Still miss Google's URL Shortener? Here are the best alternatives, whether you need something simple and quick or are looking for more advanced features.
Google has announced that it is shutting down its URL shortening service on June 30th. The company says that it will continue to support existing users until then, but after that point, all of those shortened links will stop working.
At its most basic, a URL shortener takes some long, unwieldy link and turns it into a shorter, easy-to-share one. For example, you can take something like and turn it into . This enables you to provide a memorable, typable link on a business card, print ad, podcast interview, or any other situation where someone can't click on a hyperlink.
URL shorteners can also be useful for shortening longer links to fit character limits on social media and messaging apps, although a lot of platforms take care of that for you. Twitter, for example, automatically shortens any shared links with its t.co shortening service , while iMessage obscures any links behind a preview card. If you're just sending things to your friends, you only really need to worry about URL shortening if you're using SMS.
Another thing most good URL shorteners offer is some kind of analytics and click tracking. If you share someone else's website address with your audience, you don't necessarily know who clicks through. If you use a URL shortener, however, you'll be able to collect data like the number of clicks the link gets, where they're coming from, and what devices people are using. Generally speaking, the more detailed and powerful these analytics, the higher the cost of the service. Free services tend to have basic click tracking, while premium marketing services will collect as much data as possible and even allow you to serve different URLs to people in different places or using different devices.
Our favorite URL shorteners all allow you to customize the shortened URLs. This means you can use different links in multiple ads or social media posts to compare click-through rates. The basic or free plans may only let you change the last part of the URL (so you get ) while the more business-focused services enable you to use a custom domain.
There are lots of different URL shortening options out there, and we limited our search to easy-to-set-up, standalone services. There are self-hosted versions, like Polr Yourls , that, while free and powerful, require too much technical knowledge to easily recommend. There are also URL shorteners built into other apps that we didn't consider. For example, Ow.ly is fully integrated into Hootsuite , and most newsletter services have some kind of URL shortening and tracking. It's not that these services aren't good, but they go far beyond what most people need a URL shortener to do.
So, let's look at the best options that made our list.
Interested in doing even more with your URL shorteners? Check out our tips for how to use automation to track them, send them, and stay on top of performance.
Best URL Shorteners: Our Top Picks
Bit.ly offers two types of URL shortening: free and paid. The free version has no limitations on characters or length, so you can create very long, unique
is a full-service, business-grade URL shortener. If you only need to shorten the occasional link, you can use it without creating an account. Just paste your long URL into the box on the homepage, click Shorten, and be on your way.
But Bitly really stands out for its business offering. Part of the appeal is that Bitly is so simple and easy to use. It has a comprehensive dashboard where you can track over 20 real-time data points, including the location of your visitors, organic shares, and more. Tools for tracking campaigns are easy to use as well.
With Bitly's free limited account, you can customize the back-half of 50 shortened URLs per month, and track click rates and information about your top referrers for 1,000 links per month. It's a generous free plan and could very well be adequate for some small businesses.
The $35/month Basic plan provides a free custom domain, allows you to create 1,500 links per month, and shows more data about who clicks your links. If you need more from Bitly, Premium, at $300/month, is a big step up but offers more links per month, better analytics, and other features, like custom QR codes
Bitly is the best URL shortener for large businesses looking to brand and track links, and it's a great choice for small businesses that want to generate short URLs and follow their stats for a modest number of campaigns.
Goo.gl is another popular URL shortener that's been around since 2010. It's owned by Google, which makes sense given that it was designed to work seamlessly within Gmail. You can add links to your
is a great URL shortener like all the other apps on our list, its appeal is unique. Rebrandly believes that brands, whether it's a product or a person, get value out of customizing links to content that references them from all over the web. Their free plan offers five custom domains, the most of any app we considered, so you can customize the whole short URL, and not just the last half of it.
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