URL shortening tools have become an essential resource in the digital landscape, offering a convenient solution to the challenge of lengthy and complex URLs. This blog will explore the world of URL-shortening tools, their functionalities, and how they can streamline your online presence. With these tools, you can transform long and cumbersome URLs into concise and easily shareable links. URL-shortening tools offer simplicity and efficiency, whether you’re sharing links on social media, sending them via email, or simply aiming for a more user-friendly web experience. Join us as we delve into URL shortening tools and discover how they can optimize your online communication, enhance tracking capabilities, and improve overall user experience.
What is a URL shortener?
A URL shortener is a tool that creates a short, unique URL that will redirect to the specific website of your choosing.
They make a URL shorter and simpler. Your new, shorter URL will typically include the shortener site’s address plus a combination of random letters.
For example, if I punched in a URL like
animalplanet.com/tv-shows/puppy-bowl/full-episodes/puppy-bowl-xvi into the “Hootsuite Ow.ly link shortener; it would generate ow.ly/uK2f50AJDI6.” This cuts the link down by 48 letters.
Sometimes, you can customize this mini URL with a custom phrase.
4 reasons to use a URL shortener
There are a lot of good reasons to use a URL shortener if you’re going to be sharing a link.
1. Long links can look suspicious
If you’re linking to a specific page buried deep on your website or are using UTM parameters to track your visitors, you might find yourself wrestling with a lengthy URL.
An oversized URL will look clunky anywhere you use it—in social posts, shared via text, or pasted into an email.
But worse than that, long URLs also look super suspicious. With so many letters, backslashes, numbers, and question marks, anything could happen when we click that link! Anything!
Keep things looking neat, tidy, and friendly with a URL that’s as short as possible.
2. A custom URL shortener lets you brand your links
If brand awareness is part of your social media strategy, a custom URL shortener is one more tool to help spread the word.
URL shorteners that allow you to customize your short link offer a chance to name-drop your brand. Link shortener, for example, lets you create a vanity short link in just a few clicks.
Especially if you’re using a free web hosting service or have an ISP that’s less than exciting, a custom URL shortener is a way to keep your brand front and center whenever you’re sharing links.
3. Link shorteners allow you to track performance
Most link-shortening sites will offer tracking metrics. This information about who clicked your link, where, and when will help you calculate the campaign’s ROI.
To easily track source traffic, create short links using different UTM parameters. Combine this with other analytics tools—like Google Analytics—and set yourself up for marketing success.
4. Short URLs allow you to get the most out-of-character limits on social media
Twitter has a strict character limit of 280, so keeping posts concise is key. Shortened URLs give you more room for that poignant observation about politics or the perfect punctuating emoji for your killer joke about hot dogs.
Even for posts on Facebook or Instagram, where the character limits are in the thousands, it’s still best to keep things short and sweet for readability and engagement. Short URLs help avoid TL;DR syndrome.
Another benefit of shorter links is that they’re also useful for IM or email, where longer links may be hard to read or disrupted by line breaks.
How Do URL shorteners work?
URL shorteners work by creating a redirect to your long URL.
Entering a URL into your internet browser sends an HTTP request to the webserver to pull up a specific website. The long and the short URLs are simply different starting points for an internet browser to reach the same destination.
There are a few types of redirect HTTP response codes, but look for ones that use a 301 permanent redirect: the other varieties may hurt your SEO ranking.
Best URL Shortening Tools
The Google URL shortener was shut down in the spring of 2019, but on the bright side, there are dozens of alternative options.
On the downside, there are dozens of alternative options out there. How do you know which to choose?
Our advice: look for shortener services that allow you to customize your link or have built-in detailed analytics. A URL shortening site that’s been around a while might also be more reliable and reputable, likely to avoid service closure or disruption.
A strong (and well-liked) tool for URL shortening is Bitly. Many people have long regarded it as the best URL shortener and for good reason!
The second-tier premium plan allows you to use your custom domain name with up to 1,500 shortened links per month, while the free option only allows you to shorten ten links per month using the Bit.ly domain name.
The link-in-bio feature, which has become a requirement for social media influencers and companies with a social media presence, is another service that Bitly provides besides URL shortening services. It also offers a QR code generator. Even the free edition allows you to use these. However, Bitly branding is included.
