The Pros and Cons of URL Shorteners


Using a URL shortener as part of your digital marketing efforts may help you to more effectively gauge the impact of your social media marketing campaigns. There are many URL shorteners available to businesses and brands, many of which offer their service completely free of charge. A URL shortener is exactly what the name implies: it is a service that takes a long and unsightly URL and provides you with a shorter, neater URL that still leads to the desired webpage.


Benefits of Using a URL Shortener  

Initially, URL shorteners were primarily touted for use on social media where character constraints disallowed for an explanation or call to action to accompany long links. The sheer length of a URL alone could quickly chew up the 140 character allowance on sites such as Twitter. Using a URL shortener was a convenient way to get around that. However, many social sites have recognized this complaint and made it so that URL length is no longer counted as part of character allowance.


However, there are still benefits to using a URL shortening service in your social media marketing. Let’s explore some of those benefits.

  • Additional analytics. A means of accurately tracking link clicks and traffic sources.
  • Some URL shorteners, such as, allow you to customize your shortened link. This shorter, customized link can be easier for others to share as they can more easily remember it. For example, a link to sign up for an online seminar on branding can be shortened to to be more memorable and more easily shared.
  • Shorter, customized links have a greater impact in the minds of your audience, increasing their interest and supporting your call to action.
  • Affiliate codes cannot be removed from the link. This helps to ensure that you get your commission if someone clicks the link as they can’t remove the code from the link and deprive you of that rightful commission.


Disadvantages of URL Shorteners

Of course, there are some disadvantages to URL shorteners.

  • Original intended use has been nullified by social media platform changes, i.e. Twitter no longer counting links as part of character count.
  • Some consumers may have become blind to certain URL shorteners as the services are also used to promote spam.
  • Some consumers may be less inclined to click a shortened URL as it is impossible to tell to where the link points.

What Is A URL Shortener And How Can You Use It To Track Links?

URL Shortener is an online application that allows users to type in a long URL and the program then condenses it to a much shorter one. This is needful for a variety of reasons, including posts on Twitter. Shorter URLs look more attractive on websites and social media platforms and prevent word count issues on certain sites on the Internet.

There are some debates on whether having shortened URLs can hurt or enhance SEO. See this article which discusses this problem a bit more:

URLs can be a bit distracting when they are being placed in the middle of content. Whilst the content is meant to draw attention, the URL ends up getting in the way and makes for an unseemly look.

One of the biggest benefits of using a URL Shortener is the ability to use it to track links. Knowing how to perform this easy task will take away a lot of the headaches tracking links causes whilst ensuring the links a site has are effective at drawing in the desired traffic numbers.

When you use sites like Google for shortening URLs, you also gain the added benefit of having the ability to track your links to determine how many times they have been clicked. Bitly, for example, tells you how many times your link has been clicked, where it has been shared, and how other Bitly links are bringing in traffic to your content.

Some URL Shorteners even include Google analytic tracking data for even more benefit. This is a great way to track how effective your content is on the web and what changes you need to make, if any, to the content you have published on various websites and social media outlets.

These URL Shorteners are sometimes built into certain social media sites and can also be stand-alone applications and are certainly very useful in digital marketing especially when the URL cannot be seen as long and unwieldy. Once you learn how to use these convenient applications, you will wonder why you ever tracked your links the old way.

In the end, it pays to try out a URL shortener in order to determine the actual value to your business. It may surprise you and become an integral part of your digital marketing strategy.


About the Author

Tom Koh

Tom is the CEO and Principal Consultant of MediaOne, a leading digital marketing agency. He has consulted for MNCs like Canon, Maybank, Capitaland, SingTel, ST Engineering, WWF, Cambridge University, as well as Government organisations like Enterprise Singapore, Ministry of Law, National Galleries, NTUC, e2i, SingHealth. His articles are published and referenced in CNA, Straits Times, MoneyFM, Financial Times, Yahoo! Finance, Hubspot, Zendesk, CIO Advisor.


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