The average web user knows of the bit.ly URL. Analytics, the need to save SMS or Twitter character count, link masking, and link tracking are some reasons such URL shorteners have become popular as web culture has progressed.
TinyURL first came on board and gained ground. Then, suddenly, it was Bitly that seemed to dominate webspace. As the years wore on, there have been many more options sprouting up.
Recent information sourced from real users shows that most of them seem to still be happy using Bitly. But for some reason, people may want the alternatives instead especially since its revamp.
Some users believe that Bitly has thrown simplicity out the window. What used to be a two-click solution to shorten and share links has become a complicated app with many unnecessary features.
If you belong to that school of thought, here is a list of 10 of the best Bitly alternatives in 2021.
This platform’s site tag line clarifies that ‘YOURLS’ stands for ‘Your Own URL Shortener’. It is so named because it is self-hosted. Being self-hosted means you can have far more control over your account and the links you create than you would on Bitly and other link shorteners.
You can even choose to make your YOURLS account private or public.
A private account is for you only to create and share links while a public account would allow other users to do so as well. With this, anyone can decide to start his own URL shortening service or, you can just choose to share with your team and friends.
Another area where YOURLS is to be considered a Bitly alternative is that it is not only fully free but also properly open-source. As a result, it is available for developers to access and contribute via GitHub and other open-source communities.
Again you can save and share links simultaneously on YOURLS unlike with Bitly.
Users particularly testify about Golinks.io‘s ease of use. An important part of this is Golinks.io’s predictive functionality. This helps users to forgo the need to remember individual links or rummage through bookmarks to find them.
Instead, you can just type in a keyword to get going. This way, you save a lot of time, energy, and resources.
Users also like the ease with which prospects can remember go/links. For instance, assuming you have a Google doc link to share, you can just shorten it to go/doc. This makes it super-easy for everyone on your team to remember.
Teams use go/links to assemble their work apps and cloud services on the dashboard. This makes for extra-ordinary ease of collaboration.
For instance, the links to Google Docs, Drive, and GitHub can respectively be rendered and remembered as go/doc, go/drive, and go/GitHub. With all these assembled on the Golinks.io dashboard, it would be easy for everyone to access.
Unlike what you have with Bitly, most of the unique features of Golinks.io are available for free. These include unlimited go/links and redirects, unlimited team members, unlimited edits, and email and chat supports.
However, to access very highly enterprise-grade features, you can go for any of the three paid plans that start from $199/user/month.
Apart from the usual stuff we know URL shorteners for, Rebrandly has far more features than the rest. As a considerable Bitly alternative, it virtually sports everything you need for link management and especially for link branding.
The most popular and unique feature of Rebrandly is probably that you can customize shortened URLs with your own second-level domain name.
For example, here is the link to Dav Pilkey’s website announcing one of his novels with the longest titles – ‘Captain Underpants And The Perilous Plot of Professor Poopypants’: https://pilkey.com/book/captain-underpants-and-the-perilous-plot-of-professor-poopypants-book-4.
Using Rebrandly, the novelist can turn the link to that page into its shorter version as https://pilkey.com/CaptUnderpants. This would be far more effective for branding than a generic second-level domain such as https://bit.ly/CaptainUnderpants.
Rebrandly is also unique for its ability to create UTM tags for tracking highly detailed metrics in your marketing campaigns. Thus, you can know the exact posts in a social media campaign that brings the most clicks.
With a UTM code, you can also go as detailed as knowing the exact keyword mostly being used by others and incorporate them for your PPC promotions.
Similarly, you can use this URL shortener for mobile deep linking. So far, this is not possible with Bitly and a host of other competitors. Mobile deep linking refers to your ability to link to specific locations within a mobile app rather than just launching its download page.
Another reason that makes Rebrandly a veritable Bitly alternative is that you can use it to add a re-targeting pixel to a shortened URL.
A retargeting pixel is a code that enables eCommerce websites to serve you ads that are tailored to your interest after you have made a purchase or checked out a listing on their site. But Rebrandly’s re-targeting pixels are attached to your shortened links rather than a page on your website.
This way, prospects don’t need to visit your site before you can target more ads at them. Instead, all they need is to click on your link anywhere such as a social media campaign or a PPC ad.
Another unique feature of Rebrandly is the ease with which you can update your targeted pages. Supposing you are targeting a set of 20 affiliate pages and your affiliate tracking ID has expired for many of them, you can easily swap them with new ones from your dashboard in minutes.
