Looking for a quick and easy way to analyze clicks, shrink your website links, add tags, and help you with retargeting? The answer is a URL shortener. As you know, URLs (Uniform Resource Locators) enable you to locate online resources. URLs include a protocol and a domain name that tells a web browser where and how to retrieve a resource. These services range from free URL shorteners to business-focused plans. After Google shut down its URL shortening service several years ago, people have been looking for alternatives. Like most things, there is no right answer: choosing the right URL shortener depends on your wants and needs. URL shortening apps are free, simple, and fast; some focus on analytics and marketing with detailed and dashboard metrics, while others allow you to customize your call-to-action. Here are five of the best URL shorteners available.
URL Shortener: What is it?
In short, a URL shortener takes a long URL, shortens it, and then sends the user directly to the original URL. Using a URL shortener, users can track and share links with shorter URLs. Additionally, some can manipulate and follow the links via the features, such as click analytics, retargeting, and UTM parameter support.
With URL shorteners, you can create shorter, more appealing URLs and take advantage of the ease of monitoring and adjusting your targeted audience. In addition to reducing the time it takes others to type and record long URLs, this also helps in analyzing which links were most clicked by the community. These short URLs also enable computer programs to collect data such as the number of times a link was clicked, its source, and who shared it. Several URL shorteners also hide cookies or referrers, but apart from that, they are all relatively similar.
Features That Make a Good URL Shortener?
This tool shortens long, awkward URLs into short, shareable ones. In this way, you can provide a clickable link on business cards, podcast interviews, print ads, or any place that does not allow hyperlinks. Although most platforms handle that for you, you can also use URL shorteners to compress long URLs to fit in messaging apps and social media. For example, Twitter’s t.co shortener service automatically shortens shared links, whereas iMessage obscures links behind previews. In addition to tracking analytics, good URL shorteners also track clicks.
Sharing an external website address is risky since you do not know who will click on it. In contrast, a URL shortener allows you to collect data, such as how many people click the link, where they came from, and which device they are using. In general, the more powerful and detailed these analytics are, the more expensive the service becomes.
URL Shortener Options
There are a number of options available when choosing a URL shortener the free option and paid options are outlined here.
Free Options: The free option is an excellent place to start. It allows you to try the service for a few days or for life. It will depend on your needs and wants. Most free services track clicks, but premium services gather more information and allow you to set up different URLs for people in other locations or using various devices. While free and basic plans may let you only alter the last few characters of the URL, business plans allow you to use your own domain.
Self-Hosted Options: URL shortener solutions such as Ow.ly, Yourls, and Polr, are free and powerful; however, they require technical expertise and are not user-friendly. OW.LY, for example, fully integrates with Hootsuite, but most newsletters offer tracking and URL shortening. These services are not inadequate, but they offer more than most people expect from a URL shortener. Let us look at some of the best options.
Bitly’s URL shortening service is the most popular option for large companies, and it is also an excellent service for a small business that produces a modest number of short URLs and tracks its performance. Shortening URLs with Bitly is an easy and popular way.
Bitly is a business-grade, full-service URL shortener. However, what sets it apart is its business features. Bitly’s simplicity and ease of use make it appealing. If you only shorten links occasionally, there is no need to sign up. On the homepage, paste your lengthy URL and click Shorten.
Free version: Bit.ly allows you to shorten links with the free services, while the premium service will enable you to use your custom domain. The free Bitly account allows you to customize up to 50 shortened URLs each month and monitor click rates and referrer information for 1,000 links monthly.
Paid version: The premium version includes features like link retargeting. It allows you to track individual links and view related analytics. The dashboard comprises over 20 data points in real-time, such as organic shares, visitor location, and more. A campaign tracking tool is also available.
Plans Option: Bitly has an excellent free plan that could be suitable for small businesses. See below plans:
- Free plan with limited customization.
- Basic plan includes a free customizable domain, 1,500 links monthly, and more information about the users who click on your links.
- Premium offers better analytics, more monthly links, support, as well as customized QR codes.
It is possible to automate short link creation from Instagram posts or
RSS feeds by using Bitly’s integration with Zapier.
The best option for anonymous URL shortening is TinyURL. It allows you to customize what appears in the shortened URL. You could, for example, tinyurl.com/bestURL, not something random such as tinyurl.com/abc123.
