Back in the days when newsletters first hit the Internet, they were usually published in text format because many email clients did not support HTML email just yet. One of the problems many publishers faced was long URL’s being split in half and not being clickable to the reader. To solve this problem, shortening services started to spring up that would take a long URL and cut it down to a reasonable size.
With the popularity of Twitter and the confines of 140 characters, URL (link) shortening services are in high demand once again. When you have such a small amount of space to work with, no one wants a long URL cutting into that precious real estate.
There are a variety of shortening services to choose from, each having their own specific features and benefits. Most of them do work hand in hand with Twitter, allowing you to Tweet the link once it’s been shortened. If you’re an avid Twitter user this is a useful feature to have.
Some only offer a basic shortening service, but many allow you to view stats and metrics on your newly shortened links if you register. If you’re doing any form of social media marketing, it’s nice to be able to see if anyone’s actually clicking on all the links you’re sending out to the “Twitosphere”, or posting on Facebook and other sites. Tracking will give you an indication that you’re being heard and that people are actually paying attention to what you have to say.
Another important thing to look for is whether or not the shortening service uses 301 redirects. This is the most search engine friendly, and forces the search engine to look at the destination URL, not the domain of the shortening service itself. A 301 stands for a permanent move, not temporary. What this means is, you want the links you’re sending out to be given credit by the search engines, not the shortening service itself. Make sense?
Many allow custom URL’s, which allows you to use your name or company name in the links you create. This is great for branding purposes. Think of it as a vanity license plate. Instead of being just a regular URL it’s your own special creation.
Let’s review a few options:
- http://TweetBurner.com– A bare bones tracking service which allows you to shorten any link and then share it instantly with your Twitter followers or Friendfeed. Basic stat tracking is available so you can see how many people clicked on your link.
- http://Cli.gs – A shortening service which includes full analytics. You can create links that include your brand in them. Free to use. It’s easy to send your links to Twitter with one click.
- http://Bit.ly – This is Twitter’s default shortening service and used by Tweedeck.com. It allows you to track performance of your links in real time. Easy to share generated links on Twitter, Facebook, even Gmail. It also offers many extra tools and plug-ins such as a browser bookmarklet and browser sidebar.
- http://MyTwitterToolbar.com – Free to download and comes complete with a massive list of URL shorteners as well as over 50 Twitter tools. Also includes 100 Twitter tips.
- http://www.TwitClicks.com – A fairly simple service that allows you to shorten a URL immediately and tweet it. Can also see complete stats. Detailed stats show percentage of browsers used and locations of those who clicked. Check out a short video on how to use it at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i1ScPeCd6X4
- http://www.ExpandMyUrl.com – This service takes a shortened link and gives you the true URL that it points to. Perfect for the paranoid individual who wants to know where the shortened link will send them.
- http://www.TwitPwr.com – A short URL service which also includes analytics and stats. Their home page shows the top 25 users with the most TwitPwr and also a “hot URL” list of those URL’s that get the most clicks. Free to use.
- http://1link.in – A multiple link shortening service. Simply type in a list of links and get one link back for all. If you click on the newly shortened link it goes to a page showing details of what sites that link points to, and asks if you want to open them all. If you answer yes, multiple windows will open for each site.
- http://Go2.me – A different type of link shortening and discussion service which creates shorter links which also contain a chat window to exchange comments with your readers. It’s also easy to share on Twitter, Facebook or email with one click.
- http://Tw.itter.me – You can customize the shortened link with your name or company name. From what I saw no stats are available.
- http://budurl.com/ – Another popular service which shows you a real time view of your inbound clicks. This free service allows you to track up to 250 Budurl’s. They offer 3 pay levels of service from $4.00 a month to $49.00 a month. There is a 21 day free trial on any paid service. You can start out free and upgrade your account at any time.
- http://Tr.Im – Trim those long URL’s and instantly share them on Twitter. If you want stats, you’ll need to register. Offers many different tools and extensions to make for easier sharing, such as a Firefox extension that allows you to view your tr.im stats and tweet your new links quickly.
- http://short.ie – Keeps all your shortened links in one place. Tracks clicks and allows you to instantly share your list with friends. It can also be connected to your Twitter account for more features. Customization of URL’s also available.
- http://hootsuite.com– Not really a URL shortening service, but has the ability built in. Hootsuite is a “Twitter Toolbox” loaded with features which are all free. They use ow.ly as their built in link shortener.
If you’ve never tried a url shortening service, you’ll want to find one that fits your needs and start to really utilize it in your online marketing activities. Finding out who’s clicking on your links, time of day, where they’re from and other information will be very valuable in your ongoing efforts as an Internet Marketer.
Remember, when it comes to social media marketing T.M.I (too much information) is a good thing, unlike when your Aunt Ethel wants you to sit with her and go over every detail of her latest vacation . One is helpful, the other just downright painful.