Thursday, May 01, 2014

The Pros & Cons of URL Shorteners


As an educator, professional development provider, blogger, avid user of Social Media, and a Hangout host, I am often in need of URL Shorteners to easily share links, documents, websites, etc. But, which URL Shortener service is the best one?



A URL Shortener is a web-based service that will take a long URL (website address) and squeeze it into a very short easier to manage URL. When a shortened URL is used, the person will be redirected to the longer URL.





Shortening a URL can be helpful for several reasons:

  • Sharing a shortened URL with students makes it quicker and easier for them to type and remember.
  • Sharing a shortened URL during a workshop or training makes it quicker and easier for the participants to type and remember.
  • Shortened URLs take up less space in a presentation, document, blog, or website.
  • Shortened URLs make it easier for you to manage.
There are 3 main services that will shorten URLs for you and they are all free! However, some come with added features and bonuses. The 3 main services are TinyURL.com, goo.gl, and bit.ly. Some are far better than others, but I'll break down their pros and cons below.

Tinyurl.com





TinyURL.com was the first URL Shortener that I was introduced to and I used it a lot early on. It's probably the quickest and easiest to use.

Cons:
  • No statistics offered on links (# of clicks, views, etc.)
  • No account or log in = not able to manage already created TinyURLs
  • Very simple user interface (to some, this might be a pro)
Pros:
  • Create customized URLs (rather than a randomly generated URL, you can customize the ending)
  • Preview Feature allows users to "preview" where the URL takes them before they are actually redirected.
  • Create a handy Toolbar Button to make it even easier to create TinyURLs.
Goo.gl





Goo.gl is Google's URL Shortener service. If you use your Google Account frequently, you might want to give this one a try.

Cons:
  • No customization of the URL (generates a random URL w/ numbers and letters)
  • You can't "delete" shortened URLs from your list (You "hide" them instead)
Pros:
  • Connected to your Google Account
  • Keeps a record of all of your past URLs (w/ log in)
  • Each URL has its own click statistic (counts the number of clicks/visits of the shortened URL)
  • Click statistics include clicks over time, browsers used, countries, platforms, and referrers
  • You can see what the original URL is and what the website looks like in the user interface
  • Each URL comes with a QR Code
  • Chrome Extension: Goo.gl URL Shortener!
Bit.ly








Bit.ly is my new favorite URL Shortener! This service is the one that I use most often because of its many pros and lack of cons.


Cons:
  • Honestly, I couldn't find any cons for bit.ly...
Pros:
  • You can create personal account to manage and track all of your URLs
  • You can customize URLs & go back and change them later!
  • Each URL has individual View Statistics (# of clicks, clicks over time, which social networks direct the most traffic, and by country)
  • The Shortened URLs are nicely organized (clean user interface)
  • You can add notes to URLs
  • Comes with a handy search tool to find buried URLs
  • You can edit the title of your bit.ly URL
  • Bundles feature (group URLs, add multiple curators, share & email)
  • Chrome extension: bitly | ♥ your bitmarks
  • iPhone App!


Have I missed anything with these popular URL Shorteners? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them in.

Which URL Shortener is your favorite and why?