Ever been mid Tweet and realized you don’t have enough characters to post a link to your brand new blog post? As you scramble to cut your Tweet down, remember that there’s an easier solution––a URL shortener.
Using URL shorteners means you can cut long and messy URLs down into a few customizable characters.
URL shorteners are useful to anyone with a website, social media accounts, and a brand they want to promote.
Here’s why you need a URL shortener and our pick of the eight best options.
Why do you need a URL shortener?
If you’re sharing links, there are lots of advantages to using URL shorteners.
Create custom brand links. URL shorteners that allow you to customize your short link give you an opportunity to insert your brand name and promote it.
Track performance. Most URL shorteners enable you to track your link performance. Tracking data like who clicked your link, when and where will help you calculate the campaign’s ROI.
Make the most of character limits. Social media platforms like Twitter often have low character limits. Twitter for instance doesn’t allow you to go over 280 characters. Keeping posts short is vital and shortened URLs give you more space to talk about the content you’re promoting.
Short links are tidier. If you’re linking to a web page deep on your website or using UTM parameters to track your visitors, you may end up with a long URL. A long URL looks messy and clunky wherever you post it—whether that’s social media, emails or text. URL shorteners keep your links looking tidy and trustworthy.
8 best URL shorteners
Here are some of the best URL shorteners available to help you cut down those long URLs.
1. Bitly [Best overall URL shortener]
Bitly creates branded links that ensure your brand is never hidden behind generic URLs.
If you need any convincing about using branded links, remember that using your chosen domain name makes links instantly recognizable and according to Bitly, can increase a business’s clicks by up to 34%.
If you just need to shorten links occasionally, you can use Bitly without creating an account. Simply paste your full URL into the box on the homepage, click shorten and you have your shortened URL ready to go.
However, Bitly’s business features are where the URL shortener truly shines. It has a complete dashboard where you can view 20 data points all updated in real-time like clicks, top referring channels, and geographic data. These metrics take any guesswork out of your link performance so you can focus on sharing more of what your audience wants.
Pricing: A Basic plan supports up to 1,500 branded links/month and is $35. A Premium plan allows up to 3,000 branded links/month and is $300.
2. Shorby [Best for Instagram users]
Shorby is specially designed for Instagram users. Instead of just shortening a long URL, Shorby has been created with Instagram’s single link in bio format front of mind.
Most Instagram creators and business owners update their link in bio with links to products, blog posts, videos, and podcasts. Shorby makes life easier by giving users a customizable short URL profile that can be updated and show more than one thing at a time. Instead of having to change the short URL in your Instagram bio, you can just add your latest content to Shorby and leave the link as it is.
Other cool features include creating call-to-action boxes for communication channels like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or Skype. You can also track your URL performance with Shorby’s analytics tools. If you want to add links to specific web content, use Blocks to showcase dynamic content from YouTube and online shops. This is great if you use Instagram to promote content and products on other sites.
Pricing: A Rocket plan includes 5 smart pages and is $15/month. A Pro plan includes 50 smart pages and analytics tools and is $29/month.
If you want to shorten URLs and encourage your audience to take action after viewing your content, Sniply could be the best URL shortener for you.
Sniply’s standout feature is that you can add a CTA over any link you share. That means that when someone follows a link from your Facebook post to your YouTube video, at the bottom of the page you can generate a pop-up encouraging them to subscribe to your channel for more videos. This handy feature is perfect if you need more signups, contacts, or purchases.
You can build forms, image, and text CTAs that appear when anyone clicks on the URL. There are also analytics and tracking tools that show you link clicks, interactions with CTAs and the time spent on the page too.
Pricing: A Basic plan supports 2 brand profiles and up to 5,000 clicks per month at $29. A Pro plan supports 6 brand profiles and up to 20,000 clicks per month at $79.
4. TinyURL [Best for anonymous use]
If you need a quick solution for shortening your URLs and don’t want to register an account, TinyURL could be the right URL shortener for you.
TinyURL is free to use if you don’t mind not using your domain and only customizing the end of the shortened URL.
