With URL shortenersany long and cumbersome website address can be reduced to just a few characters at the click of a button.

Anyone with a web browser can use link shorteners: social media managers, daily Facebook moms, small business owners, TikTok tweens of all levels – and you!

Here’s everything you need to know about how to use URL shorteners and why they should be an essential part of your social media toolkit.

What is a URL shortener?

URL shortener is a tool that creates a short, unique URL this will redirect you to a specific website of your choice.

Basically: they make a URL shorter and simpler.

Your new, shorter URL will usually contain the shortened site’s address, as well as a combination of random letters.

For example, if I punched a URL like Animalplanet.com/tv-shows/puppy-bowl/full-episodes/puppy-bowl-xvi To Moyens I/O Ow.ly link shortener ow.ly/uK2f50AJDI6. This shortens the link to 48 letters, but still gives you access to cute dogs playing bad football.

In some cases you can even customize this mini URL with a custom phrase. Oh, power!

Why should you use a URL shortener?

If you’re going to share a link, there are many good reasons to use a URL shortener.

If you are linking to a specific page embedded deep within your website or using UTM parameters to track your visitors, you may find yourself dealing with a long URL.

Source: excitement

An oversized URL will look cumbersome wherever you use it – in social posts shared via text, pasted into an email.

But worse than that, long URLs also look overly suspicious. With so many letters, backslashes, numbers and question marks, when we click that link, anything can happen! Anything!

Keep everything looking neat, tidy and friendly with as short a URL as possible.

If brand awareness is part of your social media strategy, a custom URL shortener is a tool to help get the word out.

URL shorteners that allow you to customize your short link offer a chance to name your brand. Moyens I/O’s link shortener, for example, lets you create a short link in just a few clicks.

Especially if you use a free web hosting service or have an unexciting ISP, a custom URL shortener is a way to keep your brand front and center when sharing links.

Most link shortening sites offer tracking metrics. This is information about who clicked on your link, where and when; information to help you calculate the ROI of the campaign.

Create various short links using different UTM parameters to easily monitor source traffic. If you combine this with other analytics tools like Google Analytics, you set yourself up for marketing success.

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Dashboard tracking performance of shortened URLs

Source: bitl.ly

Short URLs let you make the most of character limits on social media

Twitter has a strict character limit of 280, so it’s very important to keep posts short and concise. The shortened URLs give you a lot more room for perfect punctuation for that poignant view of politics or your killer joke about hot dogs.

URL shortener used in a link copied and pasted into a Tweet

Source: excitement screenshot

Even for posts on Facebook or Instagram where character limits are in the thousands, keeping things short and sweet is still best for readability and engagement. Short URLs help prevent TL;DR syndrome.

Another advantage of shorter links: They’re also useful for instant messaging or email, where longer links can be difficult to read or be interrupted altogether by line breaks.

Beyond the functional benefits of a shortened URL, they are simply faster and easier to remember.

If a wedding post is trying to collect posts in a Google Form, for example, their followers docs.google.com/forms/d/1ezpZnYSA08L3nlsLzgjKToA76qKYgFpKzW5FMaKLoxI one a little a mouthful. A special short link like bit.ly/submitRWOn the other hand, it is easy to understand and remember.

Try a short link on business cards, print ads, or physical signage. If people can actually type into their browser with just a few keystrokes, you’re more likely to gain some traffic.

Business card using a short link generated by Bit.ly URL shortener

Source: remove splash plus some creative work

How do URL shorteners work?

URL shorteners work by creating a redirect to your long URL.

Entering a URL in your internet browser sends an HTTP request to the web server to pull a particular website. Long and short URLs are both different starting points for an internet browser to reach the same destination.

There are several different types of redirect HTTP response codes, but look for those that use 301 permanent redirects: other varieties can hurt your SEO rankings.

The Google URL shortener was shut down back in spring 2019, but the good news is there are dozens of alternative options.

The downside… There are dozens of alternative options out there. How do you know which one to choose?

Our advice: Look for shortening services that allow you to customize your connection or have built-in analytics. A URL shortening site that has been around for a while may be more reliable and reputable, possibly to avoid shutdowns or interruptions of service.

URL shortener #1: Ow.ly

Owly is integrated directly into the Moyens I/O platform and is included with every plan type (including the free version).

The benefits here are that you can see your short link metrics alongside your other social analytics so you can see your brand’s performance holistically.

