No doubt you’ve seen web addresses from bit.ly or tiny.url. These small addresses which are often easier to remember, and type, than a long web address, are called redirects. They allow you to type in something short to get to a destination, much like a shortened amz.to link for books.
You might be wondering why you need them and if it’s even ethical to hide the address. Shortening your Amazon Associates link, for example, will mask the fact that it’s an affiliate link, while still revealing that it goes to Amazon.
It certainly isn’t wrong to use a redirect, and in fact, can help in many ways. One of the biggest ways redirects help you is that they can keep your website and your name in front of readers. Here’s how.
For my urban fantasy book, Hidden, when I do online promotions I like to use the link: http://marykitcaelsto.com/go/hidden. This link actually redirects to my Books2Read page, which shows all available vendors. In this way, people who don’t buy on Amazon can see a place to purchase their book like iBooks or Barnes & Noble, and as the author, I’m reinforcing my website and the stickiness of my name in their minds.
The other great benefit is that I can see stats on these links. I can see where the clicks came from (for example a Facebook or Twitter post), the number of people who clicked on a given day or in a given timeframe, and when I marry this link with an analytic program like Google Analytics, or even Jetpack’s built in site stats, additional details.
It’s also a lot cleaner than typing out a link for Amazon, a link for each store, and then a Books2Read link, or providing just the Books2Read link, which some readers may not recognize as a universal link.
Redirects serve a more obvious purpose and that is redirecting visitors to your site when permalinks change or when the name of a post change. However for selling books, I like redirects because they help you build your platform by keeping your name front and center in the readers’ minds.