We live in a 140 character society. Our attention spans are dwindling. We need to get our points across quickly and effectively, and because of this we can’t be wasting characters on things such as full URLs. The thought of it is just ludicrous. Thus we need the ability to shorten these lengthy URLs. Below I will list my top three URL shorteners. If that’s all you want to know well great they’re right there, but if you want information on why URL shorteners are good and bad or why these three are on the list and why others are not I will discuss that below. Without further ado top three best URL shorteners:
Bit.ly is one of the early shorteners. It gained mass popularity in 2006 when it became the default URL shortener for twitter. This only changed when Twitter moved to its on native shortener. The main benefit of bit.ly is that it is very popular and recognized, therefore it is more familiar to users and they are less likely to be skeptical of your link. The reason bit.ly is number three on this list is that you need to sign up to view the analytics of the URL shortener. The analytics at that are not the best in the business so the process of accessing them becomes much more of a pain than a benefit.
Forurl.co is a relatively new shortener, but what it lacks in popularity it makes up for it in awesomeness. The sole reason this tool is ranked at number two is because of its geotargeting ability. Forurl.co allows users to set up shortened URL codes that direct users to different domains based on their location. This is incredibly useful for companies marketing in the US and the UK and needing to direct US costumers to a .com URL and UK users to a .co.uk URL. As for analytics you once again need to sign up which overall is not worth the time and effort.
What!? Google offers an awesome tech service? I know it’s hard to believe but bear with me here as I explain. First of all it’s Google so the system is incredibly reliable and recognizable. Second it is the fastest shortener, if mere milliseconds matter that much to you that is. The most important fact however, is the analytics. As you may have heard Google has pretty good analytics. The analytics for goo.gl sync with the google account you most likely already have. If you have Google+, YouTube, Gmail, Drive, or numerous other accounts you have a google account. Goo.gl analytics track in real time an provide incredibly useful information regarding you link such as the source of the click, the location of the click, what type of device the user was using, as well as a number of less significant data.
As promised, here is the main features I looked for when assessing various tools. The main reasons a tool didn’t make the list were as follows. It was spammy. If you want me to use your tool then don’t throw an ad in my face as soon as I get to your site. Human verification and sign up. If you can’t control spam internally then I don’t really trust your site right off the bat. If you make me sign up to use your tool I expect spam email in the near future, unless you’re google I’m just looking for something quick and easy, I don’t want to be your friend. Factors that put these tools on the list were pretty simple. The main reason was they had a good unique selling point. Bit.ly is well known and popular, forurl.co provides a great geotargeting service, and goo.gl has the awesome analytics Google is known for. Another big factor was the UX design of the website. If a user needs to do more than paste their link and click a button you have too much going on. KISS, keep it simple stupid. The three that made the list had very simple and effective UX design, which didn’t take away from the ability of the tool.
So why use Shorteners?
- The obvious main reason to save space in your message. Plus it looks much cleaner than a URL that may be several layers deep into a page.
- Analytics: With a service like goo.gl the analytics provide great evaluation tools and information for future marketing campaigns.
- Link baiting. I don’t mean links like “See the video Obama didn’t want public” that links to spam and other garbage. I mean building enticing content that users want to explore further. More on link baiting? Check out Hubspot’s Article on it. Occasionally the URL of a post will give away too much. By shortening it you provide the link but do not take away from your promotional content.