DNS and domain registrations.
This is really an option only for the smallest businesses and single proprietorships. Larger businesses will run into issues and should consider different options.
Access Redirect Services From a DNS Provider
Some DNS providers (DNS Made Easy, Dyn) offer URL redirect services, but some don’t. It’s worth checking with your provider to see if you can simply add-on these services to your account. They’re usually able to handle higher traffic volumes which make them a better fit than domain registrars for medium-and-large size businesses.
However from a redirect point-of-view, DNS providers have some of the same drawbacks as registrars because, again, this is an add-on service and not their core offering. Their management interfaces are almost never optimized for redirects. They’re optimized for DNS (as you might expect) and we have yet to find one that automatically handles SSL certificates. Plus, granting someone access to manage URL redirects also means they have access to manage DNS.
So, this option is more fulsome than a domain registrar, but far from a full-service option and really only works for those in IT. It won’t work for those across the larger enterprise.
The bottom line: Proceed with care and know what you’re getting and not getting.
Access Redirect Services From a Link Shortener
Some of the link shorteners that offer URL redirect services can handle higher traffic volumes. This is what you’d expect considering their core business focus. Many can automatically handle SSL certificates as well. From this perspective, they are a step up from both a domain registrar and a DNS provider.
The challenges here are familiar ones though. They are not optimized for large numbers of redirects, their dashboards are built not for redirects but for link shortening, and fundamentally, their services aren’t suitable for enterprise IT teams or needs. This is an option that might do the job for a marketing team if they’re willing to work around a bit of a clunky redirect interface. But again, it’s buyer beware.
Work With a Dedicated URL Redirect Service
Unlike domain registrars, DNS providers and link shorteners, a dedicated URL redirect service is focused on one thing only. They are most comparable, from a functionality, robustness and customization point-of-view, to the build-it-yourself option. Except in this case, the service is pre-built and available on-demand.
A good URL redirect service should be built to deliver to the needs of the enterprise and the teams within it. It should have a smooth and simple user interface, and great customer service and support to back it up.
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