If you want access to more features, you can sign up for a paid plan and create your own custom branded links. Paid plans also enable you to find out how your links are performing, who clicks on your links, from where, and from what device.
Pricing: Free for unbranded links. The Pro plan starts at $12.99/month and allows up to 500 active TinyURLs.
While Rebrandly does a similar job to other URL shorteners on this list, its focus on custom branding makes it a powerful tool for those looking to customize references to them or products across the internet.
For example, someone could change the long URL to their YouTube video channel to start with their personal name first followed by YouTube.
YouTuber PewDiePie could change the long URL www.youtube.com/user/pewdiepie to www.pewdiepie.com/youtube. He could use this customized URL on his site, social media, or in ads.
Their free tier offers five custom domains––more than any other shortener on the list. You can also customize the whole short URL and not just the second half of it.
Tracking tools provide data on the popularity of each link, who is clicking your links and automatically generates QR codes too.
Pricing: A Free plan allows up to 500 branded links and 5,000 tracked clicks per month. A Starter plan is $29/month and provides 5,000 branded links with 25,000 clicks tracked per month.
If real-time URL data is a priority for you, Hyperlink could be the best URL shortener for you. You can get real-time notifications when people click on your links or change the settings to hourly, weekly, or monthly summaries. You can also configure your settings to receive notifications via Slack and Zapier or as traditional push notifications.
Hyperlink also gives you per-click breakdowns showing you the device, location, and referral info for every visitor, along with a live tracking dashboard. That way you don’t need to worry that you’re looking at outdated numbers.
A Chrome extension means you can conveniently shorten URLs directly from your browser.
Pricing: A Free plan gives you 100 URLs and unlimited clicks but doesn’t allow you to customize your domain. A Standard plan gives you unlimited branded links and provides you with a custom domain at $49/month.
Shorte.ST makes it easy for you to monetize links and send the correct URLs to the right audience.
When users click on a URL, they see an ad on an intermediate page before reaching the destination page. You then receive a commission for each time someone views the ad.
Most URL shorteners let you know where people are clicking on your links and from which device. However, Shorte.ST takes this a few steps further and allows you to send a different customized link to visitors in different locations or using different devices.
This is helpful if you want to ensure that visitors from different locations see the right currency or that different device users receive the right app download link. The Statistics and Click Stream sections are helpful for digging deep into the data around when, where, and how users are clicking on your links.
Integrations with Slack, Zapier and Google Chrome make it easier to shorten URLs without even leaving the app you’re working in.
Pricing: A Free plan gives you 1,000 branded links and 50,000 tracked clicks. A Personal plan is $20/month and provides unlimited branded links, tracked clicks and provides more features like country targeting.
8. BL.INK [For business owners]
BL.INK is a full-suite URL shortener that can shorten your long URLs and provide you with powerful real-time analytics.
Link Management features go beyond just creating shorter URLs and help you manage, measure, and monitor every touchpoint in the customer journey. Analyze traffic by device, location, and referrers. Sort your clicks by time of day and see when your audience are most likely to click on your links.
BL.INK’s easy to use dashboard makes it simple for teams or solo users to scale up their operations and shorten large quantities of URLs at once. Flexible user permissions and security make it easy for business managers to add or remove team members.
Pricing: An Expert+ plan includes 10,000 active links, 15 domains and is $48/month. An SMB plan provides 50,000 active links, 30 domains and is $99/month.
Best URL shortener: AppSumo’s final verdict
The right URL shortener for you depends on how many active links you need, whether you want analytics tools, and if you’d like to customize the domain. If you have a strict budget and don’t mind limited customization, TinyURL is a great option.
If you want access to powerful data tracking tools, Hyperlink is a top choice. But if you plan on just using your URL shortener for Instagram links, Shorby is a better option.
Figure out your priorities and what you’ll be using the URL shortener for and then as with all software, use the free tiers and trials before committing.
If you’re looking for the best software available today to help you scale your business, check out the AppSumo store for top lifetime and annual deals.