Tuesday , June 15 2021
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Install your own URL Shortener to Cloak and Track for Free

For us who do online marketing, using URL shortening services is an everyday event. Emailing a link that is 500 characters long is not cool. Additionally, if it is an affiliate link, you certainly want to hide your affiliate id from being hijacked.

There are plenty of free online url shortening services, that are hosted elsewhere. There are 100’s that you can pick from. Some of the more common one’s are: goo.gl, tinyurl.com, bit.ly, is.gd, tiny.cc. The problem with all of them is that most of them look spammy and many email providers see them this way too. For WordPress users, there are a variety of free plugins that will shorten URLs, track and cloak, links for you. In the past, I have used GoCodes plugin. The problem is, I have to login to each wordpress install to look at my stats, or change the urls, or add another one.

The best service that I am currently using is a free script that you host on your own server called Yourls.org. You manage all your links from one dashboard. You are in control. It shortens your urls, offers cloaking, tracking, and many more features with additional free plugins. Thus, this requires your own hosting. I find Hostgator an excellence choice for hosting. I have created a video that explains how to install Yourls.

There are marketing dangers to using free online URL shortener’s like bit.ly, namely, you do not know what is lurking on the other side of the link, and if this link can be trusted. Additionally, many email providers filter out these free online shortener’s as being spam email.

If you do email marketing, or blogging, you want to look trustworthy. I would rather click on markdulisse.com/likes/offer, than to click on www.bit.ly/8ha35.

Then there are the paid install scripts that offer you much of the same services of shortening, cloaking, and tracking, but installed on your own domain. And of course, I have purchased most of the better one’s.

If you any type of selling online, you want to cloak and track your links. The BEST method is to install a script on your own server with a admin dashboard that allows you to control all your links from one dashboard. If you need to change the affiliate id on one of your links, no problem, simply login to the dashboard and make the changes and all links that are published on the web will now have the new affiliate id attached to it.

For our purposes, Yourls.org offers the best features, benefits, and advantages.


 Make a Comment. Tell me your ideas. I read them all.

About Mark Dulisse

Software Developer, Blogger, SEO Consultant, Internet Marketer

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  1. Hey marketing Good tipos again Thanks from Brazil.

  2. Thanks Mark for this blog submission. I have been already some time now thinking about getting a URL shortener and appreciate your doing the hard work of testing them for us all!

  3. Thanks for sharing Mark. Great info.


  4. Great Tip & explanantion Mark! – this has to be ‘Far Better’ than alot of the url shorteners that make your potential clients have to see an advertisement for something completly none related to what your promoting or worse still have a warning appear from Google saying potential spam or virus!

    please keep us updated with how it works for you on click rates & results!

  5. Mark,

    Thanks for this one. I have been using pretty link lite but what keeps me from using it always is the fact that I need to login to wordpress each time I use it.

  6. Hi Mark,

    Thank you. I’ve been looking for a way to do my own URL shortener! This is solution is a good one. I’ll be putting this to some heavy use. Are ther any potential downfalls?

    Thank you,

  7. Hi,
    Great tip. In your explaination that follows you say that it is very important to cloak your links. I’ve read that is very important whether it is to one of your own offers or to amazon or ebay products you are marketing through their affiliate systems. So does yourls.org also cloak links? Thanks in advance for your help.

    All the best,
    Ted Sudol

  8. Hi Mark,

    Nice post about OWNING your
    own url shortening – redirecting service.

    Something else to consider, is this,
    if you are wanting to go this way,
    make sure you get (and keep) a
    domain suitable for the purpose.

    I use yourls.org too, along with
    a previously purchased script.

    Be Well!
    ECS Dave

  9. Thank you for posting this. I have issues w/ services like bit.ly or tiny.url. They do look spammy and I have been brought to sites that were linked to malware, so I have come to NOT click on them. I have used plugins like Pretty Link, but at times the links broke, mainly due to the plugin not being updated as quickly as WP had been or when I hadn’t jumped to update the plugin when it became available.

    What I decided to do was either create subdomains and redirect them or just create redirects. Looks like Yourls does this for you which will be a time-saver.

    Thanks, again

  10. I just like the helpful information you supply to your articles.
    I’ll bookmark your blog and take a look at again right here regularly. I’m quite sure I’ll be told many new stuff right right here! Best of luck for the following!

  11. As usual, Mark provides nice useful info, very well explained (content text & video).
    The same about his products.

  12. Thanks Mark – I reposted a link to this on Facebook for ya.


  13. John McLaughlin, StockCoach

    Thanks Mark,
    Nice tool and will install on DayTradersWin.com

    Have you updated Tube Fool for the new YouTube format?


  14. Mark – is this a Google product? Just wondering…

  15. Great video on adding your on shortened links

  16. Hi Mark,
    Nice tutorial Thank you. It looks like it ab-ended.
    What is the difference between what you showed and the plugin for WordPress, they have on the same page.
    Thank you again

  17. Thank for this info about creating shorter links. When I tweet my site I will use these tips. TY
    Dating Tips online Sexy

  18. John McLaughlin, StockCoach

    Like baseball – 3 tries and you’re out..