Moyens I/O Ow.ly URL shortener

Source: ow.ly

URL shortener #2: T.co

Twitter has a built-in free URL shortener that automatically reduces any long URL to 23 characters, giving you plenty of room to express yourself.

Any link you share (even if shortened beforehand!) will be converted to a t.co URL so Twitter can save metrics and screen out unwanted or dangerous sites.

URL shortener #3: Bitly

There’s a ton of data to chew on if you’re using Bitly. Here you can see the performance of each link with metrics like demographics, referral sources and clicks via the robust Bitly dashboard.

A free account offers analytics and customization for one person, but Basic and Enterprise subscriptions are also available, offering branded links, QR codes, richer data, and multiple users.

Bitly URL shortener

Source: bit.ly

URL shortener #4: Small URL

The site itself won’t win any design awards, but who cares? It does everything you need: create a small new URL. Customization is possible without logging in, making it a productive option when you’re in a hurry to share your latest episode. MasterChef Junior digital audio file.

A great feature here: You can add TinyURL to your browser toolbar so you can create short links no matter what site you’re currently on.

TinyURL URL shortener

Source: tiny.url

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URL shortener #5: Rebrand

With Rebrandly, you can create your own branded short link with a custom domain even with a free account.

SujindersCookiePalace.com It can be a great main URL to have, but when it comes to sharing on social media, that character count goes up. A short, branded URL for link sharing only, for example su.jindersgets your business name there again without taking up valuable space.

Also, Rebrandly includes both monitoring, optimization and scaling tools in its various packages (paid options starting at $29 per month).

Rebrand URL shortener

Source: re-brand

Get real-time notifications when links are clicked or change settings to hourly, daily or weekly summaries with the help of hyperlink.

Hyperlink also provides per-click details: get device, location and referrer information for each visitor and live view dashboard.

The app (for iOS and Android) is a nice complement to the Chrome extension for those who need to share links on the go. (You’re busy! We got it!)

Custom domains are available with paid plans starting at $39 per month.

Hyperlink URL shortener

Source: bridge

URL shortener #7: Tiny.CC

Quickly shorten, monitor and manage your URLs with Tiny.CC’s simple interface.

Custom URL information is available, and if you register an account, you can track the statistics of the short link.

Tiny.CC custom URL shortener

Source: tiny.cc

URL shortener #8: Bit.Do

Bit.Do is another simple and sweet option that has everything you need: the ability to customize, traffic statistics and even an automatic QR code generator.

Short branded domains are also available here, but priced at $85 per month, slightly more than others on this list, so if branded shortened URLs are the way you want to go, you may be better off choosing another service.

Bit.Do URL shortener

Source: bit.do

URL shortener #9: ClickMeter

ClickMeter’s beautiful image dashboard makes it easy to get the most out of your links.

At a glance, you can track broken links and latency, find visitors with the best conversion rates, track views and clicks, and more.

It’s a favorite of agencies and publishers with packages starting at $29 per month, solid offers, and of course, useful link shortening functionality.

ClickMeter URL shortener

Source: Click meter

URL shortener #10: Shorte.ST

Data is valuable for your insights, right? Well, third-party companies often deal with this information as well, so it’s a cottage industry, actually pay to shorten your connections with them.

Shorte.ST is one of many URL shorteners on the web, with payout rates that vary depending on your audience’s geography. (For example, Shorte.ST pays $14.04 CPM for US traffic.)

In addition to cold cash, Shorte.ST offers a comprehensive statistics dashboard for review.

Shorte.ST URL shortener

Source: Shortest

URL shortener #11: Cut.Ly

You don’t need an account to use Cut.Ly or even customize the URL, but an account gives you access to real-time analytics, including clicks and social media referrals.

Cut.Ly also has a free custom URL shortener button that you can add to your browser’s toolbar, so it only takes one click to shorten your link.

Cut.Ly custom URL shortener

Source: definitely

URL shortener #12: Clkim

The smart directions of Clkim’s system are wise. The URL can redirect users based on mobile OS or geography, based on contextual triggers, so they access your site in a way that works best for them.

There’s also the option to do target A/B testing to find out which landing page converts better. Also, Clkim offers retargeting based on custom lists of people who clicked on your shortlist.

clkim URL shortener

Source: my contact

Bottom line: Whatever combination of speed and detail you need, there’s a URL shortening service for your long link. Try a few, try them all – just be sure to keep it short and sweet.

Drive more traffic to your website and save time with Moyens I/O. From a single dashboard, you can manage all your social media profiles, shorten links with one click, measure success and more.