With people up-in-arms over the more complicated, less user-friendly Bitly update today, it seemed like a good time to point out 5 great alternative URL shorteners that you can switch to if Bitly’s got you down.
URL shorteners are pretty much a requirement of using Twitter. Rather than sharing bulky links that eat away at your 140 character count, you can share 20 character, bite-sized shortened links that allow for commenting and retweeting.
Bitly was (and still is, but for how long is debatable) the go-to URL shortener for the vast majority of Twitter users. It was the most popular and thus the most trusted, and links shortened with Bitly would see more clicks than those shortened with other services.
I’m using the past-tense when talking about Bitly here because they recently changed their entire user experience to make it much, much harder to shorten links. Rather than a one- to two- click process, users now have to navigate through a labyrinth of buttons and new terminology (Bitmarks? Notes? Bundles?) before they get their pretty 20 character shortened URL.
And this means lots of users will be looking for alternatives. Here are my five favorite Bitly alternatives, in no particular order. They are all quite popular, safe, and offer features like stats, tracking, and integration with some of the most-used Twitter dashboards.
Goo.gl is the official URL shortener from Google. It comes with simple stats and analytics to see how many clicks your links are getting, and it is growing in popularity on Twitter.
Ow.ly is HootSuite’s URL shortener. You can use it from within the HootSuite dashboard with a single click, or as a stand-alone URL shortener. It takes a bit more time than some of the other shorteners as you have to enter a captcha when you shorten a link outside of the HootSuite dashboard, but this also means that it’s a more secure shortening service than some of the others.
TinyURL has shortened billions of links, and was actually used by Twitter itself for a while before Twitter developed its own URL shortening service. TinyURL is simple to use, and allows custom URLs that replace the random characters of shortened URLs with text defined by you.
Su.pr is StumbleUpon’s official URL shortener. It is more of a dashboard/URL shortener hybrid, as it allows you to not only shorten links, but to schedule across multiple social networks and track traffic, retweets, clicks and more.
Lnk.co will not only shorten your links, but will even pay you when you share them. You can choose to include ads with your shared links, and earn money when someone clicks on them – be careful about using this one, as ads on all your links might start to annoy your followers, but it is definitely one to keep your eye on.
Twitter itself has a URL shortening service called t.co. It is automatically used to shorten all links (which have not been previously shortened) on Twitter.com. You can’t use it as a stand-alone URL shortening service, but the fact that it is built in to Twitter.com makes it an attractive option for many users.