The Ultimate Guide to when, how, and why you should use a URL shortener

The Ultimate Guide to when, how, and why you should use a URL shortener


If you do any sort of social media marketing, wouldn’t it be useful to have a short URL for your Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn posts?


How about if you’re an entrepreneur trying to get your site ranked by search engines - wouldn’t it help if you could track how many people clicked on links in your press releases?


Or what about simply forwarding links from one email to another? It can become very cumbersome when clicking a shortened link that leads nowhere. And sometimes even the owner of a long link doesn’t know where it will take you… until they click.

You use a URL shortener when:

1) You need to post something online but don’t want readers/followers to go off-site.2) You’re an online marketer and need to track where your links are going in order to optimize your efforts3) You want a short link for forwarding emails

4) It can be useful when you’d like a personal URL on social media sites, but the application only allows 5 or 10 character URLs.5) A shortened link will make it easier to retweet, share on LinkedIn, Google+, Facebook etc.6) If you have a long, complex link which includes variables that might change from use to use [think of the “session/unique_id=XYZ123456” type links], then it would be more efficient if all that was left was the domain name with no tracking variables attached.


A shortened URL can take you directly to an online location, offer more information on the destination, raise awareness of your brand and save time for readers. The Red Cross uses a shortened URL in its Twitter posts so that it can fit more information into its messages. Additionally, you can attach campaign codes to your links to measure the success of campaigns that are being promoted through social media sites or email subscriptions, then click-throughs will be accurately tracked back to their source.


It’s an absolute no-brainer why one would opt for using a link shortener. But which one is right for you? We’ll go over some of the more popular choices out there today.

The foundation of a URL shortener is the main website [in our case,] and the software that runs on it. The software not only takes care of everything technical [domain names, redirecting addresses to their final location, tracking variables if any etc], but it also allows you to create access-restricted links, choose link options such as expiration date, password protection etc., see detailed stats of clicks and conversions etc…

There are currently over 80 services operating worldwide which provide shortened URLs for their users. They have different features and some even offer free service while others charge you based on how many shortened links you use each month. Here's a look at some popular ones:

t . me : Offers more options for customization and sharing of links. When you paste a link into a message, it is automatically shortened before being posted.

t . co : You can forward emails to Bitly with the subject line of “shrt:” followed by your original email text and an automated system will shorten your URL from there. This helps avoid having to copy and paste the link yourself.

i . bit : Another popular option if you want to simply post URLs across social media without much fuss.

u . bb : A great choice if you share links via Twitter frequently as they offer both free and paid accounts starting at $1 per month depending on number of links shared each month. Plus they provide detailed stats about click throughs etc.


t . co : Provides stats for each link that is shortened which you can view in any browser. They also offer shortcuts to shorten links by simple entering “” before the original URL - this helps ensure your online audience sees

u . bb : One of the most popular choices out there, they offer detailed stats on clickthroughs and conversion rates etc. A free plan with up to 100 shortening requests per month kicks in when you don't need analytics tools - but if you're eager to see your results then go for their premium plans.

i . bit : Great option if you want a site that focuses solely on offering shortened URLs without much fuss or hassle.

s . ly : Provides a simple API for developers to integrate shortened URLs into their own sites and apps etc.

To make your link stand out from the rest, you can use a custom domain name that is free with every Bitly account - just type “” before any existing short URL to create your own branded one. These domains are ideal if you want people to easily recognize your links as being from your website or brand by using something like rather than a standard address which users may not be able to keep in mind or easily type in correctly during a hectic online session. Also, it makes it easier for others who wish to share the link on social media sites which can often have character limits.

i . bit : Offers a full set of custom branding options via your own domain including your logo for free, however it doesn't offer password protection, click tracking etc.

t . me : Provides premium accounts with extensive options to customize and brand links in many ways such as adding password protection, customized text messages on the landing page, branded logos and more. There is also an option to use your own domain name if you choose to go that route too.

w . ws : This site offers a simple link shortening service for sharing links online with others [much like Google's “”]. A paid plan enables you to add click tracking and expiration date

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