An Overview Of URL Shorteners

7/20/2009

- Danielle Leitch, EVP Client Strategy

With so many people using Social Media networks to communicate and share data, I want to offer some ideas for how to reference links. These links may stem from your wall posts on Facebook, tweets on Twitter, status updates or answers on LinkedIn, comments on Blogs, etc. In any of these cases, using a URL shortener is easy, free and a space saver when characters matter.

There are a number of different services available. The two most commonly used ones are Bit.ly and Tiny_url. MoreVisibility suggests Bit.ly given the reporting functionality it offers – this is also now the service featured through Twitter. These feature the number of times the URL was clicked and mentions of the link or "conversations" within social media channels. It is not necessary to sign up for an account to use these services; however we recommend doing so if you will be using the link shortner program frequently. With an account, you can easily keep track of all your "shortened" links and their activity (history) in one place. Otherwise, you will need to recall the shortened URL for each link condensed and recall the statistics for it, one at a time.

Advantages of Short URLS

  • Promotes sharing
  • Reduces broken links in emails
  • Some shortener services make it easy to "retweet" the information
  • Allows for more links in microblogging (Twitter) applications

Criticisms of Short URLS

  • Easy for spammers
  • People afraid to click on links that they don’t know where they go
  • Possible overuse in the wrong locations – website content
  • If a service goes down, all the links can cease to work

Best Practice Usage

  • Only use when you have to, for really long urls in limited space
  • Sign up for account(s) so you can track them
  • Possible overuse in the wrong locations – website content
  • Explain what the shortened URL is in the tweet, post, email, etc.

An important note; you do not have to give up your robust website analytics tracking (for links back to your site or blog) just because you're using a URL shortener. Before you shorten the link - add your analytics tracking code to the link and then shorten that URL. This way you will get visibility on where the link got clicked from within bit.ly, tinyurl, etc., plus you can follow that visitor once they arrive onto your website or blog. For more information, check out our recent Google Analytics Blog post on this subject.

© 2016 MoreVisibility. All rights reserved.