7 Best URL Shorteners to Track, Shrink, Mask Long Links (2021)

January 19, 2021

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Last Modified: January 19, 2021 8:33 AM

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In this article on best URL shorteners for 2021, you will find the top 7 online tools to shorten links that can be used for many purposes and as alternatives to Google URL shortener service.

Have you ever found in a difficult position where you had to choose one of the best URL shorteners with features like the custom domain to track link clicks and analyze visitor details?

Or maybe you’re looking for best Google URL shortener alternatives because it is no longer available.

In today’s article, I will share the best link shortening tools with top features for marketers so that you can compare each of them.

Best URL Shorteners for Marketers

Replug

edit-replug-link-slug
Shorten URL to custom name

Replug is one of the best URL shortening tools in the market. If you are looking for a shortener with features like audience retargeting, firing custom scripts on third-party websites, and tracking conversions, Replug might be an excellent choice for you.

It encompasses many features such as:

Custom domains

Use your brand for short links ex: yourdomain.com/descriptive-permalink

connecting custom domain
Connecting custom domain and setting up traffic routing web addresses

Also, unlike most other link shorteners such as Bitly and TinyURL, Replug allows you to add custom 404 redirections and Branded domain web addresses. Here’s what does that mean to you:

  • Custom 404 redirection — Allows you to assign a page where the users will be redirected of the URL is incorrect ex: https://link.upcontests.com/404 (this is a non-shortened link and will be redirected to the UpContests website homepage)
  • Branded domain — if someone tries to visit the main domain (ex: https://link.upcontests.com), the person will be redirected to the web address specified under this section.

Custom slugs

Besides using a custom domain for shrinking links, you can edit the slug so that the links can be modified to be memorable and non-ugly. ex: link.upcontests.com/integrately (This shortened link redirects to the Integrately website)

Recent activity metrics

You can check the latest activity of your links to see how your campaigns performed. This makes Replug one of the top URL shorteners out there for marketers.

Recent activity
Recent activity

You can set your links’ expiry date and time in Replug so that your links won’t function after the time specified. They will be redirected to the web address you designated in custom 404 redirections settings.

set the link expiry date and time
Set the link expiry date and time

Protect your shortened links by enabling password protection feature.

Embed UTM tracking parameters

Add UTM tracking parameters to your short links. You will be able to track link performance through your analytics tool such as Google Analytics.

creating UTM tracking preset
Creating UTM tracking preset

Apart from the above features, Replug also provides exclusive features that you cannot see on most tools. Some of them are:

  • QR code generator for links — Download the QR code for every shortened link
  • Add retargeting pixels — Now you can add retargeting pixels for services such as Facebook ads, Google Ads, and LinkedIn ads in the links
  • Add call-to-actions for links — Display signup forms, notification bars to capture leads and promote your service
  • Create bio landing pages — Generate one-page landing pages for social media marketing campaigns. Add your shortened URLs on the bio description on Instagram and Tiktok to generate traffic and sales to your business.

Replug also has a Chrome extension that makes it’s so much easier to create a short link of a blog post, an article, etc., without visiting the Replug dashboard.

creating Replug short link
Making a short link on Replug

Other features of Replug:

  • Change the destination page
  • Free and automatic SSL activation for custom domains
  • Preview and edit the meta tags: Change the search engine appearance of your shortened links
  • Mask links
  • Bulk link shortening tool
  • Convert RSS feed to short links
  • API
  • Advanced analytics
  • Tag links so that you can manage them better later
  • Monthly and weekly link tracking performance report delivered to your email
  • Add collaborators

Price: Replug is a premium link shortening tool for marketers and its monthly subscription plans start from $19/mo. Sign up for a free trial to try Replug.

Learn more in our Replug review.

PixelMe

PixelMe link creation process
Making a short link in PixelMe

PixelMe is another link shortening tool for marketers. Like Replug, PixelMe is mainly made for marketers to grow their businesses via advertising, etc.,

PixelMe allows you to create branded links by integrating your custom domain.

Pixelme custom domain setup
PixelMe custom domain setup

UTM Tracking

Embed UTM tracking parameters to your links so that you can track progress in Google Analytics.

GDPR settings

Ask users to accept GDPR terms before accessing any link.

Import multiple links to Pixelme and shorten them.

multiple links URL shortener of PixelMe
URL shortener multiple links of PixelMe

PixelMe’s link analytics also comes in handy on many occasions. It tracks click count, GEO statistics, referring sites, Operating systems, and browser details of users.

link analytics
Analytics

Besides above main features, PixelMe offers these as well:

  • QR code generator
  • Link management via tags
  • API – Manipulate account information, creation, modification, and deletion of redirects with API.
  • Link retargeting – Add retargeting pixels to the links and build a custom audience in your favorite ads platform
  • Bio link pages – Build beautiful landing pages for social media
  • Link preview – Edit the link with a picture and description so that they will appear according to your needs on social media.

