Have you ever received an email with a super-long link in it—a link so long it was unclickable? I certainly have.
Enter the amazing URL shrinker, a handy tool that shortens lengthy URLs (web addresses) to 25 or so characters.
There are several good uses for URL shinkers:
Twitter: Twitter allows 140 characters per tweet. Since most tweeters refer their followers to new blog posts, it makes sense to compress links to posts.
E-newsletters: Many services require you to write out the entire URL to sites you’re linking to. Compress the URL, and you’ve got a nice, clean-looking address that doesn’t scare people away.
Affiliate links: These links are usually dozens of characters long. Some people use link shorteners to get rid of all those extra characters and/or disguise the fact that they’re sending people to an affiliate link (we believe it’s wise to be above-board about disclosing affiliate links).
The downside to most URL shorteners is that they replace the originating website’s domain name with their own company name. For example, here’s a link to one of our articles that we shrank, using TinyURL.com:
Original (84 characters):
TinyURL version of the same link (26 characters):
With some services, however, you can customize your short URLs. Bitly.com, for example, gives you the option to create a custom short domain for personal or business use. (See Bitly’s Advanced Settings for instructions.)
Shrink Those Links!
These services are free, and for most you do not have to register.
Bitly is the compressor we use most. Not only does if have an attractive, easy to use interface, but you can track your links and see statistics like which of your links have been clicked. Bitly can also create QR codes and has a browser extension for Chrome, which means you can create a shortlink with the click of a button.
TinyURL also has a one-click link compressor browser extension, but unlike bitly, TinyURL’s extension is compatible with any browser. You can also create a custom alias (URL) if it’s available, allowing you to have a say in what the finished URL shortlink looks like. Another cool feature is the pop up preview, which lets your readers see a preview of the original URL when they hover over the link.
is.gd (think “is good”) is a basic URL compressor, but offers a neat feature: pronounceable shortlinks. The algorithm behind the URL creation doesn’t necessary create real words, but they are at least pronounceable and therefore more memorable. Is.gd also offers QR code creation at the click of a button.
In true Google fashion, goo.gl is a simple, efficient link shortener. Links are easy to create, and the “Details” page provides a QR code and stats of your link’s clicks. A Chrome browser extension is also available.
Su.pr is a top-rated compression service from the people behind StumbleUpon. Su.pr tracks the click-through rates of your shortened links and makes suggestions for the best time to post based on your history. Su.pr links have the added benefit of gaining exposure on the StumbleUpon platform, but you do need to create a free account with StumbleUpon to use su.pr.
- Click this post’s headline to get its permanent URL. If you’re feeling lazy, the URL is http://www.bloggingbistro.com/5-fantastic-url-shorteners/
- Choose a service from the list and shrink the URL.
- Write your own Facebook update or tweet, linking your readers to this post using the compressed URL.
- Let us know which service you like best.
Here’s a ready-made tweet so you can share what you just learned: