ai9.co Private Label


Problems in Paradise

 

The Necessity

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URL shortening is a necessity of social networking. Using services like Facebook, Twitter, and Google + URLs need to look neat and use as few characters as possible. It’s essential on microblogging services like Twitter. There is an aesthetic element involved in URL shortening. Native URLs can be long and full of alphanumeric characters and symbols. You have to read beyond that unpleasing URL to engage the page content. Shortened URLs are less imposing and disruptive within the content. The first thing I did was turn to public URL shortening services (USS). Services like tinyurl.com, bit.y, and is.gd. Through experience, I found out that shortening a URL using these services is really a dice game. Adding insult to injury, the dice are loaded in their favor.

Link Death

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Link death is devastating. Smaller URL shortener services do not stay in business. There is nothing more heartbreaking in finding that none of your shortened URLs work. Being out there in the mix of these USSs, I began to realize they drop like flies. There is no stability in the market for these services as business entities. Another threat to shortened URLs is expiration. GoDadddy’s shortened links expire after one year if they have not been clicked on. Link expiration is a real problem if you are with the wrong service. Services such as bit.ly and tinyurl claim their links never expire. It is a fact to be conscious of when using public USSs.  Abuse is another link killer. People are becoming increasingly leery clicking on links issued by public USSs.

Abuse

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Spammers, black hat hackers and criminals are using the same USSs. The problem has become paramount. Even though links may not expire, the service may be shut down by their registry. Domain registries such as .to have simply removed USSs from their registrar. More directly, shortener services like u.nu simply closed their doors rather than spend the money to find offenders on their system. Google continues to live up to their reputations as a company that doesn’t play games; they simply disable their URLs without notice if foul play is suspected. Further complicating the problem, social media networks such as Twitter are blocking USSs like TinyURL. TinyURL has been blocked at the country level too. Saudi Arabia has blocked them altogether. A majority of these USSs are shut down due to spam or illegal activity. There is really no way to know what is on the other end of a public USS URL. Privacy and security are an issue with USS companies.

Privacy and Security

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Privacy and security issues are engrained in the problem. One problem is the ability of the USS to track the user’s activities across the web. You do not own the data that is generated by the USS. Instead, the activities are fed into a database and analyzed. Security is further compromised by clicking on links that lead to scam pages, malware pages, phishing sites, spyware, and shock sites. They are so effective because USSs are trusted by firewalls. It really takes a human brain to weed out the security threats. This is a cumbersome task and many people will choose simply not to click on the link translating into lost clients for unsuspecting businesses.  It is best to use a service that expands shortened URLs to see where it leads. I have provided one for your use on ai9.co. URL Expander

Branding

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As I said early on, dealing with USSs is a dice game and the dice are loaded. Each time a long link is shortened and posted, the USS brand is passed into the market. Surely, customers don’t want to see advertisements for a USS every time they read content that has been posted by you. The problem is more complex than that. Businesses using public USSs inherit their credibility problems. It threatens what branding has been built by the company over many years. People are much more likely to remember a business that has its own USS. It shows that you care and are concerned about the safety of your customers. Other USSs do sell custom shortener services.  However, they control the data and privacy issues come with the package and the packages are expensive. USSs like Hootsuite charge a premium for this service . Having your own USS reinforces branding and adds to your professionalism. Having a custom USS is much more professional than using free USSs. It tells people that the business is legitimate, not amateur.

 


Private Solution 

 

Private Label

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The term “private label” is familiar to many business owners. It is simply a product manufactured for relabeling by another company. How does this relate to a private label USS? Private label is also a private brand. From this perspective it is clear that the long URL produced organically by websites on their home servers is rebranded by the USS. What has happened with the organic URL is loss of branding. The long URL is unusable in microblogging such as Twitter and lacks aesthetic qualities for use in Social Media Networks such as Facebook. In turn, the companies who worked so hard to carefully select their domain has blindly produced a URL that is undesirable. Knowing this, USSs have jumped their branding claim and has spread their names through the markets. TinyURL boasts, “Making over a billion long URLs usable! Serving billions of redirects per month”. Public USSs are giants on the Internet. For a business to capture a fraction of the rebranding market, translates in widespread exposure for their product and services.

Link Trust

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For people and business entities, trust has never been more relevant. Relationships are defined by the trust it builds among peers, family, friends, strangers, interpersonal, consumer-to-consumer and consumer-to-business relationships. To trust an author’s link means that people count on their sense of responsibility and integrity. It is the belief that the author will act in a trustworthy manner. Trust is the foundation of relationships. Authoring post in social networks carries with it a responsibility to the reader. In business, it is a responsibility to your customer. It is paramount because people are empowered in the things they do. Readers are more critical than ever and have sharpened their ability to discern the credible from the unconvincing. Trust is invisible and taken for granted until it is violated. We live in an age where authors can share information to the masses instantly. Using USSs that are known to put the reader at risk is irresponsible. That is why I have chosen to step up to the plate and develop my own USS. Link trust is a partnership with my readers. This partnership is built on everyday practices and relationships. A partnership, that within which trust is based, has helped create and define what I and my business are today.