Price: PixelMe provides a free tier and it includes up to 5,000 clicks per month. But, the free plan doesn’t come with a branded domain feature. So you will have to upgrade to a paid plan. PixelMe’s subscription plans start at $29 per month.

Learn more in our PixelMe review.

Yourls

Yourls stands for Your Own URL Shortener. It is a free and open-source link shortening PHP script that you can download and install on your server.

Since it’s built to be lightweight and non-bloated, it won’t take up on heavy server resources.

Here are some features of Yourls open source URL shortener.

  • Self-hosted link shortener — Since you run the server and don’t use a third party link shortener, you will not share your data with anyone else.
  • Create private and public links
  • Sequential or custom URL keywords
  • Statistics such as link clicks reports, referral stats, and geolocations
  • Sample files for creating your own public interface
  • WordPress plugin to use shortened links on your WordPress blog
  • Additional features and functionalities can be activated via plugins and tools
  • Bookmarklet to create short links online with ease
  • API to pull data from your Yourls account and use it on your own software

Since Yourls is an open-source and self-hosted URL shortening tool, you can customize the dashboard and enable the functionalities that you want.

Watch this video tutorial learn how to install Yourls on your server and customize the platform.

Price: FREE

rocketlink-logo-transparent

RocketLink is a feature-rich link shortener for marketers who want to create branded short links with their own domains to establish the brand identity.

RocketLink comes with different features. Some of them are:

  • Retargeting pixels – Create a custom audience by retargeting people who clicked your links
  • Call to action widgets – Capture visitors by showing CTA widgets. You can install tools such as Convertful, Convertbox, and Sumo.
  • Custom 404 redirects
  • UTM tag integration
  • QR code generator for links
  • Custom thumbnails
  • CSV export
  • GDPR consent option
  • Chrome and Firefox browser extensions

Price: RocketLink’s doesn’t have a free plan but you can signup for a free 10-days trial. Their paid plans are based on a links-per-month basis. So, every plan has got unlimited clicks and the only cap is shortened clicks created each month. If you are a media buyer and run paid advertising campaigns with high volume, RocketLink would be an awesome link shortener service.

Polr

If you want to build up your own link shortening service and/or do not want to rely on third-party services, Polr might be your choice.

Polr is another open-source script for people who want to create and host their own link shortener online. However, it will be need skills in MySQL, PHP, and Lumen framework to use this one.

But, It has got awesome features for link analytics, link management, and user management.

How to install Polr URL shortener PHP Script

If you are an agency owner that uses digital marketing tools and want to offer services such as link management on your own self-hosted link shortening tool, Polr would be a good choice.

Polr website provides a demo page for both admin and user accounts. Test this tool over here and see if it’s got things that you were looking for.

Price: FREE

Bitly

Bitly is one of the most popular link shorteners out there. And it was one of the oldest link shortening tools with a free plan and easy to use interface. That is why Bitly has got over a billion link redirections a while ago.

Bitly has become a widely-used link short tool by many people. It’s because it got many features that could take your link management to the next level.

Here are some features of Bitly:

  • Branded links – Add your custom domain with Bitly and create branded short links.
  • Auto-branding – Enable automatic branding for any shortened link that is made on Bitly by others. Analyze how those links performed in your account analytics
  • Change the destination page for branded short links
  • Unlimited link clicks
  • Edit the shortened URL’s back-half (the slug)
  • Web browser extensions for Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox.
  • Analytics on the city-level and device-level
  • Free SSL, QR codes, and mobile deep linking to designate the right people to the right place of your mobile app
  • Designates pages for 404 dead pages and room domain name
  • Mobile app to create short links and manage your links
  • Link tagging, filtering, and social sharing options.

Since Bitly is supported by many online tools directly (ex: ContentStudio.io, MissingLetter) and integrated with Zapier, you can streamline your work process and automate your link shortening workflow very easily.

Price: You can start using Bitly without an account. But, if you want to create multiple shortened links and manage them, you will have to open a free account. However, creating custom branded links and most other features are in the paid subscription plans. Bitly Basic which is the first tier plan costs $35 per month.

Bl.ink
Create a new b.link

BL.INK is a fully feature-packed link shortening tool for every marketer and business who want to supercharge their online campaigns.

Besides advanced and powerful analytics features such as the ability to see visitors’ GEO locations, devices, browser & OS details, and referer site’s information, you can assign different destinations (URLs) based on various metrics.

For example, you can redirect visitors to different web pages based on the day, date, time, geography, language, and device.

Also, Blink link shortener has got many features for everyday marketers and big business alike. Here are some:

  • Branded custom domain for shortened links
  • Edit branded link
  • Unlimited redirections
  • Multiple link redirections including 301 and 307 permanent methods
  • Block IPs
  • Auto archive and delete links (create shortened links with an expiration date)
  • Link tags and notes
  • Import and export links
  • Mask links – Instead of redirecting users to the original URL, mask the URL
  • API, Bookmarklet, browser extensions for Chrome, Firefox, and iOS app

Also, if you want to integrate Bl.ink with other tools, there’s a Zapier integration so you can connect your apps and automate the branded link creation process.