Additional features like link retargeting, link history, and customer assistance are available in Bitly’s subscription version. Additionally, you can track specific connections and receive relevant information on your dashboard. Even the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns for a certain area is measured.
- Connect custom domain
- Analytics dashboard
- Audience intelligence
- Custom URL
- Integration with 17 popular tools, including Zapier, Hubspot, and Sprout Social
- QR code generator
- Link-in-bio feature
- URL retargeting
Bitly offers its basic service for free. After that, premium plans start at $8 per month (paid annually for $96 per year). If you want additional features like a custom domain, plans start at $35 per month with monthly billing or $29 per month with annual billing.
An all-around platform is Tiny. Cc. It is among the finest free URL shorteners and offers a variety of highly useful paid packages, making it a strong candidate for the title of “best premium URL shortener.”
The program functions as a flexible connection management platform. You may use it to shorten URLs and share, update, organize, customize, and earn money from them. Its role is to shorten, clarify, and monetize your links. Your URLs can be transformed into editable, low-DPI QR codes that can be printed and distributed.
The system continues after that. It keeps track of your shortened links and creates visual infographics that reveal your click analytics and visitor demographics. The best part is that you may read all this information without creating an account.
Only registering for an account is required to manage and change the links. With their free plan, you can abbreviate URLs associated with your brand or domain, group them according to tags, hide affiliate links, create personalized redirects, view modification history, filter URLs, etc.
- Tracks QR Code campaigns.
- Shortens and monitors referrer or affiliate URLs.
- Tracks banner Ads for internet marketing.
- Measures the conversions for links.
- Generates simpler QR codes with lower dpi for printing.
- Supports high-volume commercial URLs.
- Shortens links using your brand or custom domain.
- Generates shareable, user-friendly URLs.
- Manages links.
While Tiny.cc offers one of the best free URL shortener platforms, you’ll be limited to 500 URLs, which is more than enough for individual users.
Otherwise, if you want to leverage the shortened URLs for marketing purposes or in your media publications, Tiny.cc will expand your capacity – but for a price.
- Basic – $5 per month
- Business – $25 per month
- Pro – $44 per month
The prices above are for month-to-month plans. Iupfronty up front for the year, you will pay even less per month than you see above. There’s also a fourth Enterprise plan for those who require large-scale URL shortening. You need to contact Tiny.cc directly to get a quote.
Sniply may be the right solution if you want to use content curation to generate significant conversions. Sniply lets you make quick, personalized links to articles, blog posts, and websites. It’s simple to post these links on social media. Users are directed to the pertinent content when they click on these succinct “Snips,” but the web page also features the Snip you prepared beside your Call-To-Action.
The CTA can be used repeatedly, or you can make new CTAs for other campaigns. The analytics dashboard allows users to monitor stats for clicks, conversions, and campaigns.
- Custom URL shortener
- Customized CTAs on each shortened URL
- Embeddable on articles and pages you share
- The dashboard monitors to track user interaction
- Integrates with other marketing and analytic tools to fine-tune campaigns
- Connects to your custom domain
Three main plans are available for Sniply:
- Basic – $9 per month
- Pro – $29 per month
- Business – $59 per month
There’s also an Enterprise plan for large operations, but you have to contact Sniply directly for a quote on that plan. All plans come with a 14-day free trial and a discount for annual payments. The number of team members, brands, and monthly clicks, as do the customization options, varies in the different plans.
Blink is a complete link management platform that offers a full solution for controlling, monitoring, and measuring every touch point in your engagement journey, making it more than just one of the best URL shortener options available. It enables you to integrate it with web analytics tools like Google and Adobe or use reports to examine link performance.
Using the platform’s open API, you can link with other tools, and it also provides a variety of other connection choices. Additionally, it can be scaled to support your entire business, from tiny one-person operations to vast teams running infinite campaigns.
If you still need more than that, Blink offers many security and privacy features, such as configurable user permissions and enterprise-grade security, to satisfy the compliance requirements of highly regulated industries.
