Do you use Bit.ly to shorten your URL’s?
Does the service frustrate you and you want to find a better alternative?
Well you’re in the right place! I’ve been testing other URL shortener services to find a good alternative to Bit.ly and I’m happy to tell you that there are some good ones out there. There’s no need for you to despair with the Bit.ly service any longer.
Bit.ly was a champion of the URL shortening phenomenon way back in 2008. If you use it, or any other URL shortening service, you’ll know how useful it is. You can shorten those really long and unsightly affiliate links into a concise URL that will not put off your visitors from clicking on the link.
There’s no doubt that Bit.ly is a good URL shortener service. There’ve been a number of improvements to the service over the years and it still remains easy and simple for you to use.
The free account provided with Bit.ly is generous allowing you to create up to 500 branded links and 10,000 links without branding. You can also track your click rates and even analyze the links that are your top referrers. This means that the alternatives have a lot to live up to.
Bit.ly do have an Enterprise version if the free version is not enough for you. You can find out more about the Enterprise offering here. This can be pretty expensive though and is usually only purchased by larger companies who have a need for a lot more shortened links.
When you’re looking for an alternative to Bit.ly you need to think about your main aim for using the service. So here are the 5 best alternatives to Bit.ly for you to consider.
If you’re looking for a good URL shortener service for self hosting then the open source Polr project is a very good option for you. With Polr you’ll need some technical knowledge to host your own URL shortener. You can also use it straight out of the box as it is.
The Polr interface looks good and is simple to use. It has a real minimalist feel about it and you have many options with it. Let’s say that you have just made a blog post, you can use Polr to shorten the URL to make it easier for your visitors. Here’s why I like Polr and why you should use it:
- Open source (free)
- URL shortener hosted option
- Good interface
- Tools for traffic tracking
- Customizable links
As Polr is open source you can do almost anything you want with it. You ‘ll need some programming knowledge to do this or you can outsource the work. This is a good alternative to Bit.ly.
Bl.ink is one of the best URL shortener services I have found for business use. With its full features Bl.ink makes it really easy to shorten URL’s. On top of that you can track incoming traffic from the links you create.
There are some very good analytics offered with Bl.ink. You can see what time of day you received clicks on your links as well as referrers, the device used and the location. There is also a “tags” feature which lets you analyze your traffic in a customizable way.
The features of Bl.ink include:
- Free account for 1,000 links
- Premium plans for more links and domains
- Branding for domains
- Easy to create shortened links
- Full analytics
- Ideal for business users
With a free Bl.ink account you can create as many as 1,000 links and track 1,000 clicks for each link. You can connect your free account to a single domain for branding. If you need more than this then there are plans available starting from $12/month.
If branding your shortened links is important for you then look no further than Rebrandly. The service works in a similar way to other URL shorteners but offers more in the branding department.
To best explain the branding power of Rebrandly here is an example. Let’s say that you secure the custom domain Technize.com. By using Rebrandly you can create shortened URL’s such as:
Technize.com/computer-gadgets – this would be a branded shortened link for the Amazon page that contains the books you’ve written.
Rebrandly has some very good features including:
- Free and premium plans
- Unlimited redirects
- Custom domain names
- QR code generation
- Good analytics
With the free Rebrandly plan you can have 5 custom domains, create a maximum of 500 branded links and track up to 5,000 clicks every month. If you need to create more branded links or want to track more clicks then the premium packages start at $29 each month.
Do you need to generate QR codes for your shortened URL links?
If you do then T2M offers a full service that is hard to beat. You can measure just about anything when you use T2M. After signing up you’ll have access to 2 dashboards.
One of the dashboards will display the platforms and devices used while the other is all about locations and geography. I found both dashboards easy to use and read. As soon as you shorten a URL a QR code gets automatically generated which is a nice feature.
Here’s what to expect from T2M:
- QR code generation with each link
- Great dashboards
- Device and platform analytics
- Geographic analytics
- Very easy to use
There’s a free T2M plan where you can shorten an unlimited number of URL’s. The analytics provided with the free plan will be enough for most online marketers. If you want a custom domain and other advanced features then they have two paid plans starting at $9.99/month.
Yourls is another good option if you want to self host and customize. It’s another open source offering that’s growing in popularity. If you haven’t run it out yet Yourls stands for “Your Own URL Shortener”.
You have to install Yourls on your server to use it. There’s no stand alone service. It does offer a whole host of features though such as:
- Open source (free)
- Host your own URL shortener
- Public or private links
- Bookmarklet for easy URL shortening
- Tracking tools
I didn’t find Yourls too difficult to set up even with my limited tech knowledge. It’ll not be difficult to find a good techie to set it up on your server for you if you don’t have the skills or the inclination.
You must’ve heard of TinyURL? It is where URL shortening really took off back in 2002. If you just want to shorten URL’s quickly, easily and anonymously then look no further. The links you create never expire and you can shorten links fast.
The major downside with TinyURL is that there are no tracking analytics. Of course you can associate your TinyURL links with another analytics package if you want. TinyURL does have some good features though including:
- Anonymous URL shortening
- Easy to use interface
- Very fast and easy to shorten links
- Toolbar button for easy link shortening
- Totally free service
- Your links never expire
The bottom line is that you can rely on TinyURL. It’s been going for many years now and is very reliable. The toolbar button is great and you should use it. There are no setup requirements and it is free.
I’ve provided you with the best alternatives to using Bit.ly for your URL shortening needs. I tried to cover the most common reasons why marketers want to use a URL shortener so it should be easy for you to choose the best option for your needs.
If you like the idea of hosting your own URL shortener then there’s not much difference in the offerings from Polr and Yourls. For the best analytics you should take a good look at Bl.ink and T2M. For shortened URL links in a hurry with a minimum of fuss, it’s hard to beat TinyURL.
So here’s my advice. Think about what you really want from a URL shortener service. If you need branding then take a look at Rebrandly. Always try out the free plans first to see if you like the service. To be honest I found that the free plans provided everything that I needed for my particular job.