URL Shorteners: How to Use Tools Like Bit.ly Effectively
If you’ve ever used UTM codes or if you have blog posts with long URLs, you may have been tempted to reduce the length of these links. URL shorteners can be an easy way to do this, but there are some pros and cons to using these tools. Tools like bit.ly have been around for many years, which means that there has been plenty of time to develop both positive and negative uses for it.
The Two Most Common Tools
A few years ago, goo.gl was disabled by its developers and moved to a paid version of Firebase. Goo.gl is no longer available for use as a URL shortener, though it was quite popular pre-2018. Now, bit.ly is the most common tool available for URL shortening, and it works extremely well. The benefit to using a Google tool, of course, is that it will integrate directly into your Firebase/Analytics statistics. There are many other URL shorteners, but the most commonly used is bit.ly.
The Pros of Shortlinks
Long links look extremely clunky, leading to visual clutter and making it nearly impossible to link a website within a short social media post. Social media platforms have come a long way, however, and it’s not usually necessary to place the link text within the body of your post anymore (links will usually automatically convert to a clickable image now). However, some businesses find that engagement is higher when a short link is provided within the post. For these instances, a URL shortener certainly comes in handy.
Additionally, shortened URLs ensure that the individual that clicks the link cannot remove any affiliate marketing links or other codes (UTM codes, for example) prior to following through the link.
Another upside to URL shorteners is that they can be easier for clients and viewers to share – this is because the shortened URL is customizable. For example, bit.ly/URLshorteners would be easier to remember than this page’s long trail of forward slashes, post title words, and hyphens. As with any marketing tool, your business has to experiment with and decide what works best for you.
The Cons of Shortlinks
As could be expected, URL shorteners have been used and abused by millions; for example, sketchy websites that contain malware, spyware, or unsavory content could be hidden behind any customizable link. This has led to some distrust for widely-used, publicly-available platforms like bit.ly. If your audience is high-tech and has a distrust for bit.ly, you may want to consider investing in something more trustworthy, like Google’s Firebase URL shortener extension.
Using Shortlinks Effectively
Creating a “short link” is fairly simple; you start by inputting your desired destination (this is where you would paste your finished UTM link – if desired), then either output the link to an uncustomized “short link” or customize the link. Here at Marketing Matters, we recommend that you always customize your links to reflect their purpose. This will have two advantages:
- You will be able to identify and reuse your links more easily.
- Your audience will be able to identify and share these links with confidence.
Additionally, make sure to use UTM codes in your input links wherever possible – especially if you do not use the Google Analytics connected or Firebase shorteners. This will enable you to track clickthroughs and visits to your website! Go ahead and try out “short links” for your business; you can always revert back to full-length links if the “short links” don’t work out.
As a bonus, check out our article on UTM Tracking, you’ll be glad you did.