• Torley

    What a meaty, lovely article! Danny, I was hoping for something like this to come because I’ve seen vague lists of URL shorteners before, yet not a really detailed analysis of pros and cons. How much time did it take you to put this together? Consider it well-spent, in any case.

    I like healthy competition but there are too many URL shorteners which are specialist novelties and simply won’t be useful over the long-term. That’s why I like those which have all the requisite features; I started with TinyURL, moved on to Snipr, and then to tr.im. One disadvantage tr.im has is, you currently can’t change a custom URL after you’ve set it. You must quickly delete and recreate it, or affix a tiny change to the URL you want to redirect to.

    Overall (and I’ve also tried bit.ly, cli.gs, and others) I find tr.im the most useful. Also note TwitterBar (a useful Firefox extension for tweeting from the address bar) was upgraded to 2.1 recently, and they switched from TinyURL to is.gd. I wish I could have tr.im support here too — which I DO use with TwitterFeed, as you astutely point out. It’s really handy for finding out how many people click to my blog posts from Twitter!

    Thanx again for such a wonderful analysis, and have an awesome day!

    (I came here by way of seeing it in the Twitter section in the upper-right of popurls.)

  • MarketingHits

    Great article Danny! Just wonder why you used TinyURL to tweet this and not one of your top picks.

  • online

    “Just launched this week by social news site Digg, DiggBar seems at first glace to be a URL shortener. It does shorten URLs. You don’t even need to visit Digg to use it. You just enter a URL after the Digg.com domain to shorten it.”

    umm, if you have digg.com at the beginning of a string of characters entered into the location bar and then you press enter, don’t you sort of visit digg.com?

    If not, I’d sure like to hear you explain what happens instead.

    Thanks!

  • http://tripleodeon.com James Pearce

    Knowing what to do when requested by a mobile user-agent is an increasingly important feature.

    http://delivr.com seems to be one of the best (I have no affiliation)

  • skremer

    If you have a short domain name and a little bit of PHP / MySQL knowledge you can have your own shortening under your domain. I use Short URL:

    http://www.harleyquine.com/php-scripts/short-url-plugin/

  • aronr

    Nice review Danny!

    You wrote: “I know it is unavoidable, but I do not like not being able to tell what website I am about to visit …”

    I was somewhat surprised that this feature wasn’t a point of comparison in your review. TinyURL offers ‘preview’ links – when you click one of those links – which necessarily have somewhat longer, ‘short’ URLs – you’re taken to the TinyURL website and shown the full link you’re about to visit. While you might not always want to send your correspondents preview URLs, here are some circumstances where you might, and it’s handy to have that option available.

    Michael Kassner on TechRepublic recently described this feature, in his article “URL shortening: Yet another security risk” at http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/security/?p=1044, as well as a Firefox add-on for Bit.ly that apparently offers similar preview capabilities.

  • http://www.susuh.de @Susuh

    Great article–thanks a lot for the in-depth-analysis!

    I am fond tr.im mainly because of its seamless integration with Nambu – the hopefully soon fully operational new Mac OS X client for Twitter.

  • http://usacac.army.mil/BLOG/blogs/djimo/default.aspx subbob

    Regarding your comment, “It would also be nice if URLs could be twitted without counting against the Twitter character count at all.”

    Since the upper limit (160 characters) is based upon the SMS message length, I don’t believe exempting anything from the character count is a feasible option.

    Also, it’s not unusual for Tweets to include more one URL, so if they were exempted it could lead to abuse (spamming many URLs) or require a “single URL” limit.

  • http://www.TurboSocialMedia.com/blog mattarndt

    Great analysis.. This was a much needed breakdown of the redirection services.

  • http://usermac.posterous.com usermac

    \Concerns Over Malicious Links\. I have found that EventBox has a preference to expand shortened URLs with the only downside being when you use it for twitter and try to retweet, it keeps the longer expanded URL and you are forced to shorten it yet again.

  • http://usermac.posterous.com usermac

    “Concerns Over Malicious Links ” … and to help prevent the bad redirects from harming your computer you may use OpenDNS at the router or computer. It looks for known sites and warns you.

