There are many tools and applications available to help marketers and content creators produce more quality content, and that includes link shorteners. Whether it’s a blog post, marketing email, or even a YouTube video description, using link shorteners is incredibly useful.
In this article, we are going to take a deeper look into three of the most popular link shorteners Bitly, TinyURL, and BL.INK — and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each to help marketers and content creators determine which tool is the best for them.
Why use a link shortener?
Let’s go back to the subject of quality content for a moment. Quality content is well-thought-out and well-written content that solves a reader’s or a prospect’s problem, answers their questions and looks clean and organized.
However, many URLs to those high-quality blog posts and articles are long, wordy, and just look messy—but are still necessary for SEO purposes. Links help describe the content, but are lengthy and aren’t exactly the easiest to share in emails, on web pages, or on social media. Additionally, short links are also seen as more trustworthy and appear less “spammy” and suspicious to readers and prospects.
This is where a link shortener tool comes in handy… Link shorteners allow users to shorten and “clean up” lengthy URLs. Therefore, over time, link shorteners have become a necessary tool for content creators and marketers to add to their martech stacks.
The best link shortener tools allow users to:
- Shorten links
- Customize and/or brand links
- Track performance metrics of each short link
- Save space and reduce characters
How we reviewed each link shortener
To ensure we conduct fair reviews of each tool, we use the following criteria:
- Time to get going. How easy is it to set up and use this tool?
- Ease of use. How is the user interface designed? How easy is it to use overall?
- Feature richness. What features are available? Are the features helpful? Do the features provide value for the cost?
- Price. How much does the platform cost? What is the overall cost versus value?
At the end of this article, we will provide an overall grade and declare the best link shortener tool.
1. Deep-dive review: Bitly
When marketers think of a URL shortener, Bitly is likely the first tool to come to mind. Bitly is one of the most popular link shorteners available today and has been reigning the market since 2008. Not only is Bitly super-easy to use, but it also provides marketers with various other features.
Feature richness. There is a lot to love about Bitly. Bitly is far more than just a link shortener, it also provides users and marketers with the ability to create custom and encrypted short links, redirect links, review data and analytics related to the number of clicks and organic shares your Bitly short links generated, and also integrate Bitly with other tools and apps, such as social media and other digital marketing dashboards. All in all, Bitly rates a 5 out of 5 on the “feature richness” scale.
Time to get going. Additionally, Bitly is easy to set up and start using, even if you have never used a link shortener before. It only takes a few minutes to set up an account and begin using Bitly. Although using Bitly is very straightforward, they also offer a “Bitly 101” user guide, resources, videos, and other materials to help users make the most out of this five-star link shortener tool.
Ease of use. As mentioned in the point above, it takes minutes to set up an account and begin using Bitly. Simply sign up and start “shortening.” Additionally, the other Bitly features are also incredibly easy to use and intuitive, even for the most basic users or marketers.
Price. Although Bitly does offer a free plan, it is very limited. It only allows users to create up to 50 short links per month. For some users, this might be enough. It allows users to shorten links and create Bitly-branded QR codes. If you want link management, data and analytics, non-Bitly-branded QR codes, and other robust features, then a paid plan is necessary.
Bitly pricing plans are $8 per month for 200 links, $29 for 1,500 links, or $199 per month for 3,000 links. There are also high-level, enterprise plans available at a custom price.
Grade: A (3.98 out of 5 possible points)
2. Deep-dive review: TinyURL
TinyURL is another link shortener tool with a very different look and feel from Bitly. In fact, TinyURL was available before Bitly. This tool is best for users who just need to generate short links on occasion, and don’t really need advanced link management.
Time to get going. Seconds. TinyURL is easy and free to use and does not require users to sign up for an account to use it. Users can simply copy and paste a long link into the link shortener box, and click “Make TinyURL.” That’s it.
Ease of use. TinyURL is very straightforward and easy to use. Users need little guidance, resources, or set-up time to start using this link shortener. Simply enter a long link into the box and click the “Make TinyURL” button. Users can also create custom tiny URLs without an account.
Feature richness. In addition to a browser extension, and creating custom tiny URLs, users also have the ability to preview custom links and keep track of link history. Sign up for a paid plan to get detailed real-time link performance and click data.
Price. TinyURL offers a free plan, but you’ll want to create an account to keep track of your full link history. Paid plans are available at $9.99 per month for unlimited tracked clicks, link tagging, and URL editing and $99 per month for those who need massive quantities of links shortened for bulk campaigns.
Feature-richness. If you’re looking for a basic free link shortening tool, TinyURL is a great option — but a limited one. If you want more features like a dashboard, tagging capabilities, and detailed analytics, which TinyURL offers, you’ll have to pay $9.99 per month.
Grade: B+ (3.58 out of 5 possible points)
3. Deep-dive review: BL.INK
BL.INK is another robust link shortener tool that allows marketers and users to take link shortening to a whole new level.
Although BL.INK and Bitly are designed with similar features and functionalities, which we will review in this deep dive section, BL.INK takes it one step further by offering domain registration services, full campaign management features complete with integrated reporting, as well as security features and advanced user management features.
Time to get going. Although BL.INK does require a user account to get going, it doesn’t force you to enter a credit card or form of payment, which is a huge plus, especially for users who want to stick with the “freemium” version.
After setting up an account, BL.INK is relatively easy to use. Users might get a little caught up in exploring the various options and features, but grabbing a tiny URL is easy and can be done within only a few minutes of exploring the tool.
Feature richness. BL.INK certainly wins this category. As we mentioned briefly above, BL.INK offers a number of useful and valuable features, particularly for marketers, such as robust link tracking and campaign management, which includes the ability to track performance across multiple platforms. It also allows users to brand their links, which is a huge plus. Users can even add notes relevant to specific links for themselves or team members.
BL.INK is also designed with open API access as well as a list of security features and configurations for users with strict compliance requirements, including audit logs and tiered user access permissions.
Ease of use. After reading a handful of customer reviews, users rave about BL.INK. In many reviews, users claim that BL.INK far exceeds their expectations in terms of available features, functionality, and ease of use.
Price. BL.INK offers both a free plan as well as several paid plans and a free 21-day trial. There is an Expert plan available at $48 per month, a Small Business plan at $99 per month, a Team plan at $299 per month, and a Business plan at $599 per month. There is also an Enterprise plan available at a custom price. Many users feel the Enterprise plan is a bit overkill; the majority of users can see value from BL.INK’s basic features at a fraction of the cost.
All in all, BL.INK’s outstanding features and range of plans appeal to a wide range of audiences.
Grade: A+ (4.35 out of 5 possible points)
The “winning” link shortener tool is…
There are a number of link shortener tools available today. However, we have narrowed them down to the top three that we think are best for individual content creators, marketers, and small or startup businesses.
After reviewing each of these link shortener tools, and admitting they each have their own unique strengths, we find that BL.INK is the best option for robust features and tracking. BL.INK also offers a number of plans, so users and marketers are bound to find the best-fit plan for them without paying for features they don’t need.
Therefore, we declare BL.INK as the link shortener “winner.” However, Bitly and TinyURL are both excellent, more affordable options that each have their own strengths, depending on your needs.
Choosing the best link shortener for you
Link shorteners are important tools to add to your martech stack. The best URL shorteners allow users to shorten and customize their links, so they aren’t just shorter and easier to work with, but so they also look cleaner. Gathering insights from your tracked links is also a helpful feature, so you can learn what content resonates with your audience—and what doesn’t.