Link shortener services started several decades ago. In this blog post I will explain what a shortener does, the benefits and drawbacks, and why there is only one shortener I use.
First, what is a link?
In its simplest sense, a link is just what you click on to go from one place on the Internet to another. For example, a link can take you to a file or page. It can be on the same website you are currently viewing or another. A link can also be commonly found in an email or text.
A link shortener (also referred to as a URL shortener) is an online tool that takes a long and sometimes ugly or unruly URL or web address and converts it into something shorter and better looking. There are many online services that provide shortening.
A link shortener can provide several major benefits for marketing
A link shortener can track important data about your links. They can automatically track things like the number of clicks a link gets and even the date and time of the clicks. They can also track the users device type, particular browser used, and geographic location. This can be really beneficial for monitoring the effectiveness of your marketing. This kind of tracking combined with knowing when an email is opened really helps me keep an eye on business!
Using multiple shortened links at the same time allows you to split test things like headlines, landing pages, and ad sources. Imagine having a good handle on what really works and what doesn’t work in your marketing.
A shortener can also allow you to brand your links. It provides a shortened link but then allows you to add your custom keyword or words as part of the link. This can give a boost to your personal branding
There is a potential problem with link shorteners in general that you need to be aware of. Because shortening hides the original web address, shortened links have been taken advantage of by spammers. Shortening makes it easy for them to disguise malicious links and get you to click on them. Spammers have used these links to deliver malware, phishing content, illegal content, and more.
Because of this, using several shortening services can even cause your email to be blacklisted and end up in spam folders. SURBL maintains a databse of web addresses that appear in spam. As part of that, they also keep a list of the most often misused shorteners. The list includes common names such as bit.ly and tinyurl. Check it out, The list is constantly updated. You need to be choosy about the shortening service you use.
Pretty Links is the only shortener I use
In fact, Pretty Links is probably my favorite WordPress plugin. What I like best about using Pretty Links is that it builds links using my own domain. The links look better, they help brand ME, and I don’t have to worry about my emails getting blocked as sometimes happens with outside shortening services.
It is quick and simple to use. Everything is done from a control panel inside my blog. It gives me the tracking information I want. And I never worry about a shortening service going under and my existing links no longer working. Also, the price is right. I use the free version of Pretty Links.
If you are trying to get a better handle on your marketing, I highly recommend the Pretty Links link shortener.
To your success,