Free Custom URL Shorteners: Are They Worth Using? Full Analysis
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Free custom URL shorteners are hard to come by as most tools require you to pay before you can connect a custom domain.
If you do find a free custom URL shortener, there’s a high chance it may be lacking in other features that you may also need.
In this post, we will assess whether or not free custom URL shorteners are worth it and whether or not you should opt for paid alternatives.
In this post, we will shed light upon:
- What a custom URL shortener is
- Free custom URL shorteners and how they work
- The benefits of a custom URL shortener and why you need one
- How much you should typically pay for a paid custom URL shortener tool
So without further ado, let’s get started.
What’s a Custom URL Shortener?
A Custom URL shortener is a shortener that allows you to tinker with the shortened URL you receive and customize it in any way you want. For the first part of the link to be what you want, you must connect a domain or subdomain to the URL shortener tool.
Naturally, this domain or subdomain will represent your brand and will usually be your brand’s name or some abbreviation of it. Thus, when you connect it to the URL shortener tool, it will provide you with a shortened URL that contains your connected domain or subdomain.
That’s the first part of your shortened link.
As for the second part, you’re free to customize it in any way you want. Most brands typically utilize this second part to communicate to the reader what the web page is about.
For example, if the shortened link leads to a landing page that’s about your newest product. The second part of the link can simply be the name of that product.
Can I Use a Free Custom URL Shortener?
Yes. There are many free custom URL shorteners available online that you can search for and try out. However, it should be noted that free services typically come with a lot of restrictions.
If you want to use a custom URL shortener, there’s a high chance that you’re a brand or a person that wants to promote themselves online.
In this case, you’ll need other features from your URL shortener as well, such as tracking, analytics, retargeting, and more.
A free custom URL shortener might be able to provide you with a custom shortened link but it may not be able to provide you with everything else you need.
Thus, when you opt for free custom URL shortening, it’s extremely important that you look through the set of features thoroughly.
Will you get everything that you need from the free URL shortener to engage your audience and set up effective marketing campaigns?
This is the question you must ask yourself before you use a free custom URL shortener to create branded links.
Do I Really Need a Custom URL Shortener?
If you want to shorten a URL simply for personal use or for use within your employees, you can get away with using a generic URL shortener. These types of URL shorteners are usually free and have the URL shortener tool’s branding rather than your own.
This doesn’t really matter since you’re using it for your own personal purposes.
However, if you’re a brand or any entity that wants to engage an audience and introduce them to your products, services or content, then you need a URL shortener.
Well, because as a brand, every part of your content and your pitch should include your brand image and identity. Your shortened links are not exempt from this. This is especially true if you intend to share them on social media or any other digital space.
When your shortened links represent your brand as well, this leads to much better brand cohesion and, thus, better brand recognition.
How Much Should I Pay for a Custom URL Shortener?
So we’ve concluded that while free custom URL shorteners exist, they typically lack all the features that a brand needs to grow. That’s why you’re better off with a paid URL shortener which will most likely have everything you need.
However, it’s important to note that most URL shortener services have multiple plans to choose from.
To determine which plan is best for you, you must assess what your needs are and what the scale of your company is. Only then will you be able to use them effectively to drive web traffic to your website.
Most URL shorteners have a “popular” or “basic” plan that is usually their most opted-for plan by its user base.
Usually, this plan has everything that most mid-level brands require to generate branded links and track performance effectively.
In most cases, most URL shortener tools typically charge between $15 to $30 per month for these basic plans.
Hence, that’s the amount you should expect to pay if you want a URL shortener to boost the relevance and awareness of your brand.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is a Branded URL Shortener?
A branded URL shortener is the same as a custom URL shortener. It allows you to connect a custom domain or subdomain that represents your brand.
Then, you can use that custom domain or subdomain to create branded links that you can use within your marketing content.
What is a Vanity URL?
A vanity URL is just another name for a custom or branded shortened URL. It’s called a vanity URL since it represents the identity of your brand.
How do Custom URL Shorteners Work?
Custom URL shorteners work by allowing you to connect a domain or subdomain that represents your brand. Once it’s connected, the shortened links that are generated use the domain or subdomain that you connected with the URL shortener.
The working of the shortened URL itself is the same as a generic URL shortener. This means that the shortened URL is a redirect link that leads to the original destination URL.
Should I Use a Free Custom URL Shortener?
You can definitely use a free custom URL shortener if you’re just starting your brand and don’t have the budget to allocate funds to a paid URL shortener plan.
However, you should be aware that you may not be able to reap all the benefits that a paid URL shortener has to offer, such as tracking, analytics, retargeting and more.
Can I Add UTM Parameters to Shortened Links?
Yes. All you have to do is add the UTM parameters to the original destination URL and then shorten it.
You can then use the shortened link anywhere you’d like. The UTM parameters will work and you can track performance with Google Analytics.
Free custom URL shorteners are definitely available online, but they aren’t as good as they seem.
Sure, you might be able to get branded links for free, but those branded links won’t be trackable. You probably won’t be able to perform retargeting, deep linking or any other features that a brand requires for constant growth.
Hence, if you have no other choice, then go for a free option. Otherwise, it’s always better to opt for a paid URL shortener.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.