Does your business need a URL shortener?
Well-crafted URLs are an important (yet often overlooked) element of a successful SEO strategy. A smaller URL is more likely to catch your audience’s attention than a jarring string of letters and numbers. It can also help build trust among your audience and generate higher click rates to your site.
The simplest way to create clean, enticing URLs is by using a URL shortening tool. No matter the size of your business or budget, this article will help you find the best URL shortener for your unique needs.
What is a URL Shortener?
A URL shortener is exactly what it sounds like: a tool that turns long, complicated URLs into smaller, bite-sized links. Some URL shortening services offer features that go beyond simply shrinking links, including URL customization, embedding UTM parameters, and link tracking and analytics. Understanding which of these features to leverage for your business is key to determining the best URL shortener for you.
To conduct a thorough audit of your needs, consider these questions:
What’s your budget?
Many URL shorteners offer free and paid versions of their services, some of which can cost upwards of $500 per month. Understanding how much you’re able to spend will help you choose the best URL shortener for your business.
How many people are on your team?
Are you flying solo, or are you working as part of a team? If you’re on your own, chances are a free URL shortener will meet your needs just fine. But if you’re working with others, you might need a more robust service that provides access to collaborative workspaces.
What do you need it for?
Are you looking to track links in Google Analytics? If so, you’ll want to make sure your link shortener can embed UTM parameters. Perhaps you’re looking to drive brand awareness — the best URL shortener for you should offer a customization tool. And if you need a shortened link for social media? You should be able to customize your link to drive clicks and track key analytics in a single platform.
Whether you’ve got a stacked agency budget and a team behind you, or you’re simply looking for a quick and free solution, the Internet is full of options. Here are some of the best URL shorteners.
Best URL Shorteners
Cuttly offers a variety of features, including link shortening, branded link creation, and advanced analytics. Best of all, it’s absolutely free to use. Cuttly allows users to track each shortened link in real time and measure its performance. It also offers a UTM code generator for registered users.
Short URL is a no-frills site that allows for the shortening, sharing, and tracking of links. There’s no customization tool on this platform, but for those looking for a straightforward and free URL shortener, this is a great place to start.
TinyURL.com is a free site that offers both URL shortening and customization. What we like about this tool (besides it being free, of course) is that it’s easily integrated into your browser’s toolbar. Clicking on the toolbar button will then create a tiny URL for the current page you’re on. However, Tiny URL doesn’t possess link tracking abilities.
Other URL shorteners offer paid and enterprise plans. Paying for a URL shortener can give you access to services like on-call customer support, link management, traffic routing, and collaborative workspaces. If that sounds like something your business could benefit from, try opting for one of these paid URL shorteners.
Rebrandly is a link management platform to brand, track and share short URLs using a custom domain name. Rebrandly does provide a free service, but it caps its tracked clicks at 5,000 per month. Plans range between $29 and $499 per month, or you can contact Rebrandly for custom pricing.
Clickmeter helps businesses optimize clickthrough and conversion rates through the management, racking, and monitoring of shortened URLs. Users have access to tools like click and conversion tracking, URL shortening, branded domains, A/B testing, and dynamic traffic redirects. Plans range from $29 per month to $349 per month.
Business that use branded links report a 34% increase in clicks to their website. With Bitly, you can create custom branded links that remain consistently recognizable across any channel. Bitly integrates with nearly every social media and digital marketing tool and offers analytics tracking tools on a single interface. You can get started for free or at $39/month with a basic plan. Contact Bitly for a custom plan.
7. Ow.ly by Hootsuite
Social media managers, rejoice — Ow.ly will help you shorten links, measure traffic, and demonstrate social ROI right inside the Hootsuite dashboard. Pricing ranges between $29 and $599 per month.
Buffer is another social media management site that includes a URL shortener. Plans start at $15 per month and range up to $99 per month for its publishing services (which include link shortening), but for analytics access, you’ll need to purchase an additional plan.
Branch is a mobile linking platform that unifies user experience and measurement across different devices, platforms, and channels. You can use the platform for free, but Branch charges $59 per month for premium solutions that integrate deep links into marketing tools — which is excellent news for app developers, as web links don’t work with native mobile apps.
Sniply allows you to add custom links to all owned, earned, and paid media. For example, you can attach a call-to-action that appears as a little pop-up box on the bottom of the page. Plans range between $29 per month to $299 per month.
Along with link shortening, T2mio has a variety of useful tools, including a one-click social share and QR code generator, bulk URL creation, and one-click domain mapping. You can get started with a one-time fee of $5, or pay for monthly plans ranging between $29 to $89 per month. You can also contact T2mio for custom pricing.
Zapier allows you to instantly connect its URL shortener feature with over 1,500 apps, including Gmail, Slack, Dropbox, and Airtable. There’s a free plan available that’s suitable for individuals, but if you’re on a team, you might consider looking at their other pricing options.
Along with providing a UTM builder, we work with your custom domain to help you build branded, short URLs. Terminus also includes HTTPS for your custom domain, custom paths, a retargeting pixel, and a rich UTM builder. Plans start at $24 per month and range up to $158 per month, but you can also get in touch with us for a quote.
Best URL Shorteners for Developers
Firebase is a comprehensive app development platform backed by Google Cloud. This guide walks you through creating Dynamic Links using either the Firebase console, using a REST API, iOS or Android Builder API, or by forming a URL by adding Dynamic Link parameters to a domain specific to your app.
Polr is an open-source link shortener. It allows you to host your own URL shortener and brand your URLs while gaining access to analytics.
What Do URL Shorteners Look Like?
Let’s take a look at what using a URL shortener might look like in practice. For example, take this URL: https://www.terminusapp.com/blog/analytics-dashboard-look-like-old-copywriting-formula/
What would it look like if we shortened it?
With Terminus, it would look like this after customizing the path: https://ter.li/analytics-dashboard
Using Cuttly’s free tool, we’d have: https://cutt.ly/3rYXriJ
Using Bitly, it would look like this: https://bit.ly/2uM530c
And if we were to customize it: https://tinyurl.com/terminus-analytics-guide
Essentially, using a URL shortener is like giving a link a much-needed makeover — the benefits of which extend far beyond just aesthetics. Luckily, there’s no shortage of URL shorteners available for both individuals and companies that operate on a larger scale. You can start by taking advantage of a 21-day Terminus trial. It’s zero-risk and absolutely free.