- Shorten and customize links for better branding and tracking
- Dynamically route clicks by date, time, language, device, and location
- Analyze link performance using Blink reports or integrate with web analytics tools such as Google and Adobe
- Enable user permissions to ensure the right team members have access to what they need
- Pay only for what you need and scale to new pricing tiers as your team grows
- Custom short domains that support multiple TLD options, including .brand domains
Blink has four main plans and a fifth Enterprise option that requires you to contact them for pricing. Each plan comes with a 21-day free trial.
- Expert – $48 per month
- SMB – $99 per month
- Team – $299 per month
- Business – $599 per month
Although they don’t openly advertise a free option on the plans page, if you proceed with the registration process, they do mention it. Specifically, they state that you can continue using their free plan if you choose not to continue with the service after the 21-day free trial. No details are provided on what features come with the free plan, though.
The finest URL shortener for people who need a sizable amount of shortened URLs but yet want something affordable is TinyURL. And by affordable, we mean free.
They allow you to customize the URL portion after the backslash, which is one of its wonderful characteristics.
Instead of using a random URL like https://tinyurl.com/y3xvrfpg, you may make https://tinyurl.com/yourtexthere.
As previously said, TinyURL offers a sizable free plan, and thanks to its openness and scalability, its premium plans are also quite approachable. A few hundred to 5,000,000 active TinyURLs (no, that’s not a typo) can be added simply and gradually. Contact their sales staff for customized possibilities if more than five million is needed.
- Fast redirection
- Option to customize the shortened URL
- No expiration date on shortened URLs
TinyURL has a 100% free basic URL shortening service for individual users. It allows you to customize your links and keep track of your link history. For advanced features like analytics, you’ll need to upgrade to their premium plans, which are priced as follows:
- Pro – $12.99 per month
- Pro 5K – $35 per month
- Pro 50K – $249 per month
The prices above reflect month-to-month pricing, but upfront up front for the year, the per-month prices are even lower. In addition, TinyURL has an entirely separate set of high-volume plans for those that need many shortened URLs to use in SMS or other campaigns.
Cuttly offers an all-in-one link management platform with several tools for managing and analyzing short links, just like a few of the other alternatives on this list do, in addition to going beyond URL shortening. It is a powerful URL shortener with link analytics that enables you to track and evaluate the impact of clicks on shortened URLs. You may also generate QR Codes (even on the free plan) to provide your business with offline and online solutions.
Overall, it provides many tools to manage your links easily. It’s a fantastic tool for both novices and specialists. Whether you work for a small or large organization, are a blogger, or are in marketing, you will value this URL shortener. And if you ever get stuck, Cuttly also offers support, with an email response between two to 24 hours (on average).
- Provides extensive link analytics that allows you to track clicks on short links and measure their effectiveness
- Allows you to create your own Link-in-Bio microsites and generate QR Codes
- It comes with advanced features like UTM codes, A/B/C testing, pixel retargeting, and mobile redirects
- Enhanced security features like two-step verification to access your account
Cuttly has an extremely generous free URL shortener because it shortens your links and comes with many other link management features. The Cuttly free plan includes:
- One free branded (custom) domain
- Up to 1,000 links monthly
- One link-in-bio page with five links
- QR code generation
If you want even more features, there are three premium plans available. They are priced at:
- Single – $25 per month
- Team – $99 per month
- Enterprise – $149 per month
If you pay upfront for the year, the per-month prices are even lower than what you see listed above. Regarding value, when you consider the price points and the features provided, this is probably the best URL shortener on the list.
Popular social media management software includes Hootsuite. You may shorten your links for social networking or other uses using the Hootsuite tool Ow.ly.
This is undoubtedly the finest URL shortener if you currently use Hootsuite. From the Hootsuite dashboard, you can access Ow.ly. You can also examine metrics for your shortened URLs from there.
- URL Performance metrics
- Link retargeting
- Trackable short links
- Mobile platform supportive
- Rank monitoring
- Demonstrate social ROI
Ow.ly is included with both free and premium Hootsuite plans. So, while creating a Hootsuite account to take advantage of it, you don’t need to pay extra to use it specifically. Hootsuite plans start at $99 monthly (billed annually) and come with a 30-day free trial.
Advanced URL shortening technology with a tonne of functionality is available from Rebrandly. This online tool lets you make personalized, branded, and succinct connections that people will remember. This URL shortener allows you to create and distribute short links across various social networks.
