There are about a million different was to shrink a URL these days. I asked my friends on Twitter and FriendFeed what service they use. Most of you picked TinyURL or whatever service your software chose for you. Further discussion revealed that many of us have no clue how useful a URL shortener can be, so I figured I’d throw a few out there and you can see if one stands out to you.
A few people told me they use is.gd because of it’s sheer simplicity. It compresses your URL down to 17 characters and you can install a browser bookmarklet to shorten whatever site you’re looking at. One thing I noticed is that the bookmarklet doesn’t open in a new window, so you’ll lose your place if you happen to be reading something or watching a video. I don’t like bookmarklets that take over my browser. It’s 2009.
Funny enough, I think my mom hipped me to tr.im when she first got on Twitter a couple months ago. I didn’t realize at that time that some of these shorteners had such detailed statistics. This lets you see who is actually clicking on the URLs that you share and where those clicks are coming from.
It has 3 different bookmarklets:
- Sends you to their site to shorten and/or tweet the URL
- Opens their site in a new window to shorten and/or tweet the url
- Shortens the URL and then sends you to Twitter’s site to tweet the URL.
The first option is out of the question for me. As I said, I don’t appreciate being taken away from the site I’m on. When I tried the second bookmarklet, tr.im opened in a new window, but it also obliterated the site I was on. On the plus side, tr.im also boasts a Firefox plugin, a Ubiquity command, and an OSX Dashboard widget. Tr.im also gets your URL down to 17 characters.
Not only does Cli.gs get your URL down to about 20 characters, but it also provides detailed statistics about who is clicking your junk from where. You get “deep real-time analytics” that also include the time a visitor came through as well geographical location. You can access cli.gs easily with their bookmarklet, Google gadget, or Ubiquity command. You will also need an account to actually use Cligs, presumably because the stats are all private. Cli.gs also lets you customize the URL.
When I mentioned I was looking for info about all these different shorteners on Twitter, @cligs (Pierre) actually hit me up and offered some insight into what makes cli.gs different:
- Cligs gives you unlimited short URLs pointing to the same destination. This means you can use a different URL for different marketing channels and track their progress independently
- It does HTTP 301 forwards which are search-engine friendly. Yes other URL shorteners also use 301′s but not all of them
- Geotargeting and differentiating between bot (automated) and human traffic. I know of no other URL shortener that has these features and they are very useful for really understanding your traffic
The analytics that Cligs provides are second to none and Pierre hints that the new soon to be released Cligs version will be even better.
Bit.ly happens to be my shortener of choice, although I may be exploring other options after this post. The stats for bit.ly are aggregated (there goes that word again) so that you can see all stats for a given source. If you sign up for an account you will also be able to see stats for your particular URL for that source. The main reason I’ve stayed with bit.ly is the interface. They have 2 versions of their bookmarklet:
- bit.ly – takes you to their site to shorten and/or tweet the URL. It will also include any highlighted content.
- bit.info – shortens the URL and opens a slick translucent sidebar over the page you’re looking at that provides all types of stats on it
The simple manner in which the bit.info bookmarklet works is what has kept me using bit.ly. I want to shorten a URL and share it, I do not want to be dragged away from what I’m reading or watching. Bit.ly also provides a Google Gadget if you’re into that sort of thing. Bit.ly and Cli.gs both show you any mentions of the URL across most social networks, but Bit.ly also happens to pull in metadata using Open Calais and MetaCarta so that you can see stuff like the Company/Person that owns the page or the Artist/Group that’s being linked to. Bit.ly gets your URL down to about 18 characters and you have the option to customize the URL.
I think Tweetburner was the first URL shortener I messed with that had stats. This was early on in my Twitter career (which hasn’t been all that long, actually). Tweetburner definitely doesn’t create the shortest URL’s (about 22 characters), but the bookmarklet conveniently opens in a new window and you have the option to post the URL to Twitter and/or FriendFeed. The stats are pretty basic, but still useful for those who just wanna know if anyone is clicking their junk. Another useful Tweetburner feature is right on the homepage. You can see recently shared, most popular, and top 10 “twurls” in the last hour.
Adjix is a pretty special case when it comes down to URL shorteners. Their focus isn’t so much on getting the URL shortened as it is on making a little money in the process. We recently talked about monetizing your Twitter feed, so Adjix is another weapon to add to your arsenal.
Keep in mind, embedding an ad into your tweet is optional. Once you do, a removable banner will be displayed at the top of the page when someone clicks the link. Adjix provides detailed statistics and has a bunch of different ways to post:
- One-click – Shrink a link with one click using your default link ad type.
- Two-Click – Shrink a link and select any ad type with two clicks.
- Adjix2Twitter - Shrinks a link and pastes the shortened link inside your tweet in one click. From there, you can edit the tweet and then post it to Twitter.
- Adjix2Twitter (tweet only) - Use this when you want to tweet directly from your web browser without needing to shrink a link.
Adjix provides a few video tutorials on how to use the system and you have control over what types of ads get displayed. Other features of note: You can schedule a tweet for a specific time and you can tweet from multiple accounts.
What URL shorteners do you use? How do you track your click statistics? Does Adjix’s method of monetization bother you?Category: social media, Social Networking, web 2.0 | Tags: adjix, bit.ly, cli.gs, is.gd, tr.im, tweetburner, twurl