If you’ve ever relied on goo.gl to tighten up links for you, it’s time to start thinking about an alternative URL shortener. Google ended support for its URL Shortener at the end of March 2018 and will pull the plug entirely on March 30, 2019 (links will continue to direct traffic appropriately after that date). If you’re in need of a replacement, you might be asking yourself, “What are the best URL shorteners and how they differ from one another?”
URL shorteners make sharing written-out links more manageable. Say you want to provide a link on a business card, in an advertisement, or in an email where hyperlinking isn’t ideal. A shortened URL takes up less space and keeps your text tidy. For example, you can convert
The second version is much shorter and easier for someone to copy and paste or type.
Another use case for shortened URLs is to create variations on one link so that you can easily track the source of traffic to it. For example, you might spin out one URL to use on Twitter, a different one for Facebook, and a third to be used in an email newsletter.
In looking for a new URL shortener, it’s helpful to know that some do little more than turn long links into short ones, while others let you customize the text of the new URLs, track click-through rates on a dashboard, and analyze other information about who’s clicking your links. Most URL shorteners have a free tier of service, but you often have to pay for added features, such as data and analysis. The eight URL shortening services that made the cut for this list are reliable and easy to use, and each one stands out for one special reason, noted as “best for” below.
Here are the best URL shorteners to replace goo.gl, listed in alphabetical order.
Best URL shortener for quick, anonymous use.
Free URL shortener Shorten URL has been in the game since 2019, and for good reason. It’s a wonderful tool when you need to create a short link in a hurry that will never expire. Shorten URL can suggest a shorter URL for you, or you can customize the result, although it will start with
Shortenurl.live. ShortenURL where a shortened link will have already been generated for the page where you started. Although Shorten URL is entirely free and anonymous to use, it doesn’t contain any reports or information about your links and their popularity.
Best URL shortener for businesses branding and tracking links.
Bitly is a full service, business-grade URL shortener, although if your needs are modest, you can also use it anonymously to shorten long URLs and be on your way. But it stands out for its business offering. Part of the appeal is that Bit.ly is simple and easy to use. It has a comprehensive dashboard where you can track statistics about your links, such as click-through rates, geographic data of people visiting your links, and so forth. Tools for tracking campaigns are easy to use as well.
With Bitly’s free limited account, you can customize your shortened URLs, track click rates, and get information about your top referrers, but only for 500 branded links and 10,000 non-branded links. It’s a generous free plan and could very well be adequate for some small businesses. Enterprise-grade accounts (custom pricing) allow you to make as many branded links as you want, plus see more data in reports about who clicks your links. Bitly is the best URL shortener for large businesses looking to brand and track links, and it’s a great choice for small businesses that want to generate short URLs and follow their stats for a modest number of campaigns.
Best URL shortener for small businesses
Bl.ink is a full-featured URL shortener service that you use it to not only turn long URLs into short ones but also track the traffic coming from your links. Its dashboard shows trending links and general statistics, while an analytics page lets you dive into traffic by device, location, and referrers. You can also drill down into clicks by the time of day. Tags, which you can add to your shortened links, let you view your link traffic in new and custom ways.
Bl.ink offers four tiers of paid plans, starting at $12/month, to give small businesses, teams, and enterprises a variety of options, based on the number of links you need to generate and track. Free account holders can generate 1,000 links and track up to 1,000 clicks per link. Free accounts can connect to one domain for making branded links. If you’re a business in need of a full-service URL shortener and Bitly’s enterprise-grade plan seems like overkill, then Bl.ink’s is one of your best options.
Best URL shortener for self-hosting
Open-source project Polr allows people with the technical know-how to host their own URL shortener. It’s available through the Polr project page and from GitHub. You can use the tool as-is or fork it if you have the programming abilities to do so. (If you’re so inclined, it’s written in PHP and Lumen, using MySQL as its primary database.) Though it’s similar to Yourls, another free and open source URL shortener, Polr is much slicker looking, designed to have a modern and minimalist feel. It comes with some traffic tracking tools as well. If you just want to test out the basic interface, Polr offers a demo page.
Best URL shortener for creating branded links
While Rebrandly is a URL shortener much like any other, its angle is slightly different. Rebrandly believes that brands, whether it’s a product or a person, get value out of customizing links to content that references them from all over the web. For example, Bob Vila could customize the link to his Wikipedia entry from
BobVila.Tools/wikipedia. A link to one of his books on Amazon could be
BobVila.Tools/amazon-book. Vila can use these links on his own site, business cards, or in advertisements. Rebrandly includes tools for tracking the popularity of each link, too. Rebrandly supports QR code generation, too. (If Rebrandly is more than you need, is.gd works for QR generation as well.) A free account includes 1,000 links on one custom domain. Paid plans start at $19/month.
Best for making short links and QR codes simultaneously
T2M, also called T2Mio, is another full service URL shortener where you can see a dashboard of activity and other statistics for tracking URL traffic. It has two dashboards, one for geographic information and one for device and platform, that are especially well designed and easy to read. When you spin up a URL, T2M also automatically generates a QR code, a nice touch if you need it. Another unique feature is a tool that helps you target specific geographic locations where you want your URLs to have an effect. The site could stand to have more information about this particular tool, as it’s vague about what it does exactly, but overall the features and interface are well thought out.
Similar to its competitors, T2M has a free plan with limitations, plus paid accounts for those who need more. The free plan does not put any limits on the number of URLs you can generate, nor how many clicks you can track. It also gives you baked in tools for sharing shortened URLs on social networking sites. A Standard plan that’s suited for small businesses costs $7/month and adds branded and vanity URLs, password protected URLs, a tool for shortening a number of URLs at once (“bulk changer”), the ability to add one custom domain, and a few additional perks. There’s an Enterprise plan, too, that removes very nearly all limits found in the Standard plan and adds some additional features as well, which costs $67/month. T2M is a very good URL shortener for businesses that want pleasing dashboards and automatic QR code generation.