A simple web page allows users to paste long copied links into an input and click the button, which takes them to a new page or shortens the link on the same place immediately. That’s how some 50 active URL shortening services work nowadays.
The most enthusiastic developers have gone further and started to include options analyzing the content on shortened links and offering the resulting data to clients.
Sounds as simple as 1, 2, 3, yet many still don’t use this trick to make the long links more pretty when posting on different platforms. Others benefit from shortening programs, including affiliate program users with the ability to implement marketing strategies.
This technique which is not an innovation nowadays, is very convenient for micro blogging site users such as Twitter or weibo, with some limited number of characters that could be used in one message. Also major companies with a big fan base on Facebook or other big social networks can shorten the links and make their posts more catchy. Not to mention the benefit of short links when sending via emails.
Uniform resource locator or as commonly known as URL available to substantially shorter in length and still direct to the required page. This in fact becomes achievable by redirection on a domain name that is short, which links to the web page that has a longer URL.
Let me speak about some major URL shortening services which would help users to progress in their work.
Default WordPress URL Shortener
I’d like to start with the basics. The simplest way to shorten your URL has already been created over your WordPress site.
The URL editor allows you to make short links shorter when creating a new post or page. WP automatically adds the first sentence as the default URL name of your post, yet you can edit the URL and make it shorter.
You may also use the well-known Jetpack plugin, created by Automattic, the owners of WordPress.com itself. After the installation of this plugin, which includes traffic and customization tools, enhanced security, speed boosts and more, you may use it to shorten the long links and even make them SEO friendly.
With the highest number of shortened links in the field, Bitly shortens over 600 million links per month. Launched in 2008 as a privately held service based in New York, Bitly is on 738 position of Alexa’s traffic rank staying behind Google URL shortener only, which is on 234th position.
Yet seems that the traffic position is the main break between Google Shortener and Bitly, because this second guy has a lot more to offer. In the contrast with Google’s shortener, which offers free and very basic stats including potential to create custom short URLs up to 10,000 times a day, an advanced dashboard and some click tracking options are also available; covering the time period of the clicks, geolocation, recognising the device of the user and organising bitlinks via custom tags. Depending on your audience the Pro subscription can cost from around $450-$950 a month, yet they claim that each and every inquiry is individual and price calculation is very tailored.
Back in 2009 Google announced its new service called Google URL Shortener at goo.gl. The shortner was originally available to use through Google products including Google Toolbar and FeedBurner and was also serving as an extensions for Google Chrome browser. At the end of 2009, Google introduced a YouTube URL Shortener at youtu.be, claiming to be the next best tool to shorten long YouTube Playlists and Channel URls. From September 2010 Google URL Shortener became available via direct interface. Today goo.gl service provides analytic details and a QR code generator.
Comparing with Bitly, Google’s URL shortener has more simple analytic system, including counting the number of links for the past hours, days, weeks, months or all time period.
When speaking about disadvantages of Google’s shortener I may name absence of URL archive options; users cannot use custom domains and there is no chance to log in with any of your accounts, including Google services, that would have helped to save some data and archive valuable information of your shortened URLs.
Owl.ly is hosted by popular social relationship platform called Hootsuite.
HootSuite URL shortener used to be a unique tool having this awesome option to upload an image or a document and then give you a unique shot URL allowing to post and share over the web, yet due to some security reasons the feature has been taken down.
Developers were very enthusiastic when launching this shortener, claiming that besides the image and document upload option they were about to include video upload functionality, yet that never happened. Nowadays Owl.ly is pretty basic stand-alone shortener on the web, or while logged on to the HootSuite dashboard on the web or mobile.
And the last, but not least shortener is actually a WordPress plugin. Yes, its a nice aid you can use right on your dashboard.
Besides the ability to shorten your links and make them pretty, this plugin has really awesome features that include link bookmarks, options to organize links into groups, chance to track every single click with information about IP address, remote host, browser (including browser version), operating system, and referring site, it also enables users to send Pretty Links via Email directly from WordPress admin panel and more.
The plugin also comes with two pro versions including Developer Edition for $97 and Blogger Edition with one year subscription costing $37, opening doors to lifetime automatic updates, Affiliate Link Cloaker options and support system.
As a conclusion to this article, I’d only mention that all five tools are pretty useful. WordPress URL Shortener and Pretty Link Lite will help the users who run startups with short budget, the ones who still in a need to discover or built a strategy for their website. Owl and Google URL shorteners are pretty basic, very simple tools for those who don’t want to pay extra cash. And the Bitly, this guy is really big, of course you’ll still have a lot of available options in lite version, but big companies with professionals would like to stick with this product, of course ready to pay a big amount of money for monthly subscription.