  • http://www.unhub.com/varud adam_n

    Anybody have comments on 307 redirects? That looks like the proper solution and it’s supported by Google properly:

    http://sebastians-pamphlets.com/the-anatomy-of-http-redirects-301-302-307/

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    @torley — thanks! Took about two solid days of working at it. Glad to have it done!

    @marketinghits – I twittered it out using bit.ly. But on our Search Engine Land twitter account, it probably went using TinyURL. That’s because I haven’t changed Twitterfeed over yet. I was too tired from all the writing. I’ll be doing that soon!

    @onine – Yes, you do go to Digg. What I meant is that you don’t have to go there and fill out some form, like with the other shorteners.

    @aronr – I wasn’t that concerned about the preview feature, myself, so I didn’t spend time testing it. Clearly many others are. I’ll check on this in the future. The other issue is that if by preview, you get a page that lets you then click to the destination site, that’s 200 page — not a 301 redirect. So the preview page gets all your link credit. That’s the case with TinyURL — just tested it now.

    @subbob – I guess I figure most people are not getting Twitter via SMS. Could be wrong about that. But Twitter could break up longer messages into two when they hit SMS. Good point on the inclusion of more than one URL in tweets, though.

  • xyberia

    The record for shortest URL service surely must be r.im

  • http://www.Knyshov.com wiseleo

    I just went through this the other day.

    is.gd annoyed me by not supporting URLs with variable parameters, namely Facebook profile paths.

    Switched to bit.ly :)

    You may want to mention that bit.ly is now a venture-backed company, so it’s less likely to fold while they have VC money. :)

  • http://twitter.com/danboarder danboarder

    Hmm the most recent URL tool I’ve found interesting is http://ow.ly and the related http://hootsuite.com/ (no affiliation). I guess it’s new and didn’t make it to the list.

  • Cory3

    How about shorting multiple URLs: http://fuseurl.com
    Is it useful at all?

    Cory

  • youfoundjake

    Great Article, I’m glad I caught your tweet for poll takers..
    Still working on the home-grown shortner for my site, will post the code when it’s ready..

  • lcollier

    Great article, but TinyURL does do tracking. When you make a TinyURL, there is a link on the page to a tracking URL. You have to copy it right then & there, or the tracking link disappears. I’ve been tracking my TinyURLs all week.

  • http://businessmindhacks.com alexschleber

    Good comparative list.

    Since there really is no particular reason to prop up these services, you might want to consider this (completely free, no strings attached) WordPress “Theme hack” to build your own Tinyurl using WordPress in < 45 minutes:

    http://3on.us/diy-tinyurl

    Why would you want to do this?

    You completely control the link appearance, the custom domain gets people curious on 1st encounter, higher click-through for semi-sensical “custom” URL extensions (which can work straight from WordPress’ “Press This” bookmarklet in this solution), avoidance of public services’ bugs/annoyances (e.g. Tinyurl and is.gd strip off # page anchors as used in comment links), and most importantly you retain/own all of your click stats/data (unlike e.g. with budurl who wants to charge you for downloading it).

    That’s just for starters… there’s more.

  • Guykawsaki

    NIce analysis. I use Adjix, and I think it should be in your matrix. I also think that you should add two features:

    !) availability as a button

    2) ability to schedule tweets.

    This, combined with stats, is why I use Adjix. Also, not running ads is an option. I don’t run ads in my Adjix links at all.

    Many people who see an Adjix link think: “It’s got an ad in it.” It doesn’t have to.

    Guy Kawasaki

  • mrbishi

    Really useful article, ive just started using bit.ly instead of tinyurl because of the twitter integration and link analytics.

    I can see the concern about malicious links becoming ever more an important issue as the twitter user base continues to grow at such a phenomenal speed and spammers start to cotton onto it’s potential.

    There are some nice firefox extensions and a website http://www.expandmyurl.com that lengthen these short urls so that you know exactly where these short links go before you get there.