Analytics

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Not all public USSs offer analytics. Some of the few are bitly, cligs and owly. Unfortunately, hits are not all they track. When an account has a name on it, the USSs are able to track their activity over the Internet. ai9.co is based on the YOURLS core. YOURLS out of the box gives traffic statistics, location, sources and allows sharing of the link. Traffic statistics reflect the hits over the last 24 hours. A nice feature to shed light on how well received a post is by an audience. It shows how an article does out of the gate. To track if a post continues to draw readers over time, statistics are available for time periods of 7 days, 30 days and all time. As a bonus feature, the best day is posted showing the peak activity. For the traffic location, the top five countries are available in pie chart format. A detailed list of countries is also available in a drop down menu. For a complete overview, a map gives a quick snapshot of the activity across the globe. Vary useful. An author may be really hot in a region of the world and be totally unsuspecting of this fact. Referral shares of the traffic and the direct vs. referrer traffic is given under traffic source. This reveals where a post is most popular. Lastly, the link can be shared across three social networks, Twitter, Facebook and FriendFeed. These features are out of the box. YOURLS is open source software and can be further enhanced with plugins created by developers. Analytics can be greatly expanded to meet the needs of the user.

Progressive URL Management

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Progressive URL management (PUM) is a style that does not conform to conventional or traditional thinking on short URL management. PUM is an innovative and progressive way to manage URLs. Looking directly at the definition of progressive: a happening or developing gradually or in stages; proceeding step by step. This is the adjective of progressive. The noun version: a person advocating or implementing social reform or new, liberal ideas. Both clearly state the nature of PUM. Having the flexibility to modify or change the short URL allows for the continuous progression towards high impact links. PUM minimizes linkrot, link death, and abuse and maximizes click through rates and link health. Prime examples of linkrot include links to pages that have disappeared. This can happen on Facebook when an iframe tab suddenly stops working. The simple solution is to publish a new page and change the long URL redirecting the shortened link. Fighting abuse is another concern. Link trust is essential. If a website becomes infected with malware, the links can be redirected to similar content from another source. This preserves the quality of the shortened link for your readership. PUM is forward thinking, social responsibility and stays true to mission objectives.

Branded Email

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Email is a requirement to do business on the Internet and off. Used for customer correspondence, receiving invoices from distributors, or sending a quick memo to employees, and of course, emailing friends and family. It is part of the company branding strategy. Email is also the branding of an artist, band or public figure. Branding differentiates from the crowd demonstrating unique value, image, established reputation and credibility. Most importantly, having an email that incorporates a domain is best practice and professional. Using a free email service tells people that the business or person is amateur and possibly not legitimate. In terms of branding, associating a business or your person with a free domain like ThisIsMeOrMyBusiness@Yahoo.com, shares half of the branding with that company. Fans and customers know about brand sharing and may be reluctant to advertise for Yahoo!’s email services every time they send an email message. People are much more likely to remember a person or business if it is associated with a domain. Lastly, branded email is flexible. Email can fill need. Emails such as EmailMe@CoolExample.com or Info@CoolExample.com are prime examples. Email simply is not possible with public USSs.

Traffic Generation

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Traffic generation is the life blood of any website. Without traffic your site is simply a number of webpages on the Internet. The three types of traffic are organic, direct and referral. ai9.co generates massive traffic.  A majority of its traffic is direct. Direct traffic does not come from the search engines (organic) nor from links (referral). Someone actually types the URL into the address bar. This type of traffic comes from branding. Shortening long URLs with a private label USS completely brands the business or person that owns it. In this case, I am branding myself; Johnnie J. O’Dell Jr. Readers see the ai9 domain and follow it back to the source. Most people are interested in a USS they can use themselves and others are curious about the website. Whatever the case, I am not sharing the branding with another company. Exposure is massive across social media networks. Posting on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn has generated massive traffic for the site. Best of all, it requires no SEO work. ai9.co generates its own traffic.

Customizability

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The open-source software used at ai9.co is YOURLS. This type of software makes its source code available to the end user. This is done under license. The license allows the user to study, change and distribute at no cost. Open-source software is a community effort saving consumers $ 60 billion per year. Users are treated as co-developers. That means users have access to the source code. Even better, users submit additions to the software. There are thousands of developers programming the software you need at a tremendous savings. For users that are not developers, a developer can be hired if the need arises. Additions such as these may or may not be released to the public. Focusing on YOURLS specifically, the software is constructed around a plugin architecture and API. Plugins simply expand the functionality of YOURLS core. YOURS core is light and can be easily customized.

Tutorial

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The three videos in the tutorial section walk you through setting up your own USS. I have included the video transcripts for ease of reference. The first video shows cutting edge techniques for finding a three character domain for your USS.  Included is how to use a generator and bulk search for three character domains across several TLDs and ccTLDs. Second, once you have your domain, you need to add it to a hosting account. Not all hosting packages are created equal . It is important to understand the packages and which ones have the greatest compatibility with open-source software. Last is the installation of the USS. The USS uses a .htaccess file. It is important that there is only one .htaccess file per installation per folder when installing your USS and website. This video guides you through the pitfalls. Your USS will generate traffic organically and this traffic is direct. It is so important to harness the power of your USS. Installing a personal or business website for your audience to enjoy is paramount. What ever your niche, celebrity, model, personal, manufacturing, clothing or retail, your website will have traffic naturally driven to your site. Enjoy the tutorial and thank you.

Resources Page

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Be sure to visit the resource page. All the vendors used to build ai9.co are included on the resource page with a few added extras. If you have any questions please email me; be sure to stop by my gift page and get your free monthly gift. The gifts will move you forward with your website development.