You may or may not have noticed that Instagram is one of the only web services that you can not post clickable web links to, I assume Instagram put in this restriction to stop spammy posts which is great but it does not help you if you’re trying to pimp something that your followers will be legitimately interested in. This is something I recently thought about when I was giving a joint talk with my wife Rockcakes on the subject of Etsy SEO for the Brighton Etsy team. It’s a common thing for Etsy makers to post Instagram images of their making exploits, it’s a shame they can’t link to where their items can be found online.
If I were to type lomokev.com in a Facebook or Twitter post it would turn into a clickable link like: lomokev.com, in Instagram however it would just be a plan old un clickable piece of text like this: lomokev.com. Unfortunately, there is no magical solution to make Instagram links clickable. The problem is that the person reading a link in an Instagram post would have to remember it, come out of Instagram, launch their web browser and then type the URL. This is fine if they just have to remember lomokev.com but if it was a long URL like one of my blog posts: lomokev.com/blog/adding-easy-to-remember-web-addresses-urls-to-instagram-posts/ it becomes harder to remember. To make thinks even worse websites like Etsy and Flickr have long numbers in their URLs (https://www.etsy.com/listing/109315573/rainbow-ring-stone-set-silver-ring) which makes remembering for the average person impossible. To top it off you can’t copy and paste text from Instagram posts in iOS or Android so the only option is to remember the URL and type directly in your browser.
Using Bitly.com to create easy to remember web links
Bitly is a URL shortening service. You give it a long URL like lomokev.com/blog/adding-easy-to-remember-web-addresses-urls-to-instagram and it will turn it into like: bit.ly/f5H7f, you can also customise the shortened URLs to make them a little more memorable so it doesn’t have the random characters in it, the finished URL will look like this: bit.ly/lomokevs-bitly-tip. Before you start shortening any URLs I advise you to sign up for a Bitly account, this will enable you to keep a list of links accessible on all your devices so you can easily copy and paste them when you need them.
To shorten a link simply copy and then paste it into the text field at the top of the Bitly home page (1), once pasted a little window will open showing a shortened URL. To customise your new shortened URL click on the little pencil icon (2) next to the URL and type something memorable. If I were linking to a photo of Brighton beach in the snow I would put “snowy-brighton-beach” it’s longer than the original random string of characters but easier to remember. If you know there are lots of webpages you will want to link to you can shorten lots of URLs after each other, when you sign into bitly.com later they will be saved for easy access.
As you’ll be posting to Instagram from your iOS / iPhone or Android device you can make life easy by downloading the Bitly app for iOS or BitDroid for Android. Once signed into the Phone or Android app you can access your pre shortened links and easily copy and paste them into other apps.
On the iPhone app click on the link you want to copy, on the next screen click copy. Once you’re writing your Instagram post you hold your finger down on the description for a second and this will give you the paste option.
With Android’s BitDroid click on the clock in the top right corner of the screen to view your link history, then click on the copy icon (two documents on top of each other) under the link you want to copy. When writing an Instagram post hold your finger where you want your URL to appear for a second then the paste button will pop up.
Taken in one step further and using your own domain name using the Redirection plugin for WordPress
If you have a self hosted WordPress website (not one hosted at wordpress.com) you will be able to use plugins with your site. The Redirection plugin by John Godley allows you to set short links that will redirect to another web page which does not necessarily have to be on your site. In the WordPress admin click on Plugins and then “Add New”, search for “Redirection” the top hit should be Redirection by John Godley, install it and activate it.
Once installed / active there will be a new option in your ‘Tools’ section (1) called ‘Redirection’ (2), click on this. At the bottom of the page there are two text fields under ‘Add new redirection’ in the top field (3) post your shortened URL:
and in the bottom field (4) post the URL you want people to see when they type the short URL (it dose not have to be page on your own website):
Once entered if you go to https://lomokev.com/s/urls-insta/ your browser will be redirected to the longer version. Just to be on the safe side I will always make two shortened URLs one with and without the forward slash on the end as if a user sees lomokev.com/s/urls-insta/ and types lomokev.com/s/urls-insta they will get a page not found error as technically they are 2 different addresses.
Redirection also has other benefits, if you like me you sometimes post things to your site with misspelled URLs the Redirection plugin will automatically set up new Redirects to the correct spelt URLs from the incorrect ones. This means that people don’t see page not found messages if they visit the misspelled URLs.