Discover the benefits of custom short links and how using a service like YourLS can transform your online presence.

By now, most of you have probably encountered short URLs, particularly on social media platforms. Services like and TinyURL are prevalent on Twitter and Facebook. These services take the typical long URLs you see in the address bar while browsing the Web, and converts them into shorter links that are easier to handle. You can even make custom short links, which further increase the memorability of the shortened link. However, if you’ve used these services, you’re likely aware that many of their best features are hidden behind a paywall. After all, servers aren’t free.

Due to these paywalls, many people are unaware of the benefits that such services can offer. Not only are they advantageous in a business context, but they can also be incredibly useful for personal use.

Luckily, you don’t have to pay for these services directly if you’re already paying for web hosting. Here at, I use Dreamhost to host this site. I pay for unlimited hosting, which allows me to connect multiple domains to the same service, offering significant value. Since I’m already paying for hosting, I don’t need to incur additional charges to run a short link service. I do, however, need to pay for the domain name, which, in my case, is (tbg are my initials, and bz is both the country code for Belize and an abbreviation of my childhood nickname “Berzerkly” — oh so clever…) Those domain charges amount to about $30 per year, mostly for a registered agent fee since I don’t reside in Belize. For these unique, country-specific domains (or gTLDs—geographic top-level domains), I use, which handles everything seamlessly.

Regarding the actual software, we are fortunate to have a robust and entirely open-source system called YourLS (Your Link Shortener). YourLS provides a comprehensive and robust solution for running a short link service and comes with numerous excellent plugins that extend its functionality.

For me, there are four main benefits of using custom short links personally. I will list these in order of personal usefulness:

  1. Memorability: Transform URLs into easily remembered keywords
  2. How often do you have to search for links to things to share them? Consider profile links, payment links, map locations, etc. Sometimes, these links (especially map links) can be lengthy and practically impossible to remember. With custom short links, you only need to recall the slug, a keyword you set. The slug is the part after the slash, as in, where “linkedin” is the slug. You can make these as short as you like. For example: a) directs you to a Facebook Messenger conversation with me b) takes you to my Instagram profile c) leads you to my PayPal profile
  3. As you can see, this can be quite useful. Remembering “pay” is simpler than It’s worth noting that short slugs also create more straightforward and scannable QR codes. Take for example the two QR codes below. Both are Google Maps links to the Capital Square in Richmond, Virginia. The link on the left is to, while the link to the right is the long Google Maps link:

  1. Complete Control: The Flexibility of Running Your Own Short Link Service
    Operating your own short link service, like YourLS, grants you full control over your links. This flexibility provides several benefits:
  • Customized Keywords: You can select specific keywords for your short links, ensuring they align with your brand and content. This makes your links more memorable and relevant to your audience.
  • Editable Destination URLs: If you need to modify the destination URL for any reason, you can easily do so without creating a new short link. This is especially helpful if you update your content or move it to another location.
  • Link Expiration: You can establish expiration dates for your short links, making them perfect for time-sensitive content or promotions. This helps keep your marketing efforts current and relevant.
  • Click Data: Running your own short link service allows you to track click data, providing valuable insights into your audience’s engagement and preferences. This information can be used to inform your marketing strategies and optimize your content for maximum impact.
  1. Branding and Personalization
    While this may not be as beneficial on a personal level as it is for businesses, it’s still worth mentioning. Using custom short links with your own domain enables you to create a cohesive and personalized online presence. For instance, is a custom short link that leads to a LinkedIn profile. By using my own short domain, I can promote my brand and make it easier for people to recognize and remember my content. This can result in increased traffic and engagement, as well as enhancing one’s overall online reputation.

To implement such a system, it’s crucial to find the shortest domain possible. Websites like or TLD-List offer global gTLD searches that can assist in this process.

Have you experienced success with personal link shortening? Are you interested in setting this up? Do you want to establish this system but prefer a turnkey solution? If so, I’m available to help. 🙂

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