Price: Unlike most other best link shorteners listed in this post, Bl.ink has a very generous free plan. The Bl.ink free plan includes 1,000 active links, 1,000 clicks per link, unlimited redirects, and one custom domain. Also, the free plan allows you to create branded links (ex: yourdomain.com/customslug) and edit the branded URL later on.

Bl.ink’s subscription packages start at $12/month and go to three figures per month onwards.

You might be wondering why you should create shorten links in your marketing campaigns. Here are a few reasons why you should consider making short links.

  • Convert long ugly URLs into short memorable and descriptive URLs: Besides your generic blog post links, you can shorten affiliate links and make them recognizable so that you will make more sales.
  • SEO Benefits: Regardless of you consider Search Engine Optimization is a big part of your business or not, using a short URL will help to rank your blog for more relevant keywords in search engines and drive more backlinks, shares, and direct visitors. Neil Patel shared his views on this better. Watch it over here.
  • Emphasize your brand identity: We use Replug and have already integrated our domain, UpContests.com to generate custom links for our campaigns. This allows us not only to spread out the brand identity amongst people but also to increase the number of clicks.
  • Enhance the CTR of marketing campaigns: If you are going to use a link shortener for advertising campaigns, using a custom URL shortener will improve the Click-through rates of your ad campaigns. Bitly has found that using branded custom links gets 34% more clicks than regular ones.
  • Overcome obstacles from social media: The domain names of several link shortening services are barred by social networks such as Facebook because of the abuse. Therefore, you will certainly have to use an URL shortener with a custom domain to get your links accepted into Facebook and others.
  • Analyze your campaigns’ success: Most link shortening tools provide data that is important to your business. Utilize them to optimize your social media marketing, influencer outreach, paid advertising, and content marketing campaigns and grow your business.
  • Retarget people who clicked your hyperlinks and buttons.
  • Track conversions across your funnels: Some of these link shortening apps allow you to track conversions via pixel and/or S2S tracking.
  • Prevent sending the referrer data to the destination website: One of the biggest reasons you might want to short URLs (mostly through the Javascript redirect method) is that you do not like to send the referrer data to not only protect the privacy but also prevent others particularly merchants from stealing the information of where you bought the traffic from.
  • Rotate traffic to different pages to split test your funnels.

One of the major factors, why I use a custom domain URL shortener, is that I can manage all of my links in one place. For instance, I vlog on YouTube, write articles on WordPress blog, Tumblr, Medium, send emails to my lists, and share posts on social media. I would like to have a single place where I can edit the destination page address easily so that all of those link clicks will be redirected accordingly.

For instance, ManageFlittr which was one of the best Twitter tools a while ago was unable to provide services as usual because Twitter limited some features of API. So, all my affiliate links were useless. Since I have already shortened affiliate URLs instead of using naked affiliate links, I was able to edit the destination page and replace those links very easily.

Best Google URL Shortner Alternatives

The Google URL Shortener was very popular at one time in history and many people used it not just because the domain (goo.gl) was a high-authority one but also offered high limits for consumers.

However, the Google URL shortener is dead and now is replaced by Firebase Dynamic Links (FDL). However, it’s used for mobile app development not for making an URL short.

So, the best URL shorteners I shared above can be considered as alternatives to the Google URL shortening tool that is no longer available.

Here are two websites to create new short links without registration.

  • TinyURL.com – One of the most out-dated best URL shorteners out there with a simple dashboard. No link metrics are offered.
  • Bitly.com – One of the most popular link shortening services without registration.

Choosing the best URL shortener for you

Although there are numerous link shortening tools, it’s important to understand that not all are the same.

While some tools are focused on consumers, several provide features relevant to businesspeople.

If you are looking for a tool to manage the links of your advertising campaigns, I recommend Bl.ink as it currently offers features such as traffic routing and link rotator.

However, if you want to create a custom audience on your Facebook, Google Ads, and other ad networks, I recommend Replug. Furthermore, Replug allows you to display custom widgets such as opt-in forms and Chat widgets by using third-party tools such as Convertful and Gist on the web pages you share.

But, if you want something free that can help you get started, I recommend Bl.ink again! Its free plan is very generous and it allows one custom domain.

Conclusion on Best URL Shorteners

You are working hard on your online business because you want more traffic.

If you do not have a traffic management platform in your hand (i.e: link shortening and analytics tool), you are missing something big!

Shortening links are very helpful in many different levels of your business. No matter if you run a small business or a big company, tracking your links and traffic flow will certainly help.

Whether you are looking for a powerful tool with advanced features, a free URL shortener, or an alternative to the Google URL shortener, you will find something in this list of best URL shorteners.

Let us know what your best link shortening tool is in the comments below.

best url shorteners

About the author 

Chamal Rathnayaka

A blogger, Growth Hacker, and Internet Marketer since 2012. Chamal Rathnayaka is the founder of this very site and he's sharing his experience and knowledge on Internet marketing through Pitiya blog. Send him a message on Pitiya.com/contact.

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