Bitly Link Shortener

When it comes to some online services you rely on for your business, having a significantly lengthy history of reliable operation is a seriously major plus. I’d say a service that lets you create and manage custom shortened redirecting links would be one of those.

You don’t really want to spend a lot of time and effort creating, using, promoting and distributing links that suddenly just go dead and useless one day, do you? Didn’t think so.

For custom link shortening/redirection, Bitly’s as historically solid as it gets. It came on the scene in the late 2000s, if memory serves. In fact, back then, it was the standard link shortener used on Twitter before it decided to roll out and use its own in-house solution.

I just got reminded of Bitly because I came across a recent marketing campaign by one of its many competitors, something that looks pretty cool, but somehow in my opinion still not quite as reassuring to me next to Bitly’s lengthy market presence.

Besides, Bitly’s got a way better free option than that other guy.

In brief: A link shortener/redirector like Bitly lets you create a custom unique short link that, when clicked on or visited, actually redirects to a different link destination, typically a much longer one. Like Twitter, I prefer to do that with an in-house solution, such as the previously featured Pretty Links, but you’ll need to be running WordPress to use that. Not using WordPress? Bitly’s a heck of a good option.

Here, let’s see it in action. Instead of sharing this long actual URL to that Pretty Links write up:

I used Bitly to create this short one instead:

Way easier to use and distribute, particularly in emails and smaller visual spaces, like ads. Since I’m just using a free Bitly account for this (which lets you create up to 50 new links each month), I can’t really tap its premium features, like the ability to use a custom domain and link name. But many of Bitly’s other useful features are still provided with a free account, like some tracking metrics, generating QR codes, etc.

The custom shortened links work and behave like any other link. Here, I’ll use another custom shortened link for the green Go to button below just like I normally would. Click on it, and you’ll end up at Bitly. No practical discernable difference for the end user at all, except this time, I can log into my Bitly account, and it will tell me exactly how many of you have clicked on it without me needing to dig through server logs. Cool huh?

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