    Here is the screen capture: http://screencast.com/t/MKcluTAt

    Need a fix – for the install.

    • Hi John,

      I would install the server application, and not the wordpress plugin. I’ve not used the wp plugin, as I like having one dashboard I can manage all my links from, and check my stats.

  19. Thanks for letting us know about yourls.org Mark. I have watched your video and am going to try it.

  20. Cool video Mark!
    You always have Awesome information!
    How secure is their service?
    What if Yourls.org goes down and or if they decide to take the website down for good?
    All my links would not work or be gone, right?

  21. I can vouch for this exact script/service. I’ve been doing this for years now. It was EASY to set up, does require a domain and hosting (but you’re an internet marketer, so you already have hosting and know how to register a domain, right?), and it super easy to maintain and add to.

  22. Hi Mark,

    Saw your email about URL shortener and I have the domain http://li-ke.it where I will install it
    (I did test another URL shortener that didnt run so well so I took it off the page).

    However curently I’m using another service installed in a subfolder. http://li-ke.it/1/ for my links.

    I was thinking to sell “personaised cloaking packages” on li-ke.it each installed in a
    numbered sub folder (i.e. http://li-ke.it/7/ etc etc ) where people can managed their own URL’s.

    Then on the main page have affiliate links to a bunch of awesome products like yours
    Mark. Say 20-25 different ads with the free URL shortener in the middle.

    (I hope it’s OK to offer this here Mark…) If anyone one wants to take on this project (JV) or
    buy the domain off me let me know as I’m flat out busy with other projects at the moment.

    Mark 🙂 Love your products mate! and your passion! 🙂 Carl 🙂

  23. Another good one – thanks. Was happy ( well …..) to pay someone rather famous quite a high price for a cloaker a few weeks ago; thank heavens it did not arrive and I could get my money back. Just what I have been looking for.
    Now – what else do I need ???????

  24. John McLaughlin, StockCoach

    Mark and others listening – you are going to love this…

    So, I call HostGator, and ask this nice guy, David, to check out this new tool, giving him a couple install URLs you gave me, Mark – and asked if he could help me make this tool work = knowing at this time of night I’m just about brain dead listing to all Mark Dulisse’s offers over the past week (no offense, Mark).

    Well, beyond belief, David jumped right in – installed the freekn app and low and behold, I have the URL shorterer, working like a charm – no email filter touching me in the future, my guess.

    Who said you can’t get something for nothing – all you have to do is be a nice guy, I try ocasionally, and ask for help.

    Bam! – Solution, by another nice guy from – HostGator.

    I shared this with my girlfriend, to set a standard for her to look up to, in service.

    I’m not going to keep you posted on that last one.


  25. Perfect timing on this post! I am about to redo my entire email marketing campaign – starting with adding shortened links to my ebook giveaway, I was thinking about using the Redirection plugin for wordpress, but this seems like a much better option.

    So, do you think it’s better to have 1 master shortner that we use on all of our sites, or a different shortner for every site?

    My problem is that I will be putting the opt-in form on about 100 of my sites – but my main site has a VERY long URL – so obviously, I don’t want to use that.

    I bought http://www.ilsurl.me and plan on using that in the ebook and all future marketing efforts. Any thoughts?

  26. I have been thinking of getting something like this. Couldn’t be more timely. Thanks to Mark for the post.

  27. Hi Mark,

    thanks for the amazing text and video. As alsways it is very well explained and extremely useful.

    I never liked to show people my affiliate link, I felt miserable about that. But I never had a satisfying solution to solve the problem.

    Now this has come to a end with this tool. The dawn after the darkness so to speak. And I love it that it’s hosted on my server and not theirs.

    Thanks for the early wonderful Easter Bunny 😉


  28. Hi Mark,

    I do manual installs of WP on my blogs. How does the MySql database install figure into the process
    of the URL Shortener Install? Does it replace it?

    How about on preexisting WP blogs?

  29. Mark, thank you so much for the video if I had to read how to install this
    it would just have stayed on my ToDo list for ever

  30. John McLaughlin, StockCoach

    Not sure why – but yourls does not accept the first letter in the

    Screen Capture: data entry

    Screen Capture: results

    Mark – any idea as to why – and is there a fix?


    John McLaughlin, StockCoach

  31. Thanks Mark, this is great, I have been searching for a link shortener for my own domain that can also track stats and update across all deployed links if changes need to happen, this is PERFECT.

  32. Thank Mark I install and learning the system
    again thank you, good looking out

  33. Mark,

    Awesome as usual.
    Many thanks,


  34. Hello Mark,

    Since around 2009 there has been a big increase in the automation of many of the processes that previously had to be done manually. Not all of them give the benefits they claim. Link cloaking is just one of them and the various services that are spreading far and wide on the internet have generated many problems that most internet marketers do not know about or understand.