This means that you can use it to manage multiple domains at a time. Because of these features of Rebrandly and more, top brands like PayPal, Avon, Volvo, Opera, Heineken, and Shopify, are among their teeming customers.
Rebrandly’s free plan offers you the opportunity of having five custom domains, a maximum of 500 branded links, and up to 5000 clicks to be tracked monthly.
The first two plans cost $29 and $199 per month respectively, while you can get the third plan at a customized price when you request a quote.
BL.INK’s site tagline states they are “more than just a link shortener,”. Are they right in that description or just marketing? By our evaluation, they are right to a great extent.
This is because BL.INK comes with a huge dose of features that pertain to link management and branding.
And how do BL.INK and Bitly compare or contrast? Both tools share a good number of features and functionalities to start with. However, here, we are going to be talking only about their areas of difference, and especially where BL.INK is better.
One such area of difference is that BL.INK also provides domain registration services alongside the usual link shortening, branding, and management. In many respects also, BL.INK’s campaign management features have more comprehensive and integrated metrics reporting.
However, a more advanced dashboard for BL.INK means that it is a little more difficult to master than Bitly. Otherwise, both tools are fairly easy to set up and use.
For example, both of them only require a user account to use them. But, if a few more features on the BL.INK dashboard means more value but a little more difficulty in mastering it, BL.INK is certainly an excellent alternative to Bitly.
Some distinguishing BL.INK features include comprehensive link tracking and all-out campaign management. A good instance of this is that you can track the performance of your links across multiple platforms.
Users also can also brand their links. There is even room for users to add notes that apply to specific links – in case of collaboration among team members.
In terms of security, there is also what seems to be an industry-wide reckoning that BL.INK is a great alternative to Bitly. For instance, it has open API access. It also has a list of security features and configurations that include tiered user access permissions and audit logs and more.
While there may have been security/safety concerns about Bitly, in some ways BL.INK’s security and user management features are more advanced.
We are yet to see users complaining bitterly about the Bitly customer service, customers particularly report positively about BL.INK’s “fast and perfect” responses to user requests – as one happy customer put it.
BL.INK offers four specific plans (plus one that is subject to customization). Although the plans start from $48/month (contrary to Bitly’s starting plan of $29/month), the five plans in BL.INK (contrary to Bitly’s three) means that BL.INK offers more options to its customers.
TinyURL is where link shortening all started. We may recall that Bitly came on board a whole six years after TinyURL was born in 2002. If web services that have been around for longer are better trusted, then TinyURL is the most trusted of all.
In what specific respects is TinyURL still a better choice than Bitly?
First off, you can use TinyURL to create shortened links even without the need to register on their website. So far, this is not possible with Bitly. If time is a luxury for you, and you care less about other considerations (analytics inclusive), then TinyURL should top your list of Bitly alternatives.
Another area of choice where free users prefer TinyURL to Bitly is branding. Free users on Bitly can only create generic links that make no reference to their brand or particular offer (such as bit.ly/2QUKR7t). But free users (including non-subscribers) can customize links with their brand names or offers on the TinyURL platform (such as tinyurl.com/MyName).
Users also like the fact that TinyURL links do not ever expire. This is unlike most other URL shorteners (including Bitly). So, when you create a TinyURL link it remains yours for as long as the service lasts.
While TinyURL is hundred percent free and has no paid plans, free users are only limited to some features, functionalities, and offers on Bitly.
This is a relatively new member of the committee of link shorteners. Short.io used to go by the name Short.cm.
One area that Short.io is better than Bitly is that you can customize a link with your own sub-domain. This applies even on a free plan of the URL shortener. Comparatively, the closest you can get to unique branding with a free account of Bitly is a generic link as already said.
Again, Short.io has a WordPress plugin, unlike Bitly. Given the popularity of WordPress among webmasters and site owners these days, this is certainly going to resonate with many people.
Short.io has three plans that start from $20. Compared with Bitly’s starting price of $23, this is significantly more affordable.
Just as it is with TinyURL, you can shorten links on Bit.do without having to register on their website first.
All you need to do is to paste your long link into a box. Then, if you like, you can customize the last fragment of the URL to something descriptive (such as bit.do/MyName).
Next, you will check in a reCAPTCHA box and click on a tab tagged ‘shorten’. After that, your shortened link will be delivered to you in minutes or even seconds depending on your internet connection. So in terms of ease-of-use, Bit.do is a great alternative to Bitly.
