There was a time when we would just paste a link without too much thought but with Twitter creating a platform that only allowed a maximum of 140 characters (which has now been expanded to 280) many people found that some links were just too long to share.
So along came the link shortening sites and for a while it seemed like all of the platforms were tripping over themselves developing their own URL shorteners, sometimes to drive traffic to their site as a stand alone service and sometimes to encourage use of their platform for creating graphics or scheduling.
Over the past few years most of these sites have disappeared or been integrated into other services but there are still a couple that have remained strong that you can use to shorten long links into something more manageable and compact.
Some popular ones you may be familiar with are Hootsuite’s Owl.ly and Tweetdeck’s deck.ly, both of witch are now integrated into the customer packages, Amazon’s amzn.to is exclusive to affiliates and Google announced that goo.gl was being shut down in April 2019 (although all existing links will still work)
Why use a URL shortener?
As sites develop new links, they often get to unmanageable lengths, especially if the site has a lot of pages. eg, Amazon links can be crazy unruly:
Which would leave your social media posts looking cluttered and horrible to read.
We also have some site, such as Twitter that restrict the amount of characters you can use in a post, so a shortened link will allow for you to add the link and then still add a comment within the 280 character limit.
So what are they?
Bitly is a free service and the worlds most popular site for shortening links. As you will see from the front page you can start shortening links straight away.
You will also see the option to sign up and there are some advantages to this as you can track click through rates and also have all of your previously shortened links in one place so that yore links remain consistent.
You can also personalise links to make them more recognisable to your branding.
Tinyurl is a well recognised link shortener which is useful when including links into social media posts.
Tiny URL doesnt require sign in or provide analytics on your links but for ease, it does allow you to download a toolbar for your browser so if you shorten a lot of links througout the day you dont have to go back and forth to the site.
It gives you the added option of being able to customise your shortened link (although it might not always be possible as this platform is used a LOT)
AND if you are sending links tiny url gives you the option to show viewers a preview so they can check out the original link prior to clicking through so they know its a trusted site.