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URL shortening services have become more and more common as websites achieve record-breaking URL lengths for individual pages. (Luckily, this site is very simple but imagine if they had a database driven site with lengthy URLs for each page?! http://www.llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwyll-llantysiliogogogoch.com/)

So, why would you use a URL shortener? Well, there are multiple reasons.

  • Easy to remember, to share and to spell
  • Don’t break or wrap in emails
  • Fit in text messages, tweets, and status updates

Here are a list of some of those we have found whilst updating our list this week.

However, be warned. There have been many over the last few years but it seems they all struggle to survive as we have found more dead than alive! If you are posting your shortened URL to places where you are relying on it to still work in a few years time, think twice. It may be better to have the full URL with an OPTIONAL shorter link just in case the service folds.

  • bit.ly – offers you tracking as well as an account that allows you to archive all of your shortened URLS
  • snipurl.com – one of the best as it allows you to make multiple URLS in one go, you can choose from snipurl, snurl and snipr, and you can create multiple shortened URLs to the same page for tracking purposes.
  • tinyurl.com – allows previews which gives confidence that there is not a spam link behind the short URL and also has a browser bookmarklet so you can shorten URLs with one click
  • urlcover.com – offers customisable URLs, an API so you can integrate it with your website, and allows you to enter multiple URLS in one hit
  • 4url.cc – allows you to add a preview feature which is great to convince people your link is clean and non-spammy
  • shrinklink.co.uk which also allows you to track visits to your link
  • ilix.in – a new service that masks the original URL eg for affiliate links etc. It also offers to pay you per view for your link at a rate of approx $1 per 1000 views. There have to be some doubts about the validity of this business plan (even Microsoft have recently binned their Bing cashback scheme for shoppers), but time will tell.

Whichever service you use, remember to keep track of your links so that you know which points where!

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About the author:

A practising internet marketing consultant since 1996, Lindsey Annison helps companies improve their website marketing, online PR and information architecture. Lindsey is also a qualified adult education lecturer and author. As co-founder of the Access to Broadband Campaign, she has been instrumental in the provision of high-speed internet access to rural areas in the UK. Lindsey is also a past winner of Silicon.com's Outstanding Contribution to UK Technology