Also, like TinyURL but unlike Bitly, a bit.do link will never expire. So, they belong to you for as long as the service lasts.
In their paid plans, one huge edge that Bit.do maintains over Bitly is that you can use it to track conversion. This means that you can use a Bit.do link to find out if someone makes a purchase, signed up on your membership site, or downloads your app.
Another enormous advantage of a Bit.do paid plan over a Bitly paid plan is that the former can be used for competitor analysis. It can help you identify current or likely future competition. It presents comparative metrics to let you see where you stand among your likely competitors.
Bit.do also provides geolocation, IP address tracking, and other detailed analytics and information. And, although some users have reported that they have received spam emails bearing bit.do links (which has terribly affected the reputation of this URL shortener), it has many security features.
For example, you can password-protect both your stats and your links.
As for the spam issues, we think it has to do with the extreme ease with which users can create shortened links on the platform.
However, the starting price for Bit.do ($85/month) is significantly higher than that of Bitly ($29). You can see the pricing plans here.
This India-based URL shortener can easily replace Bitly especially for users in India or outside the United States. This is because of many reasons.
First, Lnnkin offers many normally premium features in their free plan. The platform offers an unlimited number of short links and redirects with a free account. However, these ‘unlimited’ offers are otherwise limited by the number of clicks allowed to a free user per month – which is 1000.
The free account also comes with a UTM builder, link management capabilities, and the ability to provide detailed metrics while tracking links.
The free account allows you to export click data in CSV files. With all these features and functionalities of a free Lnnkin account, it is easy to see why it is a great Bitly alternative especially if you are working on a tight budget.
Going further, Lnnkin has Chrome and Mozilla browser extensions. This is available to free users too. So, if you’re using either of those two popular browsers, you don’t have to log into your Lnnkin account every time you want to create links as long as you have the extension.
Finally, Lnnkin has a more affordable and flexible pricing plan. Compared with Bitly’s three plans that start from $29, Lnnkin has six pricing plans starting at $4.99. So, affordability is one huge aspect that Lnnkin may be considered a better alternative to Bitly.
This platform is more of a link tracker than a URL shortener. Although you can create short links with or without your own domain or sub-domain, the focus is far more on analytics than anything else.
With ClickMeter, you can manage metrics related to affiliate commissions, data, and banners. These are aside from the usual metrics that you can track on Bitly and other link shortener options.
Another sense in which ClickMeter is a highly considerable Bitly alternative is that it comes packaged with click fraud protection. This is great for owners of affiliate programs, GPTs, and similar platforms where you need to detect click frauds.
For instance, Clkim’s re-targeting functionality is so well spoken of by real users that it may well be the best in the industry at the moment. It can automatically build a list of everyone who clicked on your Clkim link across the web.
You can create your own custom domain from the Clkim platform or you can point your existing domain to their server. In both cases, you can use the domain to create shortened links.
For instance, if my brand’s name is ‘MyBusiness’ and my domain name is MyBusiness.com, I can create a dedicated domain on Clkim (such as mybusine.ss) to shorten and track my links.
Otherwise, I can create shortened links with mybusiness.com (such as mybusiness.com/BookLaunch to replace mybusiness.com/books/events-book-launch-announcement).
Another outstanding feature of Clkim that merits its mention as a considerable Bitly alternative is its geo-targeting functionality. With this feature, you can target the links at prospects in specific geographical locations.
Compared to Bitly’s three pricing plans that start from $29, Clkim also offers three plans but it starts at $10 per month if it’s charged annually.
It is a painstaking task trying to pick the top 10 out of probably over a hundred link shorteners in the market currently.
It is even more difficult to single out one out of the 10 items on this list because each one sports very irresistible features and functionalities that would make you seriously ponder before deciding.
Everyone would have their own reasons for picking any of the options as the best. But, having considered that YOURLS is the only item that is totally free and open-source among them, but still gives you the most control over your account and branding prospects, we think it would serve the interests of most people.
This is irrespective of the fact that the site’s user interface looks archaic. But then, that’s about aesthetics and has very little to do with the core values expected from such a service.
Tom loves to write on technology, e-commerce & internet marketing.
Tom has been a full-time internet marketer for two decades now, earning millions of dollars while living life on his own terms. Along the way, he’s also coached thousands of other people to success.