Because long URLs can be unsightly and can “break” in emails, producing errors and “not found” messages, there will always be a need for URL shorteners. For a long time, the only URL shortener I ever used was TinyURL, which was simple to use and did the job. Then, of course, I discovered bit.ly– and haven’t looked back.
A big reason bit.ly has risen in popularity is, of course, because it’s Twitter‘s default shortener- but it’s also an awesome service. For example, bit.ly will not only shorten a link for me, it will keep a history of all the links I’ve shortened (provided I’m logged in to my bit.ly account), and give me statistics on those links as well- how many people clicked through, when they clicked, and from where. And to see all that, I need only add a plus sign (+) to my bit.ly shortened URL, for example, this link points to a previous post on BusinessLogs:
To see stats on the link, I just have to add the plus sign:
and here’s a screenshot of what I see:
Then there’s the bit.ly Sidebar, a browser bookmarklet that shortens your link, shows you the link’s traffic, conversations and history- and allows you to share it on Twitter, Gmail, Email or Facebook. Here’s a short video clip showing how it works:
Two other bit.ly-like services I’ve used with good results are is.gd, which I like because- well, because it says it’s “gd”!- and u.nu, which is fairly new to the game, but offers the shortest URLs (apparently, nothing’s shorter than u.nu) and refrains from using “look-alike” characters such as l, 1, I, 0, and O.
Do you use URL shorteners?