Do you spend a lot of time on social media? If so, you’ve probably noticed the benefits of a free link shortener.
Link shortening is an essential part of optimizing your social media posts while increasing professionalism. In this guide, we explore ways to use link shorteners, how they can help, and our top recommendations for platforms.
What is a link shortener?
Link shorteners, also known as URL shorteners, are online tools that you can use to transform your links. Instead of clogging your social media feeds with a long link, these platforms make URLs significantly shorter. Some of the best platforms also let you name the URL whatever you want to improve conversions.
If you want to go a step further, you can consider personal URL shorteners that point to your custom domain. This process allows you to improve brand awareness and click-through rates while measuring metrics directly from your domain. On the other hand, you can’t keep track of as many metrics with generic URL shorteners.
Custom shorteners also act as a central hub for any shortlinks you create. Depending on the platform, you can look at the performance per link to see which are the most effective. You can use this information to significantly improve your click-through rate and drive more traffic to your websites.
What do link shorteners do?
With a general idea of the purpose of link shorteners, there are far more benefits to simply making URLs smaller. Let’s get to the most notable benefits of using these platforms to your advantage.
It is important to note that link masking on the internet can be both a useful and a malicious concern. For example, scammers tend to use link masking to trick customers into believing a link is safe.
With compressed URLs, it is impossible to know what content is behind the link, especially since these can be renamed. On the positive side, link masking can be very beneficial in making your content appear stronger.
The shorter your link, the more space you have to explain the content you are sharing. Since most social media platforms have a certain number of characters per post, you want to save as much space as possible.
Link masking also allows you to convey important information in fewer characters. For example, a URL like “https://bloggingtips.com/how-to-find-a-blogging-platform” is not as attractive as “go.rebrandly.com/BestBloggingPlatforms”.
Another big reason link masking is important is directly related to branded offerings. Influencers and social media reps who are constantly working with brands need attractive, streamlined destination URLs.
Affiliate links are often long and clunky, which spoils the look of your post. Instead, you can use link masking to create a “nicer” affiliate link that you can click easily.
As the name suggests, one of the most important things link shorteners do is shorten your URLs. In addition to creating more attractive social media posts, this process can have benefits, especially for face-to-face discussions.
If you’re sharing your website with someone face-to-face, it is a lot easier to say “go.rebrandly.com/BestBloggingPlatforms” than longer alternatives. It can also be beneficial for presentations as you can put shorter URLs on your slides that are easier to write down. Overall, the more succinct your links, the more likely people will visit your website.
As mentioned earlier, link shortening platforms let you track metrics when connected to your platform. That being said, this feature isn’t common with free link shorteners, but it can be incredibly useful.
When you connect the platform to your domain, you can see which links are gaining the most importance. As a social media manager, this information is valuable for managing the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Understanding conversions and clicks can help you determine how best to reach your target audiences. You may also find that you can track the success of your shortened links right from your domain.
Certain blogging platforms allow users to see where their traffic is coming from. For example, you can see whether traffic is coming from your YouTube or Twitter accounts. This data can be used to determine which links are being placed in order to find the most successful marketing measures.
You will find that link tracking is vital when dealing with affiliate links. As a company that uses influencers to spread brand awareness, each individual has their own affiliate link.
Basically, you can use your shortened URL metrics to know which influencers have the best audience engagement. This information can help you choose the best promotion for your next marketing campaign. It can also make it a lot easier to pay your partners based on their engagement numbers.
Free link shortener
It is important to consider all of the options available in order to find the best tool for shortening your links. Let’s take a look at some of the top-rated free platforms to get you started.
Bitly is hands down one of the most popular social media link shorteners, and its popularity is great for brand trust. Users have access to free and premium accounts that can be used to increase the results of your marketing campaigns. Plus, you’ll have access to detailed link engagement insights to improve your communication with a single click.
Another major advantage of Bitly is that it allows for optimal control compared to other platforms. Users have access to auto-branding so you can automatically generate shortened URLs for your domain.
Some of the other features that come with a Bitly account include:
- Real-time analysis
- Custom links
- Seamless tool integration
- Safe links
Rebrandly is another great solution for shortening links, especially when it comes to tracking and branding. Many of their features with free and premium accounts are similar to Bitly, but some are more advanced. For example, users can take a closer look at deep linking, custom analytics, link retargeting, and traffic routing.
With their innovative account management capabilities, creating shortened links becomes a major marketing tool. You can improve your brand visibility by adding links to each post while integrating your branding into the existing workflow. As an added benefit, you can share links across regions, teams, and departments to stay in your marketing strategy.
The optimization efforts offered by Rebrandly are sure to impress you as you can control growth while addressing specific audiences. It also offers unique social media insights and helps with email marketing, SEO, and ad management.
Some of the best features you will experience with Rebrandly are:
- Dedicated onboarding
- Custom analyzes
- Deep linking
- Multiple domain names
- Training and support
Image source: Short.io
The main goal of Short.io is to give every user the opportunity to get the most out of every link. There are four components in an account that allow you to see the advanced benefits of link shortening. You can access detailed statistics, free APIs, custom domain management, and team roles.
With the detailed statistics, you can easily track the success of your short links with impressive insights. Users can review top links, top operating systems, browser-based information, location, and more. All clickstream information is recorded in real time, so you get the most up-to-date metrics.
Developers will appreciate the API that allows you to manage, shorten, and parse specific URLs. You have the option of creating a completely new link for apps or integrating your links into an existing platform.
Another significant benefit is the ability to manage multiple branded domains in a single account. With one account you can create different marketing campaigns across multiple domains. You can also track the performance of each individual project, giving you deeper insight into every facet of your business.
Image source: cutt.ly
If this is your first time using a link shortener, you want a platform that is easy to use and that you can put to good use. Cutt.ly is a fabulous solution that adds a unique feature – QR code integration. Users also have access to preview modes to see how your posts will look before they are published.
This platform allows you to get a better grip on your URL shortening, especially when it comes to analytics. With an account, you can review real-time metrics to measure the performance of specific links. With the analysis, you can check where the traffic is coming from, be it by browser, device, system, geolocation or page referrer.
Cutt.ly also acts as a link management platform, helping you streamline your marketing efforts. You can tweak and customize any of your links, set custom aliases, and create QR codes for printed marketing materials. Also impressive are the advanced link editing tools that allow you to quickly create unique source links.
Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Fast and efficient are the two things that come to mind about TinyURL. This platform is one of the few link shorteners that have been floating around since social media link creation became popular.
Your free browser-based link shortening enables you to create a concise link in seconds. All you have to do is enter your long url and then use drop down menus to customize the link. After you’ve provided all of the related data, all that’s left to do is click a button to get your shortened URL.
That being said, there are also more detailed features that you can access with a free account. For example, you can create endless custom TinyURLs while reviewing your entire link history. When you choose a paid plan, you’ll unlock even more features, including:
- Link tagging
- URL editing
- Unlimited Links Followed
- High API limits
- Access to the user dashboard
- Personalized vanity domains
- Detailed monitoring and analysis
When you are looking for a free link shortener, you want a platform that simplifies the process. Not only do they want to create short links in seconds, but they should offer tracking options for free accounts as well. There are several different platforms to consider, each of which has its advantages to make managing social media marketing easier.