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What is a Custom URL & How to Create One?

Arslan Jadoon
12 minutes

Brands and entrepreneurs try to milk every engagement opportunity on the internet whether it’s social media, email, or paid ads.

The ultimate goal of all the attention-grabbing techniques is to convert the lead into a paying customer.

Therefore, a lot of brainstorming and effort goes into making that happen – they improve UI/UX, A/B test color schemes, improve call-to-actions, optimize on-page SEO, and much more.

One of the things that most marketers, bloggers, and small businesses undermine is the custom URL.

You may have heard about the custom URLs in a YouTube video or an article about link management or URL shortening.

Well, let’s try to crack open this topic and understand what custom URLs are and why they’re worth paying attention to in digital marketing.

What are custom URLs?

Custom URLs are customized, better-looking alternative URLs that replace long and clunky website URLs for engagement, click-through rate, and conversion.

Most e-commerce websites don’t have optimized product page URLs, which affects their SEO performance. The reason is that the URL structure plays a vital role in the website ranking.

Some brands use branded, short URLs in their link management to improve CTR and conversion across different mediums. These types of URLs are used in email newsletters, social media publishing, and marketing pamphlets.

Custom or vanity URLs are an essential part of the social media marketing and SEO campaign. Digital marketers and SEOs pay close attention to adding targeted keywords in their URL slugs.

You may have noticed that brands and influencers share social media content with a short URL that has a campaign URL slug attached to it. This URL slug is different from URL parameters that are added to the URLs for tracking the URL performance.

The custom URLs are beneficial from both branding and SEO aspects of digital marketing. Brands could customize their short URLs by adding short branded domains for URL shortening as well as creating custom URLs for social media and email marketing campaigns.

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Best practices for using custom URLs

Have you ever wondered what goes into creating fancy and attractive custom URLs? Using vanity or custom URLs is a common digital marketing practice that helps brands build brand reputation and identity.

However, there are a few things to know before you create a bunch of custom URLs for a social media marketing campaign. Let’s discuss some of the best practices that will help you navigate the custom URL creation process with ease:

i. Use a short domain for custom URLs

There is no point in putting effort into setting up a custom URL with a large URL. A custom URL has to be short and sweet. Otherwise, it won’t make an impact. Brands and entrepreneurs get creative with using the short versions of their names or finding the short domain extensions. (Example: garyvee.com)

ii. Opt for a brandable custom domain

Choosing a random custom domain for your custom URLs won’t be a wise decision. It has to be relevant to your brand name so that it elevates your brand identity. Since branding is a major factor in custom domains, the custom URLs must have your brand name’s infusion. Go for a custom domain that is either a short version of your brand name or using the initials of the company name. (Example: amzn.com)

iii. Register your domain with a short, relevant extension

Custom domains aren’t just about the domain names or URL slugs – the extensions matter too. A lot of brands use .io, .se, .co, and other short domain extensions for their custom URLs. However, it’s not the rule; you can go for a .com or .net if you want to but make sure that the domain name is short and relevant.

iv. Choose a URL shortener with a custom domain feature

Find a URL shortener with a custom domain feature for your brand’s link management. What it means is that the URL shortener must have a feature to add a custom domain to your account for creating brandable short URLs. Most of the URL shorteners on the market lack this feature, anyway, but don’t worry because we have your back.

Replug is a powerful link management tool that provides URL shortening, branded custom URLs, bio links, UTM codes, deep links, and several other link management services. Try it for free!

v. Avoid spamming on social media with your URLs

One of the best practices of using custom URLs is that you might not want to spam all over social media. The reason is that social media platforms could detect spamming and ban or limit your URL. As a result, you may not be able to post your short URLs or the reach could fall flat. So be very careful with your posting frequency and write a commentary on others’ content with messages containing your links.

These were some of the best practices for using custom URLs for brands, influencers, and small businesses that want to cash in on the short, custom URLs.

Shorten your links, amplify your brand.

Create shareable, trackable and fully customizable branded urls. Get more clicks with absolute link management features such as Bio Links, retargeting, deep Links, CTA’s and more.

Learn More!
fully customizable bio link

How to create a custom domain?

In the context of custom URLs, creating a custom domain refers to the process of registering, propagating, and connecting the short URL with the link management tool of your choice.

Since my favorite URL shortener is Replug, I’ll be using this link management tool for this process. However, you can opt for a different tool if you want to, but I highly recommend trying Replug for free.

