When you start adding UTM tags to URLs, they can get even longer, and more complex. We need these tags to help us track the URLs, but the longer they are, the less likely people are to remember them. That’s where the URL shortener comes in to save the day. They shrink the number of characters in the URL to make it easier to share the link online, whether it’s via email, social media, or downloadable PDF.
Some services provide the ability to track the link clicks and keep an archive of every URL you shorten, while others simply provide a shortened URL. A professional digital marketing agency will often use this technology to track progress and adapt based on results.
Many social media scheduling platforms and analytics tools offer built-in URL shortening, as well. Buffer will automatically use their URL shortener to shorten any link you put in their system.
If you’re looking for a service to use to start managing the length of your URLs a bit better, here’s a list of options to choose from.
URL Shorteners to Choose From
- 7.ly: An easy to use URL shortener that provides click statistics.
- ADF.ly: This is a URL shortener service that pays their users for using it. You earn money for every person who visits your link. http://adf.ly/ropye
- Al.ly: Another URL shortener that pays you based on the number of clicks on your links.
- Bc.vc: Shorten your URLs and earn money on your clicks. Sign up for an account to start earning from your shared links.
- Bit.do: A simple URL shortener that allows you to shorten, customize, and track your links.
- Bit.ly: Shorten your links and track the clicks on them. Example: bit.ly/c92v5e6
- Bitly.com: Another URL used to access the Bit.ly shortener.
- T.co: Twitter’s URL shortener – can only be used on the social network.Example: https://t.co/Lwdslj087
- Lnkd.in: LinkedIn’s URL shortener – can only be used on LinkedIn. Example:
- Cur.lv: The URL shortener by CoinURL.com – a bitcoin-based advertising URL shortener option to monetize your content with bitcoin. Adding a + symbol will allow you to see stats for the link.
- TinyURL.com: A popular URL shortener that can generate its own shorter URL but also gives you the option to create a custom alias. The URLs won’t break in email or expire.
- Ow.ly: A popular URL shortening service that lets you shorten links, share files, and track visits.
- Ity.im: Another URL shortener that pays you based on the number of clicks on your links.
- Q.gs: Another URL to access the Adfly shortener.
- Is.gd: Shorten links with random or customized URL.
- Po.st: Social sharing platform that includes a URL shortener.
- U.bb: Another URL to access the Adfly shortener.
- Qr.net: QR code creator from your standard URL.
- S.id: An easy to use URL shortener.
- Ph.dog: Basic URL shortener.
- Tiny.cc: Another easy to use URL shortener that provides click statistics.
- Sptfy.com: A tool used specifically to shorten Spotify links.
- Tny.im: A simple URL shortening tool
- Goo.gl: Google URL shortener. Example: http://goo.gl/sjpos4t
- Tr.im: Link shortener with the ability to create custom keyword short links to help drive engagement and improve click through rate.
- X.co: A URL shortening and URL redirection service from GoDaddy. You must have an account to use this service.
- V.gd: Shorten links with random or customized URL.
- Cutt.us: Basic URL shortener, also includes a multi-URL shortener tool.
- J.mp: Another URL used to access the Bit.ly shortener.
- U.to:Shorten any link. You’ll need to create an account and login to see the statistics related to the number of clicks.
- YOURLS.org: This is a free open source script that allows you to run your own URL shortening service so you can control the domain. Run your own TinyURL or Bitly, and include stats.
- PrettyLinkPro.com: This is a paid service that allows you to cloak affiliate links and shortens URLs. Pricing runs from $47/year to $197/year depending on the number of sites you want to use it on.
- Filoops.info: This site offers a URL shortener, a URL tracker, domain WHOIS lookup, and a Google Ad Stripper from AdSense links.
- Db.tt: The URL shortener Dropbox uses. Example:
- doiop.com: A basic URL shortener that allows you to choose either a random URL or a keyword based short URL.
- wp.me: WordPress URL shortener
- Yep.it: Basic URL shortener
Many major brands have their own branded short links, including:
- am (Instagram)
- ms (New Your Times)
- me (Nike)
- did.as (Adidas)
- be (YouTube)
When you see the Instagr.am or Youtu.be short links, you’re more likely to click on them because you’re familiar with the brands and trust them. Having your own branded short URL builds trust and credibility, and creates consistency. It can help you build and expand your following, and will stand out more than a standard bit.ly link.
If you want to create your own, you’ll want to sign up for a free account with Bit.ly.
Next, find and buy the custom domain you want to use. You can use a service like Domainr or DomainsBot to generate a list of ideas and to determine which options are available. Some things to remember:
- Keep it short and make it memorable. Use international domains to create words ending in ly, im, is, co, me, it, or am.
- If you have a long name, shorten it by dropping letters or using initials.
Once you’ve decided on a domain, you’ll have to choose a registrar for it and purchase it. If you use Domainr, they will provide recommendations for where you should buy the domain, and about how much you’ll pay for it. You’ll also see any promo codes required to get the pricing.
After you buy your domain, go back to your Bit.ly account. Follow these steps:
- Go to Settings in the top right menu.
- Click “Advanced”
- Select “Add a custom short domain”.
- Type your domain, then add.
- You’ll be taken to the verification screen. Follow the steps to verify your ownership of the domain.
At this point, you’ll have to wait about 24 hours for the domain to be added to your account. When you see your domain is added in the custom short name drop down, you’ll know it is available for use.
You can create your own custom short URLs with Bitly tools or using Buffer, Hootsuite, or other tools that work with Bitly.
Use your custom URL for links to any of your content, name, brand, photos, or blog posts. This will build consistency with your brand. Don’t use it for every social media post.
URL shortners make it easy to fit long and complex URLs into social media posts where there are character limits. Using the right service also makes it easy to track link clicks, which is helpful when you’re sharing content that you don’t have access to the analytics data for.
Do you have a favorite URL shortener? Share it with me.