10 minute read

If there are four things that make marketers cringe, it’s when something is too wordy, too hard to recall, too bland and isn’t reinforcing the brand.

No wonder vanity URLs have become a major part of a smart digital strategy.

While using a vanity URL is nothing new, many marketing professionals still struggle to choose the perfect one – and effectively implement it within an integrated strategy.

Fortunately, there are proven strategies, tips and online tools to help your vanity domain attract the attention it so richly deserves!

What is a vanity URL and what’s the purpose?

A vanity URL is a unique web address specifically branded for marketing purposes.

Think of it as a long-term or short-term domain redirect that will get visitors to your key web pages. (For the techies out there, it’s a type of 301 permanent redirect. More on this below.)

It’s meant to replace a long, clunky URL leading to a page on your website with something that’s short, snappy, memorable and associated with your brand or service.

Another reason to use a vanity URL is to increase trust. If the link is branded, it provides greater transparency and increases user confidence that the link leads to a legitimate website. In fact, using a branded vanity URL can boost click-through rates by 39% vs. long URLs or generic short ones like bitly or t.co.

How can marketers use custom URLs?

To make a web page memorable in non-digital applications.

Okay, you can’t click a link on a billboard or tradeshow booth, in a radio spot, on a bathroom poster or in the print edition of a magazine ad. Having a short URL can ensure your CTA doesn’t go MIA! For example, www.myshorturl.com/offers is simple and easy to remember for commuters who hear it on the radio or see it on a passing billboard. And once you have a vanity domain like www.myshorturl.com you can create as many unique URLs as you need for each new campaign, offer, and so on.

To track campaign results.

Often, marketers will use one or more vanity URLs when running a large-scale advertising campaign. This makes it easier to track clicks, conversions and other performance metrics in a way that is directly attributable to the campaign vs. the general website.

To promote special events, promotions or offers.

A vanity URL can be tailored to an event or promotion to boost recognition and build connections. For example, set up www.MyBrandWinterSale.com so that it points to the winter sale offer page on your website.

To get people to landing pages.

Speaking of offers, landing pages are key conversion tools. Make sure they’re easy to find and don’t get lost in the shuffle. For example, www.MyCampaignName.com is a lot easier to remember and type than www.mybrand.com/offers/2024/december-campaign-20-percent-off.

To promote brand consistency.

Brands share links on many different platforms and in many different formats, but they want to present their links in a memorable and consistent way. For example, Facebook will shorten a link to fb.com, and Twitter/X will shorten a link to t.co. With a vanity domain you can use a short link like mybrand.com on both platforms, and present a more consistent and memorable brand.

Vanity URL best practices.

Whether you’re client- or agency-side, use these tips on how to create a vanity URL.

Keep it short and memorable.

It’s best to choose a vanity URL that’s approximately 8-10 characters. Ideally, the shorter the better. Alternatively, using a memorable phrase of 2-3 words can help with recall – especially if the person can’t visit your site immediately. And the more memorable your vanity URL, the more sharable it will be.

Make sure it’s relevant.

Ideally, your custom URL should make it clear what the page is about. It should be tied to your brand name, service, offer/promotion, content or business category. This will prevent people from having to do mental gymnastics to remember it and know what it's about.

Capitalize the first letter of each word.

This makes the URL easier to read and recall. URLs are generally not case-sensitive, which means that a web browser doesn’t see a difference between www.google.com and www.Google.com. or www.gOOgle.com. And using or not using capital letters in a URL won’t impact your SEO results, according to Google’s John Mueller, as long as you’re consistent. But for a human reading a vanity URL, www.SeeSpotRun.com is a lot easier to read than www.seespotrun.com.

Optimize vanity URLs for SEO.

Using current, well-researched keywords in a vanity URL is a perfect complement to your overall SEO strategy. A good keyword can also help with understanding and intent.

Avoid confusing characters.

Stay away from hyphens and symbols.

Remember to redirect to an active page after a campaign has finished.

It’s not uncommon for someone to put a promotional email or direct mail piece off to the side to review at a later date. Alternatively, an outdated QR code with an expired vanity/campaign URL could still be on a transit shelter, poster, or digital ad that wasn’t taken down.

Redirecting these URLs at the end of a campaign ensures the visitor will still land on a current (and relevant) page – instead of running into a dead-end thanks to a page error.

Don’t let vanity cloud your judgment.

Keep in mind... if you already have a really good, high-performing domain, it may be counterproductive to choose a new one just because you can. Stick with what’s working!

Setting up your vanity URL.

The initial setup of a new vanity URL is quite easy – especially if you’re a little bit technical or have IT support.

Following the guidelines above, choose your domain and purchase it through your preferred domain registrar (eg. GoDaddy). Most registrars provide the option of redirecting or forwarding traffic from your new domain to one target page. But if you need to manage multiple domains or links, you’ll want to use a URL-shortening service.

But there are three important steps that can be easily overlooked, and are vital to SEO and website security. And with the proper tools, you can do it yourself instead of involving your development or IT team...

3 key tips for vanity URL implementation.

1. First, find the right tool for you!

As mentioned earlier, a vanity URL is a type of permanent redirect where your ‘sexy’ new URL takes visitors to a page with a much longer, hard-to-remember URL. If you’re just pointing one vanity URL to one destination, you can set up URL forwarding with your registrar or DNS provider. If you’re a bit technical, you might be able to do this yourself. Or you can pull in someone from the development or IT team to set up the redirects for you.

But if you’re managing multiple vanity domains or many different URLs and destinations, you can do it yourself using a self-serve tool such as EasyRedir.

With EasyRedir, you (or IT) can set up your vanity domain in minutes. Once you’re set up you can create as many new vanity URLs as you need right in the dashboard. It saves you from getting IT involved every time you need to add or change a vanity URL, and makes it faster to solve embarrassing (and costly) “Page Not Found Errors.”

Plus, with EasyRedir, URL redirects can be updated over and over again – unlike other popular services, including Bit.ly, where any vanity URLs that are created are permanently fixed. If you need to change where a vanity URL points in Bit.ly (say after a campaign expires), you’d be out of luck.

2. Remember the SSL certificate!!!

To make sure your target web page gets visitors, the vanity URL must have a proper SSL certificate (ie. HTTPS, not HTTP). If not, your vanity URL will be blocked by most modern, secure web browsers, and your important web pages won’t get much traffic.

Fortunately, with EasyRedir, this function is also automated... ensuring it’s never overlooked.

3. Assess & evaluate.

The whole reason for setting up a vanity URL is to improve clickthrough rates. Regularly explore your analytics to see if your new URL is doing its job. If not, maybe you need to go back to the drawing board. Again, with EasyRedir, analytics reporting is built in.

Strut your stuff!

As a marketer or creative agency, once your vanity URL is in place, the true fun of promoting it begins! Best of luck.


Create and Manage Redirects or Vanity URLs” Wired Impact.

What is a Vanity URL and its Best Practices” Infidigit.

Vanity URL: What It Is & How to Get One” WordStream

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