How to set up your domain name for Bit.ly, GitHub and others - Heart Internet Blog - Focusing on all aspects of the web

The best feature of domain names is that they allow for freedom of expression and help you create a consistent persona or brand across the web. But a lot of third party accounts restrict you to a username that isn’t your first choice or a long URL that’s impossible for you (or potential visitors) to remember. The good news is that you can quickly resolve this for GitHub and any other third party accounts you have, either with a simple DNS change or with a fast control panel redirect. All you need is a domain name to get started.

Historically, redirects and custom URLs for third party websites have worked better with shortened brand/personal names coupled with a two letter extension, such as .co, .me, .it, .eu, .tv, .sx, .cc, .pw, and now .uk. However, if you’re looking for something more targeted to your work that looks great on business cards, presentations and so on, then it’s worth looking at the new TLDs too, such as .london, .guru, .photos, .agency, .codes, .domains, and many more.

DNS

All the solutions below make use of DNS (domain name system) changes (specifically A records and CNAME records); however, even if you’re not familiar with these, if you follow the steps outlined below you shouldn’t have a problem.

If you'd like to find out more about DNS, try our short DNS introduction article (please log in first and then click this link). Please be aware that DNS changes can take up to 48 hours to propagate across the web; this is standard for all hosts and registrars and means your changes aren’t instantly active. For more information, please refer to this support guide (please log in first and then click this link).

Setting up your domain name for bit.ly

Bit.ly offers a great free URL shortening and forwarding service, so that instead of bit.ly/string, you can have your.url/string. You can then use this with another third party – for example Tweetdeck – and have your links automatically shortened with your custom URL. All your data and click stats are still available through your Bit.ly account, so you still keep all the features you need.

For a domain:

1. Set up/log into your Bit.ly account and go to Settings > Advanced.

2. Add your domain name under ‘Custom Short Domain’ and save.

3. Log in to your Heart Internet account and in the right-hand menu, click ‘Domain names’ under the ‘Manage’ section:

4. Select the domain you want from the drop-down box and click ‘Manage Now’, then ‘DNS Management’.

5. Change the top A record (the ‘Subdomain’ column should be blank) to 69.58.188.49, and click ‘Update DNS’:

For a subdomain:

1. Once you’ve created your subdomain, in the right-hand menu of your Heart Internet account, click ‘Domain names’ under the ‘Manage’ section.

2. Select the domain you want from the drop-down box and click ‘Manage Now’, then ‘DNS Management’.

3. Scroll down to the ’A/AAAA/CNAME Records’ section, then add your subdomain (no period) in the ‘Subdomain’ box, and ‘cname.bitly.com.’ (with a period at the end) in the ‘Address’ box and click ‘Update DNS’:

Please note that you can’t have both a CNAME and an A record for the same subdomain.

4. Once propagated, go back to Bit.ly and change the ‘Short Domain’ dropdown menu to your custom URL:

Now you can connect your Bit.ly account to a third party tool or website like Tweetdeck, or copy and paste URLs directly into Bit.ly to shorten them using your custom URL.

Setting up your domain name for GitHub

GitHub recommends that you set up a subdomain rather than a domain to ensure that you aren’t affected by changes in the underlying IP addresses of their servers.

1. Follow Step 1: Add a CNAME file to your repository.

2. In the right-hand menu of your Heart Internet account, click ‘Domain names’ under the ‘Manage’ section.

3. Select the domain you want from the drop-down box and click ‘Manage Now’, then ‘DNS Management’.

4. Scroll down to the ’A/AAAA/CNAME Records’ section, then add your subdomain (no period) in the ‘Subdomain’ box, and ‘username.github.io.’ (with a period at the end and where ‘username’ is your GitHub username) in the ‘Address’ box and click ‘Update DNS’.

Customise any social network URL

If you have a social media or other third party account that doesn’t allow for URL customisation, you can set up any of your domain names to forward to it. This is fast and easy to set up in your Heart Internet account – you don’t even need web hosting. It gives you a professional, memorable URL for external sites such as Flickr and LinkedIn and is ideal for business cards, email signatures, flyers, networking, presentations and much more.

To set up your redirect:

1. Log into your eXtend control panel.

2. Choose ‘Website Redirect’ (under the ‘Web Tools’ heading):

3. Add a subfolder to the end of your domain name if required (e.g. yourname.com/photos):

4. Enter the URL of your social network website in the ‘Website to redirect to’ field and click ‘Create Redirect’.

Enjoy your new URLs! If you have any problems getting your redirects or changes to work, please wait 24 hours and then contact our support team.

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