    As in your post, I confirm that I do not click links that are obvious cloaking attempts. All are trying to hide something and it is clear that they are doing so. Some will almost certainly be malicious so why take a risk by clicking them?

    I also want my readers to see a link that I have designed to convey to them an important, sub-conscious message that persuades them to click the link. I aim to make every link with the exact words I want to use. For that reason I still do my link cloaking manually but you have got me interested in what “yourls” can do. So I have another reason to say to you, “Thank you”.

    Best regards,


  35. Thanks Mark.

    Great tip and introduction how it works. I installed straight away.

  36. John McLaughlin, StockCoach - Day Trading, Day Trader - Consultant / Coach

    Hey Mark,

    I figured out what that issues was causing the first letter to be missing – You plugin does not allow Caps.

    Is it possible to add an allow caps – in the next version?


    • @ John McLaughlin – What plugin are you referring to John? If it is Yourls wordpress plugin, I did not develop that. I think I also mentioned to use the server application and not their wordpress plugin.

  37. John McLaughlin, StockCoach - Day Trading, Day Trader - Consultant / Coach

    Or maybe there is a way I can make a tweak as it?

  38. Thanks Mark,
    Great video tutorial.
    This can be a real money saver, appreciate your time and effort sharing it with us.

  39. Another great post Mark.
    I’ve been using a paid url shortener/cloaker for years now and will never go back to the free ones.
    The service I’m using is GoTryThis. The problem with the free shorteners is that you are still limited to one domain. With GTT you login to your dashboard and can manage all of your domains and links. If you want to use a new domain, just add it in your dashboard and it will easily install a small piece of software on your domain. It has the ability to create your own links, special twitter links, expiring links (by time or clicks) and even trackable QR codes.
    If you only have a few domains, go with some free software, if you need to track dozens of domains, centralize your business and go with a paid version.

  40. The scammers recognize each other

  41. Surprising.
    I bought two products Dulisse Mark.
    They do not work in France.
    I requested a refund.
    No new Mr Dulisse.
    And he can say that others are scammers!??

  42. Sometimes the cookie is not stores. This happens when the user is in a secured browser where all cookies are disabled. If he’s using InPrivate session (as in Internet Explorer) or in Private Browsing (as in Mozilla Firefox), then I’m afraid – the cookies are not stored and you’re not credited for any ad impressions or new signups.

  43. Thanks Mark for this valuable information. I just shared the URL to this page with my Facebook IM group

  44. I didn’t know some URL shorteners can be identified as spam. I will try your suggestion, I think it will work just fine, especially as you’ve said, in putting links in emails.

  45. Mark am adding your blog to my do follow blog list …. thanks for the info. Am digging the free url short/cloaking site. Quality!


    Rock On~

  46. Thanks, Mark. I’ve been using bit.ly, and it’s confusing to say the least. I like the idea of hosting my own shortener with the control it offers.

  47. Personally I never like any of those url shorteners and quite agree they look spammy. Recently I started using Pretty Link on my sites but the suggestions you’ve made here are worth exploring.

    As for clicking on links I always hover over them to check for the destination before clicking. Obviously if the link is in an email already cloaked by the service provider (AWeber, etc) that become more difficult and then clicking or not depends on how much I trust the sender. Those who send one liner emails that say “you must see this … click here” or similar shorthand simply get consigned to the bin.

  48. Hey Mark, there’s a plugin in WordPress called Pretty Link. Is that the same type of URL shortener you’re referring to or is that something different. I’ve been using it to cloak my affiliate links and would love to know if there’s something wrong with it because I didn’t see you mention it? I’m fairly new to this internet marketing thing and would love to hit the ground running rather than work constantly to fix my mistakes. Thanks for your feedback?

  49. Thanks for sharing this free tool for url shortening. It is time consuming to shorten 1000 urls and it that something that I have to do one by one before.

  50. This is a fact that people usually don’t prefer clicking on such short url links, even i don’t prefer using these url shorteners because you just don’t know at what you are clicking it can be a spammy stuff can be something harmful that can hack your system or any of your account where you have receive that short url like i had once via facebook that letted me compromise my facebook account and after such experience i do not trust these url shorteners

  51. Jez-Emprendedores

    Mark, your blog is great. It’s helping us much at all. Thank you again.

  52. Hi Mark Dulisse ,
    I came across your blog actually because I was looking for the plugin call GPlus rel=author Plugin Settings and finally curious like I am i navigate So i’m still here reading your post very informative post really i love it actually. So stories long short Thank for sharing all that info.
    Helene Martin

  53. Thanks for your URL shortening recommendations. I agree that using the right URL shortener can make a big difference in your marketing.

    I use a self-hosted URL shortener too, and it has saved me and made me a lot of extra income.

    I checked out Yourls and I like the look of their extensive tracking features. 🙂

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