On March 30, 2019, Google shut down its popular and proved-to-be the fastest URL shortener service, Goo.gl. (why?)
The real reason to close this great, simple (yet-effective) shortener, is that Google takes it to be used as the shortener engine for Firebase based apps, to generate deep links. It means basically, you cannot use it anymore unless creating Firebase projects and all that hassle.
So if Goo.gl is down, what are the best alternatives out there? there are some immediate suspects, like Bit.ly that will probably get the jackpot, but it’s a great opportunity to shed some light on the pros & cons of this platform
What it takes to be on this list?
- Has free tier
- SaaS only (no self-hosting)
- Stable and well-known
- Does not shows ads when redirecting
Why this list so short?
URL shortening services work in a rough area. The product might seem pretty easy to develop, so you probably ask yourself why not build one of your own.
One challenge is performance. When someone clicks a short link, the browser takes him to the shortening service server, and then to the final destination URL. This process should take near to zero seconds. Any latency and it can harm your traffic. So, you need to use a shortening service with a lot of servers all around the world, redirecting the user in no time. Yep, it’s not a game for beginners.
The second factor is spam. People might abuse the service, send spammy links or use it for phishing. The result can be devastated for the shortening service. If enough users report these links as “harmful” or “spam” it can take the whole service down. That’s why we didn’t mention too-new services or services that look like a small gig and not a solid platform.
Speaking of risks, as a user, I urge you not to use shortening services for links directing to documents or sensitive files in the cloud, such as google docs. Use it only for marketing purposes.
Table of Contents
By detention, Bit.ly is the most popular shortening service. It is so popular that it became a synonym for the action of shortening a link in general (“Bit.ly your link”).
Bit.ly offers a very good free tier that might fit most of your needs, keeps statistics for 30 days and you can even use branded links. One thing to remember is that your bit.ly click statistics are public, which means your competitors can see your link statistics. In order to do so, just add the plus sign, ‘+’ after the short link and you’ll see all the data.
Bit.ly premium plans pricing is quite outrageous ($1000/month) unless you are a Fortune 500 company. Of course this plan gives everything you need.
Bit.ly will probably gain most users that kicked out from Goo.gl but since most of them are free users, I’m not sure how many of them will take the paid plan.
Some drawbacks using the free version of Bit.ly:
- Analytics are deleted after 30 days
- Cannot delete a link once it’s created
- Cannot change the destination URL
- Link data is public data
- Can result in Duplicate links
Ow.ly is now part of Hootsuite, so you must open a Hootsuite free account in order to use it. It’s a simple straight-forward URL shortener, has its own Chrome extension and a nice tool. Nothing more to say though 😊
TinyURL, One of the oldest, yet stable URL shortening service. It has a very old user interface and it does basically just that and nothing more. It means that there are no click statistics, A/B testing stuff. Nothing. There are no paid plans with advanced features and I can only guess their business model.
Surprisingly, it has some kind of API, which means you can make your own shortening tools using TinyURL engine (add your URL to this address and get the tiny URL in the response – https://tinyurl.com/api-create.php?url=http://www.mydomain.com/path.)
TinyURL has another nice feature that users or apps to preview the links before clicking. It means that if you’re sharing this link on social media for example, it shows the preview image and content of the target URL. More pros/cons in the comparison table at the bottom.
TinyCC, one of the oldest services out there, has a free tier for non-registered users, and the paid plans start with $5/month. Paid plans have all the premium features for savvy marketers such as retargeting pixels, geo-targeting, custom domains and more, but has limitations on the links created.
TinyCC, as well as other free services expose the click statistics to the public. You can add ‘~’ at the end of the URL to see it statistics.
Pixel.me is a URL shortener focused on heavy-duty marketing and A/B testing. As a premium advanced shortener, it offers A/B/ testing,
Custom Domain, customized slugs, adding pixels, geo-redirects, heavy statistics and monetization options. There’s no free plan what so ever.
Is.gd is very similar to TinyURL. Very basic URL shortener with no registration at all, and even allows you to customize the link and see statistics (although they are public). Is.gd has a vast documentation for developers and allows app to use its shortening service for free, up to a specific limit (that’s probably their business model).
Clkim is a URL shortener focused on heavy-duty marketing and A/B testing. As a premium advanced shortener, it offers A/B/ testing, adding pixels, geo redirects, heavy statistics and monetization options. There’s no free plan what so ever.
Goo.gl Alternatives Comparison Table
|Has free tier||Yes||Yes||Yes||No||No||No||Yes|
|Limit on short links||10,000/month on Free tier||No||Unlimited||Depends on the selected plan||Unlimited||Unlimited||Unlimited|
|Limited clicks||No||No||No||Depends on the selected plan||Depends on the selected plan||Unlimited||No|
|Private Statistics||No. Add + at the end of any Bit.ly short link to see its statistics||Yes||No statistics at all||Yes||Yes||Yes||No. add '-' at the end of any Is.gd link to see statistics.|
|Has paid plan||Yes||Yes||No||Only paid plans||Only paid plans||Only paid plans||No|
|Preview link before click||Yes||No||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Customize URL slug||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Has Chrome extension||Yes||Yes||Yes, but non official||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, but non official|
|Has API||Yes||Yes||Kind of||Yes||No||Yes||Yes|
|Has advanced features (A/B testing, adding pixels, custom targeting etc.)||Yes||No||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|Official GDPR compliance or documentation||Yes||Yes||No||No||Yes||Yes||No|