Most people, a free URL shortener will be all they need. If you are only using it to share a handful of links on your personal social channels, or running a small local business, then you will never really need a paid version.
But if you’re a medium-to-large business looking to run an efficient and effective affiliate marketing campaign, link building/email outreach program, or use SEO friendly tracking parameters in your ads (like Google Ads) – then this guide may help you choose the right URL Shortener for your needs!
Let's begin with some background information to understand the difference between URL Shorteners & Link Management Services:
URL shorteners shorten long URLs into easy to remember short URLs that can be easily shared on social networks or via email. It is used to improve the readability of any web address while sharing on social media, forums, or anywhere on the web. Most URL shorteners are free with minimal features and are perfect for personal use.
Link management services do both jobs in one place! They not only shorten your links but provide advanced tracking & analytics while making it easy to share links across multiple platforms (email, social media). The best part? Your links look great everywhere. These services often have a standard version free to use with some limitations and also offer paid versions starting at around £5 per month for unlimited use for most users. Now you're ready to find the right URL shortener service for your needs.
Free URL Shortener tools: This gives you the best of both worlds as your links can be tracked and shortened all in one place for easy sharing across social media & email. The downsides are that they may not provide analytics or as many advanced/seo features as their paid counterparts (similar to Gmail vs Gsuite).
Paid Link Management services: Each service is different with varying features and prices, but typically these services will shortening standard version limits like max link character length, # of URLs, tracking code placement on page (header or footer), etc… You must be careful when checking out each service's fine print to make sure you don’t get charged extra fees for something you didn’t intend to use. This is why we recommend our users make a checklist of what they like and don’t like about each service before signing up for a paid version.
So which URL Shortener should you choose? Here is the list:
-Simple Image Sharer (free): A basic url shortening tool built into their image uploader where images become your links on social media like Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter. However, there's no analytics and limited features on this free version. If that works for you then go ahead and use it! Or consider using another tool below that offers similar features but without limitations or ads on their free versions.
Blogger Dashboard: A basic link management service with some limited features like link shortening, customisable links (logos), no ads and no paid version.
-Bitly (free): A free service that is considered one of the most popular URL Shorteners on the web with a ton of advanced features for marketers and SEO pros. They have a wide range of analytics tools, powerful tracking platforms, built in insertable tracking codes & link management system under their ‘tools’ tab. Their "Pro" plan offers more advanced features such as competitor analysis at very affordable prices ($20/month). The downside is that they have an ad banner at the top of each shortened link which you might find annoying.
-Biteable ($5/month for Lite Plan): A quick way to earn your customers’ attention is to have your logo/branding appear when they share the link you created on their social network. Biteable makes that simple with just a few clicks. Their pricing plans start at $5 per month where you get unlimited branding & shorten links, SSL protection for secure sharing, and no ads on your shortened links. They also have an affordable Enterprise plan for large businesses where they pay $100+ per month to remove all branding features and use customised branded short URLs instead!
-AdNabu (free): A basic free URL shortening service which allows you to easily shorten and share any url as well as automatically generating shortened versions of long urls within text messages. The downside is it does not offer many advanced features like analytics, tracking codes, or link management.
-Bitly (free): Another popular free URL shortening service that also offers a wide range of analytic reports for each shortened link. Their free version allows you to shorten up to 500 links per month which should be enough for most personal users. The downside is they have ads on their shortened links but it's not too intrusive and doesn't take away from the user experience much.
-Ow.ly (free): The first thing that stands out about this free service is that they offer customisable branding through your ow.ly/username url where your logo/branding appears on the shortened link in social media feeds across the web! They also offer click tracking & analytics which is great if you're wanting to track conversions between social media & your website.
-Goo.gl (free): Google URL shortening tool that allows you to create customisable shortened urls with 300+ customisable characters. They also have the ability to insert tracking codes within their platform for traffic analytics across any of the different social networks or websites you share it on. The downside is they only allow 500 goo.gl links per day, but they are unlimited if you upgrade for $5/month & remove ads from your links!
-Shortest (free): A fast and easy link shortener with no limit on # of short urls or # of times each link can be shared! They offer basic analytics without the need to upgrade.
-TinyUrl (free): One of the best free tools with a simple interface that allows you to generate short urls, easily share them across social media platforms, and shorten entire blocks of text/URLs into something simple yet memorable without losing any content! The downside is this tool is not mobile friendly so it's only recommended for desktop users.
-BitlyPro ($19.99 per month): The paid version offers all the same features as bitly's "pro" plan including advanced analytics reports but there are no ads on your shortened links & unlimited link tracking! If you have more than 500 social followers then this would be an affordable solution for you, but if your following is less than 1k
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