Do you spend a lot of time on social media? If so, you have likely noticed the benefits of a free link shortener.
Link shortening is an integral part of streamlining your social media posts while enhancing professionalism. In this guide, we’ll explore the uses for link shorteners, how they can help, and our top recommendations for platforms.
What Is a Link Shortener?
Also referred to as a URL shortener, link shorteners are online tools that allow you 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 allow you to name the URL anything you want to enhance conversions.
If you want to take it a step further, you can consider personal URL shorteners that link to your custom domain. With this process, you can improve brand awareness and click-through rates while measuring metrics directly through your domain. On the other hand, using generic URL shorteners doesn’t allow you to track as many metrics.
Custom shorteners also act as the central hub for all of the short links you’ve created. Depending on the platform, you can look at the performance per link to see which are the most effective. Using this information, you can significantly improve your click-through rate and attract more traffic to your sites.
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 into the most noticeable benefits of using these platforms to your advantage.
It’s important to note that link masking can both be a beneficial or malicious concern on the internet. Scammers, for example, tend to use link masking to trap customers into thinking a link is safe.
With condensed URLs, it’s impossible to know what content is behind the link, especially as they can be renamed. On a more positive note, link masking can be quite beneficial for making your content appear stronger.
The shorter your link is, the more space you have to explain the content that you’re sharing. As most social media platforms have a certain number of characters per post, you’ll 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” isn’t as attractive as “go.rebrandly.com/BestBloggingPlatforms.”
Another massive reason as to why link masking is important relates directly to brand deals. Influencers and social media personnel who constantly work with brands need attractive, streamlined destination URLs.
Often, affiliate links are long and clunky, which takes away from your post’s appearance. Instead, opting to use link masking allows you to create a more “beautiful” affiliate link that’s easy to click.
As its name suggests, one of the top things link shorteners do is make your URLs shorter. This process can have benefits outside of making more attractive social media posts, especially for in-person discussions.
If you share your site with someone face-to-face, it’s much simpler 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 concise your links are, the more likely people will visit your site.
As mentioned, link shortening platforms allow you to track metrics when connected to your platform. With that said, this feature isn’t common with free link shorteners but can be incredibly useful.
When you connect the platform to your domain, you can see which links gain the most traction. As a social media manager, this information is valuable for managing the effectiveness of your campaigns.
Having a clear understanding of conversions and clicks, you can determine the best ways to reach your audiences. You might also find that you can track the success of your shortened links directly through your domain.
Specific blogging platforms allow users to see where their traffic is coming from. For example, you can look at whether traffic is coming from your YouTube or Twitter accounts. Using this data, you can determine which links are placed to find the most successful marketing efforts.
You’ll find that link tracking is crucial when dealing with affiliate links. As a business using influencers to spread brand awareness, each individual will have their own affiliate link.
Basically, you’ll be able to use the metrics from your shortened URLs to know which influencers have the best audience engagement. This information can help you choose the best outreach efforts for your next marketing campaign. It can also make it significantly easier to pay your affiliates accurately by their engagement numbers.
Free Link Shorteners
It’s important to consider all of the options available to find the best tool for shortening your links. Let’s take a look at some of the top-rated free platforms to help you get started.
Bitly is undoubtedly one of the most popular link shorteners for social media, and its popularity is ideal for brand trust. Users have access to free and premium accounts, allowing you to boost the results of your marketing campaigns. Also, you’ll have access to in-depth insights about link engagement to help better your communications with a single click.
Another significant benefit of Bitly is that it allows for optimal control compared to other platforms. Users will 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 analytics
- Custom links
- Seamless tool integration
- Secure links
Rebrandly is another excellent 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 a few are more advanced. For instance, users can take a deeper look at deep linking, custom analytics, link retargeting, and traffic routing.
With their innovative account management features, creating shortened links becomes a considerable marketing tool. You’ll be able to enhance your brand visibility by adding links to every post while integrating your branding into the existing workflow. As an added benefit, you can share links across regions, teams, and departments to stay within your marketing strategy.
The optimization efforts offered by Rebrandly are sure to impress, as you can manage growth while targeting specific audiences. It also provides unique insights into social media, assisting with email marketing, SEO, and ad management.
Some of the best features you’ll experience with Rebrandly include:
- Dedicated onboarding
- Custom analytics
- Deep linking
- Multiple domain names
- Training and support
The primary objective for Short.io is to give every user the ability to make the most out of every link. There are four components included with an account, allowing you to see the advanced benefits of link shortening. You’ll be able to access detailed statistics, free API, 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 of the clickstream information is recorded in real-time, giving you the most up-to-date metrics.
Developers are bound to appreciate the API, allowing you to manage, shorten, and analyze specific URLs. You’ll have the opportunity to build an entirely new link for apps or integrate your links into an existing platform.
Another considerable benefit is the ability to manage several branded domains in a single account. With an account, you’ll be able to create distinct marketing campaigns across multiple domains. You’ll also be able to track the performance for each individual project, giving you deeper insights into every facet of your business.
When using a link shortener for the first time, you’ll want a user-friendly platform to 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 what your posts look like before publishing.
This platform allows you to take a stronger hold over your URL shortening, especially regarding analytics. With an account, you can review real-time metrics to measure the performance of specific links. The analytics will let you check where traffic is coming from, whether 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 optimize and customize each of your links, set custom aliases, and create QR codes for printed marketing materials. Their advanced link editing tools are also impressive, allowing you to quickly craft unique source links.
Quick and efficient are the two things that come to mind when thinking about TinyURL. This platform is one of the few link shorteners in circulation since the popularity of link creation for social media.
Their free browser-based link shortening allows you to make a concise link in seconds. All you have to do is input your long URL and then use drop-down menus to customize the link. Once you’ve provided all of the related data, you’ll only need to click one button to receive your shortened URL.
With that said, there are also more in-depth features that you can access with a free account. For instance, you can create endless customized TinyURLs while reviewing your entire link history. If you opt for a paid plan, you’ll unlock even more features, including:
- Link tagging
- URL editing
- Unlimited tracked links
- High API limits
- User dashboard access
- Personalized vanity domains
- Detailed monitoring and analytics
When you start looking for a free link shortener, you’ll want a platform designed to make the process simpler. Not only will you want to make short links in seconds, but they should also offer tracking options for free accounts. There are several different platforms to consider, each with its benefits to help make social media marketing easier to manage.