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,, and Some are far better than others, but I'll break down their pros and cons below. 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.

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

  • 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)
  • 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: URL Shortener! 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.

  • Honestly, I couldn't find any cons for
  • 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 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?

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