Link Shortener Services: All You Need to Know with FAQs
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If you’re a brand that wants to have neat links within its marketing content, you’ll need a link shortener service.
There are many different URL shorteners available online, but you must choose one that fulfills your brand’s particular needs.
This post aims to explore what link shortener services are and how you can assess your needs to choose the most suitable one for yourself.
In this post, we will shed light upon:
- What link shortener services are and how they work
- Whether or not you need a link shortener service
- The different types of link shortener services
- Other features you need in a link shortener tool
So without further ado, let’s get into it.
What is a Link Shortener Service and How Does it Work?
A link shortener service allows you to input a long URL and get a short URL in return.
This short URL is a redirect link that also leads to the same web page that the original input URL leads to. You can use this smaller link instead of the original URL since it’s neater and much easier to remember.
The concept behind how URL shorteners work is fairly simple to understand, even if you’re not very tech-savvy.
Most simplistic and free URL shorteners will only provide you with generic shortened links.
However, you can also opt for more sophisticated tools such as Pixelfy. With such tools, you’ll get additional features such as link tracking, analytics, mobile deep linking, link rotation and a whole lot more.
We’ll talk about these additional features and why they’re important for brands later on in the post.
Link Shorteners Have Many Names
Please note that link shorteners can be called a variety of different names on the internet. Here are some examples:
- URL shortener
- Link shrinker
- Link compressor
- URL compressor
- URL condenser
- Link condenser
If you see any of these terms, just know that they mean the same thing and refer to the link shortener services that we are talking about in this post.
Smaller Brands Fail to See the Potential of Link Shorteners
Large conglomerates with experienced marketing teams use URL shorteners regularly. On the other hand, we’ve noticed that they’re not as popular among smaller brand owners and other individuals who could benefit from them.
It’s unfortunate since these smaller brands have a lot to gain from link shorteners.
Studies have shown that the use of branded links can increase the click-through rate by up to 34%.
We’ll discuss what branded links are in the next section. Essentially, they are a type of shortened link.
What are Custom or Branded Link Shortener Services?
A custom or branded URL shortener works in almost exactly the same way as a regular URL shortener.
That’s because it also turns long, ugly links into smaller, manageable ones.
The difference is you also have control over what the shortened link will look like.
This is achieved by connecting a custom domain or subdomain to the link shortener service. Then, that domain or subdomain is utilized to generate the shortened links.
This can have many uses, such as branding, since the link can bear your brand’s name or an abbreviation that uniquely identifies it. That’ll be the first part of the link. The second part of the link is also free for you to customize.
Brands use the second part to communicate to the reader what the link will lead to.
For example, if a link leads to a new product that you just released, the branded link can look something like:
This will tell the user exactly who the link is from and where it leads to.
Branded URLs are much more effective than generic URLs, which is why successful brands use them all the time.
Some advantages include:
- Increased click-through rate
- Increased brand awareness
- Increased customer trust
Please note that branded URLs are also sometimes called vanity URLs.
You’ll often notice many custom URL shorteners out there market themselves as vanity URL shorteners.
You should always strive to ensure that your branded links give the user as much information about your brand as possible. You can communicate several aspects such as:
- Your brand name
- Your relevant industry or niche (e.g., news, media, sports, etc.)
- What the specific web page is about
Do I Need a Link Shortener Service?
As we briefly touched upon earlier, many enterprising individuals and brands don’t even consider link shorteners initially. Others don’t invest in them at all throughout their entrepreneurial journey.
As a result, you get marketing content with long and ugly URLs that you simply don’t want to click.
If you intend to market anything to an audience, you need a link shortener service.
Here are a few ways through which link shorteners can benefit your brand:
They Help Increase Brand Awareness and Recognition
When a URL shortener is utilized to create custom links, it can help with brand awareness. If you have branded links that look similar to each other and all of them represent your brand, it does wonders for better customer recognition.
When customers always see your brand’s name as part of the shortened links throughout all of your marketing content, it will stick in their minds.
Studies have proven that 82% of consumers choose brands they are familiar with when they shop online for particular products.
A stronger brand identity leads to better recognition which then results in increased sales and revenue.
Hence, if you intend to conduct email marketing campaigns, social media marketing campaigns or any other types of digital marketing campaigns, make sure you use branded links.
They Improve Consumer Trust
In addition to improving customer recognition, branded URLs also ensure that you establish trust and legitimacy among the target market as well. Long ugly URLs look seedy and can definitely place distrust in potential customers that come across them.
