In the post How to track QR Codes in Google Analytics I described how to use Google campaign URLs in combination with a URL shortener to create a QR code that was easily track able in Google Analytics.

Since that post published I have had a lot of questions about using a URL shortener when it comes to branding. There is some concern that if someone scans a QR code and their QR reader shows “bit.ly/alskdfads” or “goo.gl/alksdfj” that the user may think that the URL is not trustworthy or just plain wrong.

If you don’t want to use a generic URL shortener what can you do? Below are a few options.

Option #1 – Use a branded URL shortener.

If you still like the convenience and tracking of bit.ly you can always change your account settings to use a custom short domain.
bit_ly-custom-short-domain

In order to use this service you have to purchase a short domain and go through a few steps to verify the domain.

Another option is to set up your own URL shortening service. YOURLs is an app you can download that will allow you to host your own URL shortner. Its takes a bit of know how to set up but will allow you to have a URL shortening service of your very own.

Option #2 – Use 301 redirects from your website.

This option requires that you have access to your website files and confidence in editing .htaccess rules and/or website files but can have a couple of advantages over using a URL shortening service. I’ll go over the advantages first and then give some instructions on how to set this up.

Advantages

  1. Your QR code will have your regular domain show up when it is read. This is great for maintaining consistency.
  2. Since you will have control of the 301 redirects you can manually change the page it points to after the QR codes are printed. This is important if you put QR codes on labels or packaging that will be in market for a long time. You wouldn’t want the page to move or go out of date and have the QR code point to a page that doesn’t exist.
  3. You can change the offer after printing. Lets say that you put a QR code on your packaging at the beginning of the year and then you begin to run a special for cross promotion. That special has a landing page which did not exist when the QR codes were printed. All you will have to do is make sure you change the redirect to point to the new landing page and now you are advertising your special on all your packaging. (I would make sure you are still using the Google Campaign URLs so you can Track QR code traffic.)

How to set up 301 redirects

Apache .htaccess Singe Page Redirect – Linux Hosting

  1. Locate or create an .htacess file. – This is a plain text document that might contain other redirects other information or may be blank. (Caution editing this file incorrectly could make your website in accessible)
  2. Create a rule for the URL that you want to use in your QR code. The example code points the url redclayinteractive.com/qr to redclayinteractive.com/qrlandingpage.
    Redirect 301 /qr http://www.redclayinteractive.com/qrlandingpage

PHP Single Page Redirect

  1. This code will need to be placed in the <header> of the page that the QR code is pointed to. The code will then redirect users to the page that you actually want them to see.
    <?php
    header("HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently");
    header("Location: http://www.redclayinteractive.com/qrcodelandingpage");
    exit();
    ?>

ASP single page redirect. This is used with the Active Server Pages Platform

  1. <%
    Response.Status="301 Moved Permanently"
    Response.AddHeader='Location','http://redclayinteractive.com/qrcodelandingpage/'
    %>

If this is greek to you don’t worry it should be very simple for your web developer to maintain a library of 301 redirects for your QR codes. They most likely already have many 301 redirects already in place to help you in your SEO efforts and should know exactly what to do.

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