URL shortening services have been around for many years. They make life simpler by taking long URLs and making a shortened version. This shortened version is basically a page on the shortening service’s website that forwards to the desired URL. The many uses/benefits of URL shortening services include:
- making the most out of character limits in messaging services such as Twitter
- quick and easy fix for email clients or other programs that chop off part of a URL due to a line break
- it’s pleasant to see a short URL as opposed to a long one
- keeping track of the click statistics of a link
- hiding affiliate links
For instance, say I want to tweet a link to that awesome article on Byte Revel about Grooveshark. The normal URL is /2011/05/03/grooveshark-listen-to-millions-of-songs-for-free/. There’s no way we want to use up our precious character count with that! So, we head over to URL shortening service is.gd and paste /2011/05/03/grooveshark-listen-to-millions-of-songs-for-free/ into the “shorten!” bar. Is.gd gives me a nice short link- http://is.gd/EBnKBn.
One of the few disadvantages of shortened URLs is that they can be used to hide links to malicious websites. Be sure that you trust the author of a shortened link before clicking on it. Of course, this is true with all links, not just shortened ones.
Anyhow, let’s cut to the chase. Here’s a list of some of the best URL shortening services out there!
- tinyurl.com -The best known URL shortener; has option to choose alias; has bookmarklet; reliable
- is.gd -Has a short name; it’s reliable; link statistics available; has option to choose alias
- ow.ly -It’s just simple and reliable
- bit.ly -Provides statistics; customizable alias with login
- cli.gs -wide variety of statistics available; customizable alias with login; geolocation based links; easy link editing with login
- metamark.net -optional password protection; custom URL; bookmarklet
- goo.gl -Google’s own link shortener; QR codes; traffic sources; reliable; click-through statistics