The Best Guide to URL Shortener: 4 Reasons Why You Should Include URL Shorteners In Your Marketing

Hero
Hero Published on November 11, 2021

Long and messy links are a common issue faced by many content sharers, proprietors, and online visitors. But it should not be this way. Use a URL shortener to make your links presentable and level up your marketing. 

You already might have encountered sharing lengthy links, which is pretty annoying. Not only are these links lengthy, but they are also messy and distracting. You might think that is just a simple problem, but it is not, especially if you share links as part of your marketing strategy. 

Long URLs can compromise your marketing strategy. These messy links can upstage your marketing plan. For instance, if you’re going to share your content on social media platforms that limit the number of characters in a post, like Twitter, using long links will eat up the entire post. And so, it leaves no space for more meaningful words you have to say.  Luckily, URL shorteners exist. 

URL shorteners allow you to make your messy links into a shorter and more presentable ones. With the benefits a URL shortener can offer businesses, utilizing this powerful tool is a must to include in your marketing strategy. It does not only help you beautify your links but can also help you level up your marketing through the features it has to offer. If you are new to short links, you’re in the perfect place. This article is your ultimate guide to the URL shortener and how to use it to step up your marketing. 

What is a URL Shortener?

Just to clarify, link shortener, URL compressor, link compressor, and many more are just the same thing. It is just that we have different ways to refer to the same thing. But in this case, we will use a URL shortener to refer to the tool that shortens a link. 

As the name suggests, a URL shortener is basically a tool to shorten long and messy URLs. Instead of sharing long and distracting links, you can use a URL shortener to make your links shorter yet more impactful and pleasing. 

What is a Custom URL Shortener?

Custom URL Shortener is a tool that allows you to shorten your links into whatever link you want them to be. The critical point of a custom URL is that it lets you brand the links you’re going to send out through customizations instead of generating generic and random URLs. It allows you to connect your domain to the service, which serves as the base of your shortened links. With a custom domain, you are practically branding all your links.

.For businesses, it is best to use a custom URL clipper that allows you to connect your own domain. This can help you increase the authority of your links, brand awareness, and click-through rates. 

History of URL Shortener

URLs are an essential component of the internet. It is the only way you can get from one place to another online. In fact, there’s no other way to get around. It is either you searched the link, clicked the shared link, or typed the link manually on your browser.

With the arrival of Twitter and other social media platforms that limit posts and messages to a certain number of characters, the typical long and messy links became a problem. For instance, if you want to share something on the web through these platforms, the long URLs will eat up the entire post.  This was when a URL shortener became a necessity.

With a URL shortener, you can save so many character counts that you can use to say whatever you want. 

However, nowadays, Twitter counts URLs as up to 23 characters only. So if your link contains more than 23 characters, Twitter will only regard it as 23 characters. Hence, URL shorteners are now less needed compared to how necessary they were before. So, what URL shortener has to offer now?

What URL Shortener Has To Offer?

link tracking

URL Shortener had come a long way since its invention back in 2000. New helpful features have been introduced to many URL shorteners as time goes by. Here are some of what URL shortener has to offer. 

Link Masking

Shortening a link also allows you to mask or hide the original web address. 

Masking links used to be an opportunity for spammers and hackers to hide malicious links from web users. Thanks to the security protection features of search engines like Chrome and Bing, web searchers no longer have to worry about being hacked or invaded by spammers. 

Besides link masking allowing you to hide the web address of a link through shorter masked links, it is also beneficial for the following reasons: 

  1. Hides affiliate links 
  2. Shorten long domain
  3. Tracks the engagement of a specific link

Link Shortening

Of course, it still serves its original purpose. Link shorteners shorten links effectively. Allows you to change the URL of a web page but still redirect the users to the same landing page. 

Whenever you’re sharing a link, it is best to use a URL shortener. It makes the link more presentable and easy to follow by the viewers. In addition, it is much easier to verbally share a shorter link compared to a longer, more complex one. 

Another way to shorten a link is through customization and branding. This process allows you to use your brand as the domain. For example, if your niche is about agriculture, you can customize your domain to match your brand, like “ag.ri”. This process will help you brand the links that you’re going to share. Link customization also allows you to share shorter links but can still relay the same idea as the original link. 

Link Tracking

Besides allowing you to share prettier links, a URL shortener also gives you the capability to track the engagement you’ll get through a specific link. 