Such types of long URLs often get a lot fewer clicks because readers have no way to tell where that link will lead them. On the other hand, with branded links, you can customize them the way you want to ensure customers know exactly what they’ll be redirected to.
They Streamline the User’s Experience
This is fairly obvious, but shorter links are, of course, much easier to write, easier to read, and thus, easier to memorize.
In most cases, a person will simply click on your link so this won’t really have much of an impact.
However, if a user needs to type your URL for whatever reason, they won’t have a lot of trouble remembering it. This makes them especially useful if you’d like to include them in some sort of print advertising.
Shortened links have a much lower margin for error since they’re easier to remember.
If it were a long URL, many users would not even try to type it since it’d simply be too much work. Either that or they may type the long URL incorrectly and then give up. Hence, you’ll lose out on a significant amount of potential customers.
They Help With Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Another great thing about shortened URLs is the fact that they are great for search engine optimization by search engines such as Google.
You may come across several claims online that (wrongfully) state that link shortening can hurt your website’s SEO. In reality, the opposite is true, as has been confirmed by Google as well as other SEO experts such as Matt Cutts.
Hence, not only are shortened URLs good for you but they are also good for your website’s SEO and, thus, your overall online discoverability.
What Other Services Can They Provide Besides Link Shortening?
Contrary to popular belief, link shortener services are often used for a whole lot more than just link shortening. This is another reason why they’re so popular among brands: They offer tools that can be invaluable to them.
Some of these features are:
Custom URL shorteners allow you to adjust your shortened link in any way you want.
Hence, you can utilize this freedom to beautify your short links, have them represent your brand, and communicate a message to your readers.
For example, let’s say that you just launched a marketing campaign that you want to tell your audience about.
The short link for such a campaign could be something like [brandname].com/offer, where “[brandname]” denotes your brand name.
Hence, users will know exactly what the shortened link is.
You can also perform link rotation with a URL shortener.
This allows one short link to lead to different web pages or, maybe, two different versions of the same web page. Link rotators can have a number of uses but most brands mainly use them for A/B testing.
For example, if you don’t know what version of your landing page will work best with your target audience, you can set up a link rotator. This will cause your shortened link to lead 50% of clicks to version A and 50% of clicks to version B.
Then, you can measure the performance of both web pages in terms of conversions or any other metric that you feel would be appropriate.
Whichever version performs better can then be chosen as the one that you’ll use 100% of the time in the future.
Link Tracking and Analysis
Link tracking and analytics are important features that most brands value a lot in link shorteners after custom links.
Analytics has a variety of applications.
Firstly, you can use them to track the progress of your campaigns and make changes on the fly if you feel they’re not performing as expected.
Secondly, you can also use the customer data gathered from these analytics to create detailed customer personas and identify key target demographics.
This organized information can then be utilized to compose better and more well-targeted marketing campaigns in the future.
Lastly, you have retargeting pixels which are something that not all link shortener services provide their users with.
Retargeting pixels allow you to “tag” the visitors that click on your shortened links.
Once tagged, they can be served ads related to your brand at a later stage. Since they’ve already interacted with your brand in the past, they’ll have a much higher chance of interacting with the retargeted ad as well.
This can often lead to a conversion and thus, they can help you increase sales and revenue with ease.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How Do Link Shorteners Work?
Link shorteners work by taking an input URL which is typically fairly long. Then, a short URL is created which is a redirect link to the same input URL that you entered.
Since the short link also leads to the same web page, you can use that instead of the long URL.
Do I Need a Branded Link Shortener?
It depends on who you are. If you are an individual that does not want to market themselves and simply wants shorter URLs for ease of use, then you can get away with a generic link shortener.
However, if you want to use shortened URLs within marketing content, then a branded link shortener is essential.
What is a Vanity URL?
A vanity URL is simply another name for a custom URL or a branded URL.
What Does URL Stand For?
URL stands for Uniform Resource Locator.
Are Shortened Links Permanent?
Yes, shortened links are permanent by default when you create them with the help of a link shortener service.
However, some link shortener services do allow you to set expiration dates and times for the short links that you generate. This can sometimes be useful if you want them to become obsolete after a certain time, e.g., after the end of a particular marketing campaign.
There are many different link shortener services out there but it’s important to assess your needs and budget before you choose one.
Free link shorteners can be tempting but they often lack the features that a brand needs to truly understand its core audience and develop campaigns effectively.
When you’re considering a link shortener service, make sure that you go over the features that it provides and cross-check them with your requirements. Through this method, you’ll be able to identify the link shortener service that suits you best.
Do let us know about your experience in the comments section below.