Alternate Base URLs: What They Are and How to Use Them

Choosing a domain name is an important part of creating a website. However, it’s not uncommon for website owners to require alternatives to their primary domain name as well. One common reason is that the original name is too long. However, you may also want to temporarily use a different domain, or capture a larger potential audience.

In all these scenarios, an alternate URL comes in handy. This technique enables you to redirect your links to another domain name. What’s more, alternate URLs can easily be used alongside the Pretty Links plugin, to create shortened, branded links for using both on and off your site.

In this post, we’ll introduce alternate base URLs and discuss the reasons you may want to use them. We’ll then show you how to implement these URLs using Pretty Links. Let’s get started!

What an Alternate Base URL Is

The cPanel homepage

cPanel is just one of many websites to use alternate base URLs.

An alternate base URL is a domain (or subdomain) that you own and that points to your website. For example, www.cpanel.net directs users to the homepage of www.cpanel.com.

There are many reasons you may want to use an alternate base URL, which we’ll look at more closely in a moment. However, a few examples include wanting to:

  • Use a different domain name on a temporary basis.
  • Expand your current URL uses.
  • Give a part of your site a unique URL.

It can also be smart to own other variations of your website. For example, cPanel uses an alternate base URL to bring users who type in a slightly wrong URL (by using .net instead of .com) to the right website. For the same reasons, you can buy common misspellings and slight variations of your main URL. This also helps you avoid typosquatting, where others buy domain names similar to yours in the hopes of stealing your traffic.

2 Reasons You May Want to Change Your Base URL

As we’ve discussed, there are many reasons to change your base URL. Let’s now look more closely at two of the most common (and compelling) arguments.

1. You Want to Shorten Your Link Further

A shortened link on Amazon's Facebook profile

Here, you can see an example of a shortened link on the Amazon Facebook page.

Depending on your domain name, even your shortened links may be longer than you desire. By using an alternate base URL, you can make sure your links are as brief as possible. After all, shorter links are more easily displayed on social media profiles and within social media content. They’re also more appealing to your audience.

Fortunately, creating an even shorter alternate base URL can be quite simple. One way to do this is to use your current URL’s initials for the new one. For example, you could turn www.mycookingwebsite.com into www.mcw.com. If you choose to not use initials, however, you’ll still want to consider removing any ‘stop words’ (such as articles and prepositions). These can significantly reduce URL length, while not changing it too drastically.

2. You’d Like to Rebrand Your Website

The Axero rebrand announcement

Rebrands are a big undertaking, but one that’s sometimes necessary.

Rebranding your website means to change its primary focus in some way. This may be a slight change, such as targeting a new niche without necessarily excluding your current audience. It can also be more drastic, and involve expanding or narrowing your target audience significantly. You may also want to rebrand your site to make its purpose more obvious.

When choosing an alternate base URL to use in your rebranding efforts, we recommend that you keep the same structure as your current URL. For example, if you’re a graphic designer with the URL www.YourNameGraphicDesign.com, but you want to expand to include copywriting, you can use www.YourNameCopywriting.com as well. Doing this helps retain brand consistency, while also making your URLs easy for your audience to remember.

How to Create an Alternate Base URL Using Pretty Links

Pretty Links is a link management plugin that enables you to shorten, track, and brand your links. Once downloaded and installed on your website, you can also use it to help you create alternate base URLs.

You’ll first need to own the domain you want to use as your alternate URL. You’ll also need to set it up so that the Domain Name System (DNS) for your alternate URL automatically forwards any visitors to your main website.

Once that’s done, go to your WordPress dashboard and navigate to Pretty Links > Options. Check the box next to Use Shortlink URL, and then enter the URL you’d like to use right below:

The Shortlink URL option in Pretty Links

After that, click on Update. Now, all of your current pretty links (as well as the ones you create in the future) will sport the new, shorter URL you’ve chosen.

Conclusion

If you don’t choose your domain name carefully, you may end up regretting it. However, even if your domain name is perfect, you might want to create alternate URLs for branding purposes or to capture a wider audience. Fortunately, it’s possible to alter your base URL while also keeping your original domain intact.

In this post, we’ve introduced the concept of alternate base URLs, and discussed how to create them with the help of Pretty Links. We’ve also outlined two reasons you might want to change your current URL, including:

  1. You want to shorten your links further.
  2. You want to rebrand your website.

Do you have any questions about alternate base URLs, or how to create them? Let us know in the comments section below!

Categories: Branding
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