A tracking link (also known as link tracking) is a type of link that keeps track of who clicked it, when they clicked it, and from where they clicked it. Tracking links are necessary for evaluating the effectiveness of marketing campaigns.

When a user clicks on a tracking link, the user's connection is initially routed through a tracking service (such as Hero.link). Before forwarding the user's browser to the specified location, this captures information about the click (such as the user's location, device, and time).

Link Retargeting

When a pixel is installed on a website, it monitors visitors and allows advertisers to retarget them with adverts across several platforms. This is ideal for guiding consumers through the many steps of the buying process and convincing them to convert, and it's quite inexpensive.

The use of a tracking pixel on our site or in our content is not required with link retargeting. Instead, a redirect is used. It basically links the retargeting pixel to the shared URL, allowing us to share whatever link we desire.

Link retargeting is similar to typical ad retargeting in terms of functionality. Instead of sending them to your website, you may show them retargeted adverts depending on their clicked link. It doesn't have to be a link to your website.

Link retargeting allows you to go even farther with your content, social, and email marketing.

Link Rotation

Link rotation allows you to point a single link to various URL destinations. In reality, this implies that clicking on a rotational link will send you to one of the selected target sites at random.

Commonly, link rotation is used in split testing. Users can be redirected to various versions of a landing page by using a rotating link. Then you can assess each page's effectiveness in terms of conversions and leads produced, determining which is the most successful.

While this is the most common use for link rotation, it is not the only one. In reality, there are several advantages to using link rotation, including landing page optimization. 

Link Swapping or Changing

Link changing or swapping is a link-building method in which one page links another page in return for that page doing the same for the first page. It allows you to enhance your first page's ranking, given that search engines, such as Google, consider incoming links as a significant factor in ranking websites. 

For reciprocal links to be effective, they must be placed in a prominent location, such as the main page, and the websites must be related to the topic, among other things. It's also crucial that the originating website has more authority and that the connections are gradually added. However, other experts believe that the technique's usefulness is waning.

4 Reasons Why Your Business’ needs URL Shortener?

URL shorteners

Many proprietors regard URL shortener as just a tool to shorten a long link. However, it is more than that. It can offer you and your business many benefits. Here are 4 of the best reasons you should start using URL shortener as part of your marketing. 

It improves social media and email deliverability.

Advertising through social media and email is a meaningful marketing technique. Shortening URLs makes these marketing techniques more effective and efficient.

Because it is branded, precise, and personalized, a short URL engages people. People immediately know the brand and get a sense of the link's content. URLs like "sport.link/sports-wear" will almost certainly succeed in capturing the attention of the target demographic.

short URL

Short branded links are more worthy of sharing on social media. Creating social media posts with short links, adding a short branded link to an account description, sending a private message with a short link, and beginning an advertising campaign with a short link are all examples of how you can leverage short links. 

Creating and using short branded links in email marketing is best to avoid emails ending in the spam bin. Spammers usually target generic domains, which is why email systems overlook emails with malicious domains or IP addresses.

It helps secure crucial data.

Short links allow you to hide information on long URLs that you don't want others to see. It might be an affiliate link that pays you a commission or a link with Urchin Tracking Module (UTM) tags that allows you to track visitor activity.

The function of URL masking is beneficial for link builders, but it may be strange for visitors, as most spammers employ disguised links. Branded domains can in helpful in this situation. They boost a brand's confidence and trust by sharing veiled URLs.

It helps you track statistics of short links to improve the marketing strategy.

It's easier to trace short links than it is to track long and complicated URLs. A URL shortener usually has a built-in capability for tracking short links, so there are no additional procedures to do. The number of clicks, the date/time, the location, the most popular links, and the operating system utilized are all included in short link statistics. Integrations with analytical services are available for those that want even more precise information.

It allows you to retarget links to drive customers back. 

Short link retargeting was founded on a single action: visiting a short link. When a person hits a short link and subsequently leaves a website without taking favorable action, they will be confronted with adverts that display the previously visited short link. It comes in handy when you need to get people to return to your website. The users' browsers load a JS snippet from AdRoll/Facebook every time they click a link.

How to Find the Best URL Shortener?

There are a lot of URL  shorteners existing on the web, but not all of them can help you level up your marketing strategy. Here are some features that you should look for when selecting the best URL shortener for you. 

Customization and Branding

custom and branded link

It is crucial to know whether the tool also offers customization when looking for a URL shortener to utilize. If your shortened links are customized and branded, they are easier to remember and more presentable to the public. Branded links tend to look more credible and can generate more clicks. In addition, it also helps you gain the trust of your viewers. 