So let’s get into the step-by-step process of creating a custom domain:

Step 1: Register a custom domain

Domain registration is the first step toward setting up a custom domain no matter what tool you choose to set up the whole thing. So go on with registering a short and sweet domain for your brand.

Keep in mind that most brands pick the short version of their brand name to register for setting up their short domain. Similarly, it’s wise to opt for a two-letter domain extension to keep the URL as short as possible, such as .co, .io, .se, and others.

So to register your custom domain, go to your domain registrar service to check the domain availability and register the domain.


I have been registering my domains on Namecheap for over a decade. You can check out other domain registrars if you want to. However, the prices are pretty much the same across all registrars.

Step 2: Propagate the custom domain with Replug

Once the domain registration has been done, head over to the custom domain configuration with Replug. Pay close attention to this two-step process to make it work.

The first step toward this configuration is the DNS records updating. So add the DNS records for your custom domain to configure it with Replug.

To get started with DNS records updating, go to your domain registrar account and look out for the desired domain’s DNS settings.


Find the option named “Add New Record” or “Add Record,” to configure the DNS settings.

Now add a CNAME record in your domain setting to configure it with your Replug account.


Click on the “Add New Record” option to include a new record. Add the following details:

  • Record Type: CNAME
  • Hostname: @ or www
  • Point to (Address): Your short domain (URL)

Adding the DNS settings is half the equation – the next half of the process happens in your Replug dashboard.

Also read: Why Your Business Needs a Custom URL Shortener?

Step 3: Add the custom domain to your Replug account

When the DNS setting is done, go to the Replug account to add the custom domain to your Replug account.

When logged in to your Replug account open the drop-down settings menu from the top right corner by clicking on your profile button.


Head over to the Custom Domains section and click on the Add Domain option to add a custom domain to your account.


It’s time to provide your short custom domain to connect it to your Replug account. So fill up the form with your branded URL, custom 404 redirection page URL, and main root URL. 


Press the Connect button after providing the details.

Also read: How to Increase Click-Through Rate (CTR) using Branded Links?

Step 4: Create a new brand in your Replug account

Creating a brand in the Replug account is necessary to keep track of brand-level link performance. Otherwise, the shortened URLs will be assigned to a previously created brand in your account.

So once you have configured the custom domain with your Replug account, the next up is to add a new brand to your Replug account.


To create a brand in the Replug account, go to the Manage section and click on the Brands option from the drop-down menu.


This is the area where you add a new brand. Choose the “New Brand” option to create one. 


After clicking on the “New Brand” button, a pop-up menu would show up. Feel free to enter the brand name and website URL. Once it’s done, press the Save button to proceed.

This way, you’ll have successfully created a new brand in the Replug account.

Also read: Revamp Your Online Branding with Branded Short Links 

Step 5: Launch the campaign with the custom domain

Once you’ve created a brand in your Replug account, create a campaign to get started using your custom domain.


Click on the Manage button from the top menu bar and access the Campaigns option from the drop-down menu.


Now click on the New Campaign button on the page to create a new campaign. The next up is selecting the right brand for this campaign. Therefore, select the brand you just created for this campaign.


Now choose the campaign type. It’s important to pay attention to this part as you must select the appropriate custom domain for the campaign.


Write down the name of your campaign and opt for the right short domain you just added.

Don’t forget to save the campaign once you have added all the details.

Once it’s all done, you can start using your custom domain for creating branded, short URLs for social media and email marketing.

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How to create a custom or vanity URL?

Brands and influencers use custom URLs for promotional campaigns and discount offers to keep track of their business performance. Creating a custom URL adds a distinctive touch to your brand identity or offer. One of the benefits of using custom links is that they’re more memorable than long, generic URLs.

Let’s take a look at the steps involved in creating a custom or vanity URL:

Step 1: Sign up for a URL shortening tool

There are several link management tools out there, but my URL shortener of choice is Replug. It’s an all-in-one link management tool for URL shortening, deep linking, retargeting, bio linking, and branded URLs.


If you’re not already a Replug user, then sign up for an account on the Replug app here – there is a 14-day free trial with no strings attached.

Step 2: Setup Your brand and campaign

After signing up for a Replug account, log in to your account. 


Now you need to create a brand and campaign to create custom URLs for your business or event.


Go to the Manage section and then click on the Brands button. Now click on the “New Brand” button to create a new brand in your Replug account.

