URL shorteners trim down regular links so they can be shared more easily on Twitter and other social media platforms. My favorite side benefit of URL shorteners is that every link click can be tracked as it's redirected to its final destination.Not all URL shorteners actually offer analytics, though, so if you need tracking you must choose wisely. To help you along, I recommend these 3 URL shorteners with analytics:
It's the Twitter default, and therefore very popular. Full-featured analytics are available to whoever creates a short URL and any other person who cares to look. The trick to seeing stats for any bit.ly link: add a "+" sign at the end of the short URL (for example, http://bit.ly/djG9TM becomes http://bit.ly/djG9TM+). Bit.ly also offers a Pro account with an enhanced dashboard for private use by link publishers.
- Best for you if: you want to stick with a popular choice and you don't mind sharing your stats with the world.
- Site: bit.ly
This URL shortener has many of same features as bit.ly, but stats for URLs are not public. In other words, you must be logged in to view your own stats, and you cannot view stats for URLs you did not create. Another differentiator: cli.gs displays geolocation data as a map overlay rather than a chart - nice if you're a "visual" person.
- Best for you if: you need full-featured analytics and privacy.
- Site: cli.gs
This tool takes on the problem from a different angle: the URL shortener and the associated reporting interface are embedded within Hootsuite, a social network management client. It takes a bit of work to set up an account and learn how to use it, but the stats are really well done. You get analytics for individual messages as well as a summary roll-up. Another very useful feature: an optional form helps you append campaign codes to your URLs before you shorten them.
- Best for you if: you're looking a comprehensive system for managing posts OR you want help appending tracking codes as you shorten URLs.
- Site: hootsuite.com
These 3 tools are my top picks. For a more complete review of URL shorteners (both with and without analytics), see Danny Sullivan's post from April 2009.