In addition, customizing links also allows you to generate a shorter link but is not misleading. You can still have a new link that suggests where the clicker will be redirected to. You can also customize your link into something easier to remember and easily shared, even verbally. 

The bottom line is, if you can customize and brand your links, the possibility is almost endless. 

Link Tracking

Your link-shortening solution should also include link tracking features. Since a click indicates that someone is interested in your product or content, tracking the links is an essential marketing tactic. Your business needs to determine if sales are driven by social media, email, mobile, print, or display marketing.

A good URL shortener provides a simple, intuitive approach to assess how your links are doing on a per-link basis as well as in aggregate.

Being aware of this information can significantly help you in the step you will take to make your marketing strategy better and more effective. In addition, it also helps you have a more precise knowledge of whom to target and where you can typically find them. 

SEO-Friendly

Your URL shortener should not compromise your SEO. One crucial element to consider when choosing a link shortener is if the short links you generate would harm your website's organic search efforts. Some redirection might cause your website's domain authority to drop, resulting in a loss of organic search traffic. This may be highly harmful to your website's visitors and company.

Choose a URL shortener that links are 301 redirects (signals a permanent redirect from one URL to another) that do not harm your website’s SEO. 

Safe & Secure

safe link shortener

HTTPS connections help make the browsing experience more secure by preventing eavesdropping or tampering by third parties. Your URL shortener should support HTTPS and other advanced security settings to support corporate or government-mandated security policies — including HSTS support, TLS version restrictions, and strict SSL Ciphers.

In addition, ensure that there are steps to prevent bad actors from misusing your link shortener platform. Choose a platform that works with trusted tech partners to monitor and block abuse and spam, and encourage the public to report suspicious links.

Frequently Asked Questions

 Here are some of the frequently asked questions regarding URL shorteners.

Is it safe to use a URL shortener?

URL shorteners are, in fact, safe. On the other hand, short URLs pose specific security problems because they are susceptible to brute force attacks, and hackers can guess several shortened URLs. Furthermore, because visitors to the abbreviated URL do not know where they will be sent when they click it, they must trust the sender of the URL. Shortened URLs are banned at network gateways in some businesses.

For businesses, it is best to utilize a URL shortener tool that offers branded links options. Visitors trust branded links more. Compared to generic short links, branded links can also generate way more clicks and engagement. Most importantly, branding your links is an excellent way to increase your website’s authority and brand awareness.

How does a URL shortener work?

A URL shortener is a service that creates a unique short URL, generally approximately ten characters long, that is mapped to a more extensive URL and connects to the exact location. The data is usually saved in key-value pairs in a table or hash map, with the keys being the short URL and the values being the original, more extensive URL.

For instance, you used Hero.link to shorten your link. The tool will generate a random unique code that includes numbers and letters for the link. The generated code will be added to the domain name (for uncustomized and unbranded links) to create a short URL like “hero.link/a1b2c3d4. Then, the primary URL will be mapped to the short URL in the database.

Anyone clicking the short URL will now be redirected to the same landing page as the long URL it is mapped to.

Since there is a large number of potential alphanumeric codes, short URLs are always unique. In the unlikely event of a collision, the service will typically create a new code until it discovers a link that is not yet used.

Is short URL case sensitive?

Typically, generic short URLs are case-sensitive. For example, if the short link characters are in lowercase like this “short.url/a1b2c3d4”, typing the link using a different case will not redirect you to the same landing page most probably, will not work.

However, some URL shortener sites generate customized and branded links that are not case sensitive, such as Hero.link. In such cases, the generated link is easier to type manually. For instance, if the actual link is “short.url/a1b2c3d4,” and you typed it as “SHIRT.URL/A1B2C3D4”, the link will still redirect you to the same landing page.

Can I shorten my URL for free?

Of course. There are a lot of free URL shortener websites out there. However, the generated short links are generic and contain alphanumeric codes attached after the domain’s name. Since the generated URL is random, it could still look messy and, of course, hard to remember. In addition, it could generate fewer clicks due to the audience’s prejudice towards generic and unbranded links since generic links look suspicious.

This is why we recommend businesses to use customized and branded links. These links are more trustworthy and are a powerful tool to increase brand awareness. Most importantly, they are very effective in generating links and are easier to track. URL shorteners, such as Hero.link, offer a cost-effective yet premium URL shortening plan that includes features that can level up your marketing strategy.

How long does a short URL last?

