It's probably a given that here at BudURL, we believe the link matters. But hey, we can talk about best practices and advanced strategies all day and still see some of the world's greatest brands making the most basic of mistakes when it comes to their links. In this post, let's take a step back and talk about the 4 fundamental, absolutely must-have rules to follow around linking.
Didn't know there were rules to follow regarding short links? Don't worry, the tips in this post are simple enough to implement today.
1. Brand your links.
If you don't use a branded custom domain for every link, you're absolutely missing an opportunity to build brand value and trust. Why? One, your audience knows you've vetted the content and stand behind it; two, your link is intertwined with your content- your brand should be part of that, not some generic shortener's brand!
Here's an example:
Nordstrom is literally a widely-used case study in branding excellence. And yet here they are missing out on a major branding opportunity!
Click here for a step-by-step guide to start branding your links.
2. Use pronounceable links.
We're talking about the back half of your (hopefully) branded link. Any shortener will generate a random mix of letters and numbers here, but if you take just a couple of extra seconds, you can make your link more compelling and improve your aethestic while you're at it.
Airbnb uses a branded link with a nice pronounceable suffix that is related to the content and makes the whole tweet easier to skim and quickly digest. In contrast to:
Points for using branded links, but the back half is a mouthful! How much better would hotelsdot.co/vacation-goals look here?
Learn more about using links on various social media channels.
3. Protect your click stats.
We hammer on this often, but we still see it daily: great brands using a generic shortener that publishes their stats for all to see. Giving your competition a crystal-clear look into your campaign performance is not ideal, and many organizations don't even know they are doing it.
Here's what we mean - we'll use the Nordstrom link from rule #1 as an example. Try adding a plus sign to the end of the link: bit.ly/2s2wfEG+
What have we here? Just detailed information on Nordstrom's click-through rate, referral traffic and audience demographics, available for anyone to see! At BudURL, we hear from clients every day on how important data privacy is to them - which is why we require a verified account to view any link data whatsoever.
Click here to read a detailed case study on privacy in retail. Also, for finance and healthcare firms, this rule is non-negotiable: click here to read more about linking best practices for highly regulated organizations.
4. Don't use case-sensitive links.
This one may be surprising- most generic shortened links are case-sensitive, meaning they'll direct to a completely different place if a single letter is in a different case. You can probably guess that could potentially lead to disaster!
A quick example from Whole Foods - using a generic case-sensitive link to a recipe video:
What if that link gets mistyped and that "m" on the end gets capitalized? Give it a shot: http://bit.ly/2r7IiOM
Spoiler alert: womp womp, broken link. Also, someone with malicious intent could create a similar link with just a different case and trick your audience into going to a phishing site or worse. Not okay!
Links created with BudURL are not case-sensitive, which comes in handy on platforms like Instagram, where links in posts that aren't sponsored are disabled, leading to frequently hand-typed links.
Do you have questions about any of the 4 fundamental rules of linking? We're here to help, even if you're not using BudURL! And if you're looking for continued education on link management excellence, here's some additional recommended reading:
A big thank-you to Jordan Shuey, BudURL Client Success Analyst and our resident NFL statistics extraordinaire for contributing to this post!