  • malcolmcoles

    @danboarder Ow.ly is another ones that frames the target URL (ie it serves up your page on its URL): http://www.malcolmcoles.co.uk/blog/owly-hootsuite-in-widespread-breach-of-newspaper-site-tcs/

    (PS Thanks for the link, Danny, although this analysis has knocked my review into a cocked hat!)

  • ejhansen

    Nice article, and very thorough. I was surprised to not see Ping.fm, though. This is what I use primarily, and it has nice capabilities of being able to post to multiple destinations (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.) via web, mobile, IM client, and so on.

    thanks,
    http://twitter.com/ericjhansen

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    @guykawasaki I might look at Adjix in the future. Had a few other people suggest further shorteners to consider. But there are so many! That’s why I focused on the ones that had client support or were showing some signs of popularity through my survey or other metrics. I’ve updated this in the story, in the “What We Use” section.

    Adjix does a 200 redirect. Even when I told it I didn’t want ads, it still framed other pages (they call it wrapping) like DiggBar does. Unless there’s an option to provide a 301 redirect, it would go into my “Avoid These Services” section. Of course, if people want to earn off ads by using it (and don’t mind effectively shoving those ads on sites run by others), I suppose it’s a choice to consider.

  • http://geek.nexo.com PetrBuben

    Great article !! … now at http://bit.ly/selurl or http://kl.am/short ! :]
    http://friendfeed.com/petrbuben , http://geek.nexo.com
    thanks

    well how about to combine shorten url with share url services? such as
    http://go2.me , or http://1link.in … multiple open is always nice … what Id like to see also is close them then all opened too ………

    I also suggest that your server gets an address of http://sel.im or something .. you gonna get more hits that way :]

  • http://toogeektobetrue.com Chris Prakoso

    Danny,
    Thanks for the review. As Plurl’s creator and developer, I was quite surprise (and humbled at the same time) that Plurl made it to the list.
    Thanks for the things that you’ve pointed out regarding the service, rest assure that I will try my best to improve it.

  • Thomas Promny

    Maybe you also feel like checking out our service http://redir.ec – focus on usability (very simple setup), traffic stats and last but not least, a cool name. ;-)

  • mat.tillett

    Thank you for writing and sharing this Danny. It’s a very detailed article and includes some great learning material.

  • JoeMoreno

    Thanks for such a detailed article. We, at Adjix, are going to change our redirects to 301 and see how that works out.

    Also, keep in mind that our ads are always optional. Additionally, Adjix is the only URL shortener, that I’m aware of, which lets you use your own domain name:
    http://web.adjix.com/AdjixDNS.html

    Cheers,
    Joe Moreno
    President
    Adjix

  • Mukul Kumar

    Great article Danny. I did a quick search of the popularity of each of the URL shortening service. I have presented the results on my blog at – http://bit.ly/iNFK .

    Thanks,
    Mukul.
    http://mukulblog.blogspot.com

  • http://www.lightbulbinteractive.com davidsculbertson

    Danny, what a fantastic article! It inspired me to figure out if the top five provide referrer data for your website’s analytics. The results were interesting:

    http://lightbulbinteractive.blogspot.com/2009/04/which-url-shortening-services-play-well.html

  • nbierma

    Very interesting and helpful, thanks.

    For more options, see my http://www.twitter.com/redirex

  • http://www.planetc1.com/ chiropractic

    I find myself using whatever shortURL services are in TweetDeck, although I like kl.am best. I’d have to imagine more webmasters are going with an in house shortening solution, picked up some shorter domains to do that myself. Seems the best way to control link juice would be to own the domain.

    Thanks for a terrific summary.

  • http://startpad.org mckoss

    Excellent detailed post. I’m developing a URL shortener myself, so I’ve tried to get an exhaustive list of all of the shorteners out there. I have collected a list of over 100 of them so far (I’ve listed them along with their Alexa rank).

    http://blog.go2.me/2009/01/exhausting-review-of-link-shorteners.html

    The most interesting data I’ve dug up is an estimate of the number of Tweets per day that each of these services is being used for – I think that may be a much more reliable number of their true popularity rather than the raw Alexa number.

