Link Shortener: Shorten, Track and Customize URLs

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Get started is a popular link shortening service owned and operated by Google. It allows users to shorten long and unwieldy URLs into short, memorable links that redirect to the original page.

What is is a URL shortening service that was launched in 2009. It is owned by tech giant Google and is integrated across many of Google's products and services.

At its core, takes long URLs and converts them into shorter, more usable links. For example, it can take a long URL like:

And shorten it to:

The shortened URL redirects to the original long URL and works exactly the same. However, it is much shorter and easier to type, share, tweet and use in various contexts. uses a domain name shortener technique to generate shortened URLs. Each shortened link is unique, even if two long URLs are identical. This allows the service to provide handy analytics and track individual URLs.

While services like Bitly pioneered the URL shortener space, leveraged Google's powerful infrastructure to scale up the concept and make it mainstream. Today, over 5 billion URLs are shortened via every month.

How does work? works by taking a long URL, running it through a hash algorithm and generating a unique short alphanumeric code. This code forms the final part of the shortened URL.

For example, when you enter the long URL: takes this URL and runs it through its hashing algorithm, generating a code like iwpSki. It then appends this code to the base domain to generate the shortened URL:

When a user clicks on the shortened link, it redirects the browser to the original long URL, taking them to the correct destination.

Behind the scenes, stores a database mapping of all the generated shortened codes to their corresponding original URLs. This allows each shortened link to redirect properly.

Advanced use cases of involve customizing shortened URLs and collecting analytics. The service provides developers an API to customize and integrate shortened links into applications.

Why use

There are many benefits to using the URL shortening service:

Shortening long links - Makes unwieldy URLs with multiple query parameters easier to type and share.

Saving characters - Ideal for sharing links on character-limited platforms like Twitter.

Obfuscating URLs - The shortened URL hides the original domain name for privacy.

Click analytics - provides statistics on how many clicks a shortened link received.

Customization - Users can customize shortened URLs for better branding.

Easier to dictate - Short codes are easier to say out loud than long URLs.

Tracking individual links - The hash IDs allow tracking specific URLs in a campaign.

Integrations - provides developers an API to integrate into applications.

For individual users, marketers, social media influencers and tech startups alike, makes sharing and working with links much more convenient. The analytics are an added bonus on top of the basic URL shortening functionality.

Benefits of Using URL shortener provides a myriad of benefits beyond just shortening long links. Some of the key advantages of using include:

Shortening URLs

The primary purpose of is to shorten cumbersome URLs into small, usable links. For example:

Long URL: short URL:

The shortened link is clean and easy to share on social media, emails, text messages or anywhere else. links can be up to 63 characters long, as opposed to the original URL which may have no length limit. This makes it perfect for sharing on Twitter where the limit is 280 characters per tweet.

Content creators, marketers, and businesses can use to create cleaner links when sharing their content across different platforms and contexts.

Tracking Clicks provides users basic analytics about their shortened URLs. Every shortened link has its own identifiable hash ID. This allows to track vital stats like:

  • Number of clicks
  • Location of clicks
  • Source websites driving clicks
  • Top click hours and days

Marketers can leverage these analytics to track the performance of specific campaigns, shares, etc. that use links.

The click tracking and link-level analytics sets apart from earlier services like TinyURL that focused solely on shortening links.

Analytics and Insights analytics provide valuable insights beyond just click counters. Users can view charts and graphs that analyze trends like:

  • Click traffic over time
  • Traffic sources driving clicks
  • Geographical distribution of clicks
  • Click counts by platform like mobile vs desktop
  • Top referrers and pages driving click traffic

These insights can help identify which platforms are driving the most clicks and which parts of the world the link is popular in. Users can then optimize their content and sharing strategy accordingly. analytics integrate directly with Google Analytics for websites. This allows webmasters to segment and filter traffic from specific links.

The ability to "deep link" into Google Analytics is a powerful feature for marketers using links for specific campaigns and content assets.

How to Use

Using is very simple and does not require signing up or creating an account. Let's go through the key steps to shorten, customize and share links with

Creating a Shortened URL

To shorten a long URL:

Go to the URL Shortener site.

Paste the original long URL into the input field.

Click "Shorten URL".

This will generate a shorter URL that redirects to the original URL.

For example, shortening:


The link can now be shared anywhere. When clicked, it will redirect to the original URL.

Customizing URLs

By default, short URLs contain randomly generated hash IDs. However, users can customize this ID substring to create more "branded" or memorable links.

To customize a link:

Click the dropdown arrow next to the generated short URL.

Select "Custom" from the dropdown menu.

Edit the ID portion with a custom name, brand name, etc.

For example, instead of:

You could customize it to:

This makes the link more memorable and on-brand, especially for marketing campaigns.

Sharing and Using Shortened URLs

Once shortened, links can be shared anywhere - social posts, messaging apps, emails, documents and more.

Some ways to effectively use shortened links:

Share on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram posts to save characters.

Use in email newsletters and email signatures.

Print on business cards and marketing material.

Embed in documents like Google Docs, Slides and PDFs.

Share across messaging apps like WhatsApp.

Redirect from a custom domain using the API. links are versatile and make sharing long URLs much easier across contexts. The click analytics provide added transparency into how links are being accessed.

