Since the Google URL Shortener was shut down a few years ago (RIP), the internet has been trying to find the next best option. Of course, as with most things, there’s no one right answer: the best URL shortening service for you depends on what you need and want from one. There are simple, fast, and free URL shortening apps; marketing- and analytics- focused ones with dashboards and detailed metrics; and even options where you can add your own call-to-action over the link you share.
To help you find the best URL shortener services, we tested over 20 different options.
Here are best of our favorites.
Bitly is a full-service, business-grade URL shortener. If you only need to shorten the occasional link, you can use it without creating an account. Just paste your long URL into the box on the homepage, click Shorten, and be on your way.
But Bitly really stands out for its business offering. Part of the appeal is that Bitly is so simple and easy to use. It has a comprehensive dashboard where you can track over 20 real-time data points, including the location of your visitors, organic shares, and more. Tools for tracking campaigns are easy to use as well.
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.
While Rebrandly is a great URL shortener like all the other apps on our list, its appeal is unique. 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. Their free plan offers five custom domains, the most of any app we considered, so you can customize the whole short URL, and not just the last half of it.
Rebrandly includes tools for tracking the popularity of each link, data about who is clicking on them, and automatic QR code generation, too. On the free plan, you’re limited to 500 total branded links and 5,000 clicks tracked per month—but that’s plenty if you’re just starting out.
Free URL shortener TinyURL has been in the game since 2002, and for good reason. It’s a useful tool for when you’re in a hurry and need to create a short link that will never expire. Just paste your long link into the box, customize the second half of the URL, if you want, and click Make TinyURL! You can then use that link indefinitely without fear that it will stop working.
Most URL shorteners will happily tell you where people are clicking on your links and what devices they’re using, but Short.io goes one better: it enables you to target visitors in different locations or using different devices and send them to a different link. This is useful if you want to make sure iOS users and Android users see the right app download link, or that your American and Canadian customers see the right kind of dollars.