  • JoeMoreno

    Hi Danny,

    I saw the comments you left for Guy Kawasaki, above, about our service, Adjix.

    SEO is a bit of black magic, to us, but we’re keenly interested in following the industry’s best practices.

    We’ve changed our HTML status code from 200 to 301 for redirects – we’ll try this and see how it works out. I really don’t see any downside.

    As of today, to help with the SEO rankings of the original content when running our ads we also included a link rel=”canonical” to the original URL and we instructed robots not to index the frameset.

    Regarding framing when you selected “No Ad”: There are two occasions when this may happen:

    1. When anonymously shortening a URL (i.e. not being logged in), the first person to anonymously shorten the link wins. This is to prevent one person from shortening a URL without an ad only to have another person change this. However, hardly anyone uses Adjix to shorten URLs anonymously since you wouldn’t be able to see your links stats. Regardless, we need to present the user with a clear message if their URL has previously been shorten by someone else.

    2. If you shorten a URL, when you’re logged in (or Adjix recognized you via a cookie), you cannot change the type of ad (if any) that’s associated with your link. Again, this is to prevent someone from passing around their ad-free link only to turn on ads, later, if the link becomes popular – that would tick off a lot of people.

    I’m sure we’ll learn more SEO best practices, going forward – thanks for your feedback.

    Cheers,
    Joe Moreno
    President
    Adjix
    joe.moreno+searchengineland@adjix.com

  • JoeMoreno

    We noticed something interesting when using a 301 redirect with Adjix – Google Analytics no longer tracks traffic to that web page.

    Does anyone have a tip to get Google Analytics to track 301 redirects?

  • http://www.new.fr shoorturl

    you forgot 2 URL shortening services :

    http://p1.fr
    http://a.nf

  • jonas02
  • http://www.youfoundjake.com youfoundjake

    Well, as I promised, a short url branding plugin, made by phil nelson, intergrates nicely into wordpress.. keep the branding to yourself..
    Sample link: http://youfoundjake.com/oyhvw

    thanks to danny for the poll, and thanks to phil nelson for the plugin

  • lupo

    lovin the new http://toto.to dedicated to torrents.

  • solterno

    Thanks for the huge list.

    I will add the shorteners who will manage how to show a location or an address.

    http://www.shortgps.com
    http://www.tinygps.org

    …who are quite helpfull in some cases

  • tomeglenn

    Hey Danny, great article. It would seem that some stigma has been placed on URL shortening services – but I am of the firm belief that they do provide a valuable service when they are applied to things such as Twitter and Facebook etc.

    I myself am the creator of a brand new URL shortening service – http://tdy.me
    It is still under development, but I am hoping that it is well on its way to becoming the URL shortening service of choice for a lot of people.

    It is currently being implemented into a new iPhone Twitter client known as Twitterville (Which looks like it could give Tweetie a run for its money!) – so I am very excited about that!

    Again, great article.

  • mayank

    A very detailed analysis of the services Dany. It helped me understand the various services (good and bad) that are being offered by these guys. It helped me with some url de-referencing that I am doing on a small project. It prompted me to create a blog post of my own detailing the problems faced while using these services. A Call for Responsible URL Shortening Services

  • http://sergiomcfly sergiomcfly

    You forgot to make a table with the smallest one’s like http://o.ly

  • John Ringgold

    Another good service is http://tiny.im

  • http://twitter.com/alexanderchalk Alexander Chalkidis

    For serious SEO people, it surely can’t be a good thing that everyone can see the stats of your url!   Also most shorteners group all references to the same web adress in the same stats which is infuriating when you want to set up a simple A/B test.

  • Nancy Grace

    I am using 
    http://tinyy.in/  it’s a simple and fast.

  • http://twitter.com/AnthonyVader Anthony Vader

    yi.tl just launched: http://yi.tl

    yi.tl is the first URL shortener to offer support for category tags. This unique service allows users to group related URLs and easily retrieve old links. To save time, the site will even make tag suggestions based on the URL being shortened.

  • Andrew Boatti

    Another good one is lil.cm