Alternatives to

While is the most widely used URL shortener today, there are some alternatives users can consider: was an experimental short link service also launched by Google. It used the domain instead of provide basic shortening capabilities and advanced analytical features, including IP logging. The was discontinued in favor of focusing on


Bitly is one of the earliest and most popular alternative shorteners. It offers many similar features as like custom shortened URLs and link analytics.

Bitly also provides a full-fledged link management platform optimized for social media marketing. Users can organize, track and manage multiple links from a single dashboard.

However, Bitly lacks the deep integration with Google's products and services that provides.

Firebase Dynamic Links are a powerful alternative by Google itself. They provide advanced deep linking capabilities for mobile apps beyond basic short URLs.

Dynamic Links can direct users to a specific in-app location rather than just the app homepage. This improves user experience.

The downside is Dynamic Links have a larger technical learning curve and are meant for app developers.

Here are a few key things to know about Firebase Dynamic Links:

Dynamic Links are smart URLs that allow you to send users to any location within your iOS, Android, or web app. They can work across different platforms.

They provide powerful analytics like view attribution, utm parameters, and customizable domains.

Dynamic Links work by creating a long stable link that redirects to the desired content. This link can contain encoded parameters.

When a user opens a Dynamic Link, the Firebase SDK handles the link redirection and retrieves any data encoded in the link.

Some common uses are for sharing content, user invites/referrals, app install attribution, and deep linking into app content.

Dynamic Links work with iOS Universal Links and Android App Links to open your app instead of the web if installed. You can specify fallback URLs if the app isn't installed.

You can customize link behavior for different platforms, pass data to Analytics, and create short memorable links with custom domains.

Overall, Dynamic Links provide a flexible, powerful way to send users to the right location in your app and track performance. They integrate tightly with Firebase for analytics and conversions.


TinyURL is one of the original link shorteners that inspired many services like It simply shortens links and does not offer advanced features.

TinyURL may be an option for basic personal link shortening needs. But for marketers and power users, provides much deeper analytics.

Advanced Features of

Beyond just shortening links, comes packed with advanced features for marketers, developers and businesses:

QR Codes

Users can generate a QR code version of any shortened link. This allows them to share the link in contexts where scanning a code is easier than typing a URL.

QR codes are commonly used in print marketing material, product packaging, and even digital advertising screens.'s integration allows users to encode long URLs into scannable QR codes with ease.

API Integration provides a robust API for developers to integrate URL shortening into applications. There are APIs available for various programming languages like:

  • Java
  • Python
  • Node.js
  • .Net
  • Ruby
  • PHP

Developers can build custom shorteners, create links on the fly, collect click analytics, and manage links all using APIs.

This makes it easy to bake URL shortening capabilities right into any website or app.

For power users sharing many links, provides tools to organize and manage shortened URLs effectively.

Users can group links into domains or organize them under folders. This keeps large collections of shortened links easy to access and manage over time.

Advanced users can also leverage the API to programmatically create, delete or update collections of links using scripts. This automates link management for complex use cases. for Businesses

URL shortening with has many business applications across marketing, branding, analytics and more:

Marketing and Advertising is invaluable for marketers who need to share links across many platforms like social media, ads, emails, and landing pages.

Shortened links are more trackable and save precious characters in contexts like tweets and Facebook posts. Customizable URLs also lend well to branded marketing campaigns.

Marketers can leverage click analytics to compare performance across different platforms and fine tune strategies.

Social Media

Social media marketing heavily involves sharing content and links. integrated seamlessly across all major platforms like:

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Marketers can create trackable links to optimize social campaigns and measure their ROI accurately.

Branding and Customization

URLs containing a brand name or slogan can increase engagement versus random IDs. lets users customize shortened URLs for free.

For example, a smartphone launch could use:

This builds brand awareness and makes links more memorable. for Personal Use

Beyond business applications, regular internet users can benefit from in many ways: makes sharing product links, news articles, recipes, YouTube videos and more much easier with friends and family.

Shortened links easily fit messaging apps like WhatsApp where they can be tapped to open instantly.

Organizing Bookmarks

Many bookmarking apps integrate with to shorten saved URLs automatically. This keeps bookmark libraries clean and decluttered.

Tracking Clicks on Personal Websites or Blogs

Bloggers and small website owners can use to manage and track external links they share. The click analytics provide insight into which links resonate most with readers.

Conclusion stands out as the most widely used link shortener thanks to its ease of use, powerfully accurate analytics, deep integration with Google's ecosystem, and advanced capabilities via APIs.

Recap of Benefits and Features

Key highlights covered in this guide:

Shortens long unwieldy URLs for easy sharing

Provides click analytics for tracking links

Customizable URLs for branding and memorability

Integrates across social media and Google products

Advanced capabilities like QR codes and APIs

Free to use without any registration

Final Thoughts on

For both power users and regular internet users alike, takes the pain out of sharing long links. The service has evolved far beyond just shortening URLs to offer detailed analytics, customization and automation features.

While competitors exist, none match the seamless integration provides with Google's ecosystem. It has firmly established itself as the go-to link shortener for individuals, marketers and developers alike.