Rebrandly may be the finest URL shortener for teams because it enables you to segregate workspaces and teammates. It also has additional features like support for link retargeting.
- Bulk link creation
- UTM paramAccessAPI access
- 100+ app integrations
- Emojis on short links
- Rapid auto-scaling servers
- Private Reporting
- Custom reports
- Click tracking
Rebrandly offers a limited free plan that supports 500 links and 5,000 clicks per month. After that, there are various paid plans:
- Essentials – $24 per month
- Professional – $75 per month
- Teams – $417 per month
There’s also an Enterprise plan, but you must contact Rebrandly directly to get a quote. The prices above reflect the per-month cost when purchasing an annual plan. If you pay monthly, Rebrandly will charge you a bit more.
T2M is another intriguing competitor on our list of the top URL shorteners. The ease of use of this link-shortening method will win you over. They offer two distinct dashboards to make URL tracking simpler. One is for devices or platforms, while the other is for location analytics. Even a QR code and a brief URL are generated.
Because T2M uses dedicated instances, each user will receive a server response entirely focused on them. This guarantees a quick redirect to your desired URL. You can choose where the link should operate or establish short, branded URLs to increase clickthrough rates.
With the premium plan, you can build more sophisticated URLs, including vanity and password-protected URLs. It’s the ideal option for online businesses looking for flexible, brief URLs.
- No spam policy
- Personalized short URLs
- Full-scale analytics
- One-click domain mapping
- Bulk URL creation
- Unlimited API
- No-expiry URL
- Dedicated instance
- Auto-generated QR code
- CSV Import
If you want to use the basic T2M service, T2M offers a basic tier for a $5 one-time fee. The $5 is just for verification and to cut down on spam – there are no ongoing fees.
After that, there are four premium plans. The prices below reflect the month-to-month costs:
- Standard – $9.99 per month
- Pro – $29.99 per month
- Premium – $89.99 per month
- Dedicated – talk to sales
Iupfronty up front for the year, you’ll get three months for free, bringing down the per-month prices you see above.
ClickMeter is more of a click-rate optimizer than a URL shortener. Numerous features will enable you to construct a URL with a few clicks. ClickMeter is more geared towards marketers and marketing firms that work with Google AdWords or other ad networks.
It works like a charm for web administrators with a global audience and numerous languages. You may easily interface with well-liked content management systems like Shopify and WordPress in addition to location-based targeting. The dashboard for Clickmeter offers a thorough analysis report.
- Multilingual support
- URL encryption
- Bulk link creation
- Branded tracking links
- Multiple API keys
- Google Analytics UTM support
- Device-based targeting
- Clone links
ClickMeter has three premium plans, all of which offer a 30-day money-back guarantee:
- Medium – $29 per month
- Large – $99 per month
- X-Large – $349 per month
In conclusion, URL-shortening tools have become indispensable in our online interactions. They offer a practical and efficient way to share links, particularly in platforms with character limitations or when visual aesthetics matter. By condensing URLs into shorter, more manageable forms, these tools enhance the user experience and provide valuable tracking and analytics features. Whether you’re looking to track link performance, customize URLs, or simply make sharing easier, the wide array of URL-shortening tools available today has covered you. Explore the options in this guide and find the one that best suits your needs. Start optimizing your links and enjoy a smoother online experience.
What is a URL shortening tool?
A URL shortening tool is an online service that takes long, complex website addresses (URLs) and generates shorter, more manageable links.
How does a URL shortening tool work?
URL shortening tools use a redirection technique, where a short link is created and associated with the original long URL. When someone clicks on the short link, they are automatically redirected to the intended webpage.
Why should I use a URL-shortening tool?
URL shortening tools offer several benefits, such as making long links more visually appealing, saving character space on social media platforms with limited character counts, and providing analytics to track link clicks and engagement.
Are URL shortening tools safe to use?
Most reputable URL-shortening tools are safe to use. However, it’s essential to be cautious when clicking on short links from unknown sources, as they may lead to malicious websites. Stick to trusted and reliable URL-shortening services.
Can I customize the shortened URLs?
Many URL shortening tools allow you to customize the shortened links with your preferred keywords or branding. Customizing the URLs can help reinforce your brand identity and make the links more memorable for your audience.