Generally speaking, short URLs do not have an expiration time. However, there are short links that are limited by the number of clicks it can generate. Mind you that this click limit could be on a monthly, yearly, or lifetime basis. It is best to choose a URL shortener that uses monthly click limits, such as Hero.link, since the number of generated clicks is refreshed every month.

There are also unlimited premium link shortener offers that allow you to generate unlimited clicks. It will be beneficial for businesses that have indefinite numbers of clicks per shared post.

Can I customize my short URL

Of course. In fact, we recommended businesses customize and brand their short links. The links look better and can convey the same idea as the longer links. In addition, customized links are easier to remember since you can opt to use keywords as your URL code.

Here are some of the reasons why you should opt to customize your short links:
They gain more trust from the public
They are easier to remember
They look credible
They can generate more clicks
They can increase brand awareness

Does URL Shortener help me get more clicks?

Indeed. Besides shortening your links, a URL shortener also makes your generated links more presentable. Long and messy links are distracting and can upstage your marketing plan. But with a shorter link, rest assured that your target audience will not be distracted by these long and messy links.

In addition, branded and customized short URLs also have the capability to inform your target audience of what the link is about and where they will be redirected to, which helps build trust between your site and the audience. So, the next time they will encounter the same type of link, they are most likely to regard it as trustworthy and credible.

What are branded links?

Branded links are a more premium type of customized short links. It allows you to use your chosen brand name as the domain of your short URL. For instance, instead of using “hero.link” domain, you can customize it to match your brand like “sports.co”. It is an excellent opportunity for many proprietors to upgrade their marketing strategy since brand recognition is one of the most crucial factors to customer loyalty.

Some of the most well-known sites that use branded links are Starbuck (sbux.co), New York Times (nyti.ms), Walt Disney (di.sn), and more.

Besides customizing your links, branding your short URLs can also offer you the following benefits.

Increased brand awareness
Increased brand visibility
Descriptive, easy to pronounce, and memorable.
Perfect for offline promotions
Increased trust among the target audience
Increased click-through rates

Are short links SEO-friendly?

It depends on the type of redirection the short link uses. Redirection is the process of forwarding one URL to a different URL. There are different types type of redirects. But, 301, 302, and Meta Refresh are the most used link redirects by short links. While 301 redirect can pose no harm to your website’s SEO, the other two do.

So in choosing the URL shortener service, it is crucial to know if the service uses 301 redirections. As a website owner, you should also pay close attention to your site’s SEO, as it immensely affects your search engine visibility and ranking. Some URL shortener services known to use 301 redirects are Bitly, hero.link, and Rebrandly.

What’s the difference between a URL compressor and a URL shortener?

Nothing. URL Compressor and URL shortener are both referring to the same thing. It’s just that people use different names or aliases for the same thing. URL compressor and URL shortener both refer to the tool to shorten or customize your long and distracting links. Other common names for URL shorteners are link shortener, link cutter, URL cutter, URL clipper, and more.

The Bottomline

For many businesses, sharing their website’s content through social media is a powerful promotional tactic. And undoubtedly, it is. Especially for new businesses, sharing their content through social media is their primary source of visitors. And so, the link you will share should not get in the way of your marketing success. However, knowing that links are typically long and messy, it can and it will. And so, using a tool that can help you make your links shorter and presentable is beneficial. 

Due to misleading information about URL shorteners, many proprietors are hesitant to include this powerful tool in their marketing tactics. Many believe that shortening links have an adverse impact on their website’s SEO and search engine rankings. Yes, it can happen, but it does not apply to all URL shortener services. A lot of URL shorteners understand that SEO is an essential aspect of a website’s prominence; that’s why they are using an SEO-friendly method of shortening your links. 

In addition to the misconceptions regarding URL shorteners, many proprietors are also not aware of how powerful URL shorteners can be in marketing. Most people think that URL shorteners are just a tool to shorten long links, which is an understatement considering what a URL shortener offers. It can provide you with beneficial insights regarding your target audience and offer you the capability to retarget them. And in fact, short URLs are already powerful and beneficial by themselves. 

So, if you need to share an online page, but are annoyed by its messy links, do not hesitate to use Hero.link. We are glad to resolve your long and messy link issue. We can give you more straightforward, shorter, and more presentable links to redirect your target audience to the same landing page. If you need an upgrade in your marketing, we are always ready to assist you. We offer additional features and services that can sure step up your marketing game. Feel free to reach to us. We are glad to team up with you!

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