To the typical user, URLs are a bewildering string of gibberish. Fortunately, we have link shortening services that can shrink those links to a manageable size. That’s crucial for printed matter (where the user may have to type in a URL manually) and for platforms like Twitter (where space is limited).
I’ve recently switched to SmartURL, a free link shortener similar to Bit.ly and TinyURL. Like the other services, it shortens links and allows you to create a custom alias (such as http://bit.ly/wordsonwords), but SmartURL includes an amazingly useful utility that catapults it far beyond the others.
Let’s say you have a book for sale on Amazon. You create a shortlink version of the URL that includes your affiliate code, and give it a convenient alias. (We’ll go with http://smarturl.it/mybook for this example.)
Customer #1 is in the US. They click on the link, and are whisked away to your main link at amazon.com.
Customer #2 is in Canada. They click on the same link, and arrive at amazon.ca — with your affiliate code for the Canadian store.
Customer #3 is in the UK. They wind up at amazon.co.uk with your UK affiliate code.
Customer #4 is in Uzbekistan. You’d prefer to direct them to a different retailer entirely, so the link brings them to uzbookistan.uz.
One easy-to-remember URL, multiple country-specific destinations.
Intrigued? Here’s how to set it up.
1. Compile a list of URLs for each region.
Don’t forget the affiliate codes, if applicable.
2. Enter your default URL.
Head over to smartURL.it and enter your main URL. This is the destination SmartURL will default to if it can’t determine which country a user is in.
3. Update the regional URLs with your affiliate codes, if needed.
When you enter the link, SmartURL will try to figure out regional destinations automatically. Go through each link and edit them to include your region-specific affiliate codes.
4. (Optional) Add custom destinations.
If there are any countries you would like redirected to another retailer, enter them by clicking the plus sign icon and typing the first few letters of the country into the name field.
5. (Optional) Choose an alias.
Personalize your shortlink by choosing a short, memorable alias. The shortest and most memorable aliases will likely be taken already, but with a little creativity, you can find a catchy one that’s easy to remember.
Click the “Create SmartURL” button at the bottom of the page, and your shortlink is ready to use.
SmartURL has several other features that may be of interest to advanced users, including Google Analytics integration and QR code generation, but it’s geolocation capabilities are a game changer.