Features: It is not necessary to create an account with TinyURL – it is totally anonymous. With TinyURL, you can shorten any URL for free. This shortener is for you if you need a short URL that will not expire; this tool is for you. Simply paste the lengthy link, customize the second part of the URL, and click TinyURL! That link is then accessible for as long as you like without fear of it breaking. Using TinyURL is free, but a free account gives you access to your shortened links history.
Plan Options: TinyURL has a free version. A personal plan features analytics and tracking, brand domains, and custom URLs.
As far as link management goes, Rebrandly has the most advanced and scalable platform on the market for advanced users and custom projects. Rebrandly allows users to brand, track, and share short URLs using custom domain names. Like a URL shortener, it is excellent, but it has a distinct appeal. It lets you create and share branded links while you are surfing the web. You can use the best-in-class set of tools in your dashboard to measure results. APIs provided by the company and the support provided by expert engineers make it easy to build large and small projects around links (affiliates, SMS, and influencers).
Uses: With Rebrandly, you can choose over 2,000 extensions, from .shop to .link, including everything in between. Each link is easy to pronounce, memorable, and completely customizable. Companies can increase brand awareness with branded links since their names appear on the links – even if others share them.
Features: Rebrandly combines advanced URL shortening technology with tons of features. With this tool, you can create branded, shorter, custom, and memorable links. This URL shortener lets you build and share short links across multiple social networks. In addition, Rebrandly lets you create separate teammates and workspaces, making it an ideal URL shortener for groups, and offers advanced features such as link retargeting. With Rebrandly, you can track link popularity, see who has clicked on it, and generate QR codes automatically.
Other relevant features:
- Customizable reports
- UTM builder
- Control of graphs
- Mobile deep linking
- Conditional routing of URLs
- Management of multiple seats, permissions, domain names, and workspaces
Plan Options: Rebrandly offers five custom domains for free, most of any app, so you can customize the whole short URL. Each month, you can track 5,000 clicks per month and 500 links. Starter Plan offers 5,000 links monthly and 25,000 clicks monthly. Using Zapier, Rebrandly can auto-generate branded links for new Dropbox files and WordPress posts.
Check out Short.io if you’re looking for a URL shortener that puts your brand first. Using Short.io, you can personalize, create, and shorten links using your own domain. The Short.io tutorials walk you through every part of the platform, making it easy to track and create branded URLs.
Features: Short.io does an excellent job of tracking and analyzing your links. The clickstream feature of their website tracks data from each click in real-time, including browser, social network, country, date, and time. You can assign roles to team members, such as admin, user, owner, admin, or read-only, and the team members will have access to a specific set of tasks depending on their assigned role. You can route traffic to different pages on your site based on the location of the user. It is common for URL shorteners to track where people click your link and what devices they use, but this shortener goes a step further to let you target different locations and direct them to different URLs.
Plan Options: The free plan allows device targeting, 1,000 branded links, and 50,000 tracked clicks. The personal plan offers geo-targeting and 10,000 branded links. Short.io integrates with Zapier for creating short links from Shopify products and RSS feeds.
BL.INK provides businesses with the ability to create short, custom-branded links, which can elevate their brand identity and boost customer engagement and trust wherever they engage online. Since its founding in 2008 to meet the unique needs of the enterprise, BL.INK has built a platform that some of the largest, most respected, and most demanding brands in the world have enthusiastically adopted.
Features: BL.INK URL shortener has a beginner-friendly dashboard that tracks link activity. You can track traffic based on geography, language, device type, and even referrer to find out what is working and what is not. Moreover, you can see at what time your clicks are most engaging. Also, you can create custom short links with BL.INK to improve branding, and even with the beta version of SmartLink for highly targeted word-based URLs that will increase traffic. You can easily enable user permissions in your link shortener tool to make sure the right employees access the tool.
Plan Options: There are tiers of usage-based pricing available with BL.INK. A free plan comes with 1000 clicks/link, 1000 links, one custom domain, branded links, and Zapier integration.
With a URL shortener service, you can make your URLs more user-friendly, and you can track and analyze how they perform. If you’re sharing your blog posts, review the above article, and choose the best URL shortener for your needs.