Then go to the Campaigns section to create a new campaign. Click on the Manage button from the top menu and click on the Campaigns.


Select “New Campaign” and provide the brand details. You can either create a new brand or use an existing one. Since you have just created a new brand, choose an existing brand from the list.


Before finishing up the process, you would have to choose the name and type of the campaign. Once it’s done, press the Save button to finish it.

Also read: Branded Links vs. Short Links: Which is Right for Your Brand?

Step 3: Generate your custom shortened URL

Now you have created a new brand and campaign in your Replug account. It’s time to generate your custom shortened URL.


Go to the dashboard of the Replug account. You’ll see the URL shortening area. Input the long and clunky URL that you want to shorten it.

Choose the campaign from the drop-down and enter the long URL to shorten it.

Step 4: Configure URL parameters

Before hitting the Create button to shorten the URL, you can add a few customizations or do some configuration to the URL.


Just paste the long URL and choose the campaign name for the URL. You’ll see a new option called “Add UTM” would appear alongside the long URL.


You can add UTM parameters to your URL that will be embedded with your original link. 


As a result, you’ll be able to track short link click performance in your Replug analytics.

Step 5: Track URL performance

Replug has a robust URL tracking section where users can keep an eye on the links’ performance. So leverage Replug’s analytics and tracking features to monitor the performance of your custom shortened URLs.


For the most part, keep track of click numbers, user locations, and referral sources for valuable insights.

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7 best examples of custom or vanity URLs

We’ll look at diversified examples to make the picture crystal clear. The examples would include some top-notch brands as well as blogs or marketers that are capitalizing on the custom, short URLs.

So without any further ado, let’s get right into the examples:

1. YouTube

YouTube is the second most popular search engine on the internet. The video giant platform uses youtu.be a custom domain. When you visit youtu.be, it redirects to youtube.com.


Moreover, when you share a YouTube video through the share button underneath the YouTube video, it uses the custom URL (youtu.be) for sharing the video across all platforms.

2. Amazon

Amazon is an e-commerce giant with a presence in several countries. This e-commerce retail platform uses the custom domains, such as called amzn.com and amzn.to. It showcases how well top brands understand and implement link management strategies.


Amazon Associates members access the products’ affiliate links from SiteStripe within a second. The e-commerce giant uses amzn.to as a custom domain for affiliate products.

3. Replug

Replug is a URL shortener that comes with several link management features, such as URL shortening, UTM parameters, retargeting, deep linking, bio links, and others.


Replug’s default short URL for users is rplg.co. However, paid users could add a custom URL to their account to take their link management campaign to the next level.

4. ContentStudio

ContentStudio is an all-in-one social media management dashboard that provides brands, agencies, digital marketers, and entrepreneurs complete control over their social media management. The top features include social media scheduling, content calendar, social media analytics, and much more.


ContentStudio also uses a custom, short domain for social media content sharing – it means when users share their content on social media platforms, their long URLs get automatically shortened The platform uses cstu.io as a custom domain.

5. ShareASale

ShareASale is an affiliate marketing network that connects brands and affiliate marketers. They provide affiliate product links to the affiliates so that they can promote these products, generate sales, and earn commissions.

This affiliate marketing network uses shrsl.com short URL as a custom domain. The affiliates can create a custom link for any of the products from the merchant’s website.

6. SquareX

Squarex is a popular private browsing solution that is available on the web and desktop. They are using the sqrx.io as a custom domain across all social media platforms.


7. Buffer

Buffer is a social media scheduling tool that allows users to schedule content across different social media platforms. They use buff.ly as a custom domain. It redirects you to their main URL when you access the short version of the domain.


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Your go to link management tool for CTAs, branded and bio links, QR Codes, tracking and retargeting.

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Let’s conclude

So, a custom URL is a short, sweet, and branded URL that replaces the long and funky URLs and makes the URLs look better. 

Custom URLs can make any digital marketing campaign look more trustworthy, professional, and appealing regardless of the marketing channel. 

Professional bloggers and digital marketers use short and branded domains for social media marketing, email marketing, and paid advertising to make their social media marketing content digestible.

Now you know what custom URLs are and how brands and experts can use them. 

Are you ready to try out a custom domain for your brand? Well, we’re confident that this piece will help you navigate the process of creating custom URLs for your brand.

Arslan Jadoon
Meet Arslan, a skilled website blog and content writer who combines creativity and expertise to deliver engaging and informative pieces that captivate audiences.

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