Free URL Shortener

08.May.2022

Free URL Shortener

 

A fast and simple URL shortener

 

RB.GY is the perfect free URL shortener for transforming long, ugly links into nice, memorable and trackable short URLs. Use it to shorten links for any social media platforms, blogs, SMS, emails, ads, or pretty much anywhere else you want to share them. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp, emails, SMS, videos. RB.GY is the best free alternative to generic URL shorteners like bitly and tinyurl. After shorterning the URL, check how many clicks it received.

Short URLs or Branded Links?

The ultimate guide to URL shorteners and branded links

Use URL shorteners and branded links like a professional. Make it easier for consumers to engage with your content, and get statistics that tell you what content is most valuable to your consumers.

This post was inspired by a problem we needed to solve for ourselves. We experienced some pain with the short URLs we were using to share blog articles, news, and other content with our audience. Solving our problem was a great learning experience, and we think the skills we learned about working with URL shorteners will be helpful to you. They might even save you from some future grief.

What is a short URL?

The URLs you see in your browser can get pretty long. That might be okay while you're on a web page, but when you're sharing one of those URLs on social media, it can be ugly and cumbersome.

A short URL makes a long URL appear a lot neater. When you create a short URL, you're creating a shortcut to the long URL you see when you visit a web page. A user clicks on the short URL and is immediately navigated to the long URL. This all happens in the blink of an eye and is transparent to the end-user. The whole experience is made possible by the use of URL shorteners.

Use branded URLs

Branded URLs are a type of short URL. They're different because the person or company sharing the content brands them to match their unique brand identity. Branding URLs doesn't make them work any better. It just makes them more professional, and that does matter.

If you run any kind of a business and are thinking about using a URL shortener, you should brand your URLs. Otherwise, you're extending the brand of the URL shortener that you're using. When you see a link that begins with bit.ly/_short-url, it's no secret what URL shortener the sharer is using. They're using Bitly, and they're adding Bitly's brand to everything they share. Our short URLs all look like leapworks.something/_short-url, with more on that .something in a bit.

 

Be specific about content type

Most URL shorteners can accommodate multiple domains and subdomains. That means you can use a different URL scheme for each type of content you share. A lot of companies use branded URLs like social.example.com/_short-url. That's okay, but it's not all that informative. If the URL is being shared, the context is already social. The word "social" doesn't add any information that isn't already known. When using subdomains for your short URLs, use words that both describe the content you're sharing and inform your users. Here are some examples:

  • news.example.com/_short-url
  • blog.example.com/_short-url
  • fun.example.com/_short-url
  • link.example.com/_short-url
  • boston.example.com/_short-url

How specificity helps you with metrics

URL shorteners provide you with metrics about your content. They tell you how many people click on each short URL that you share, so you know what content is getting the most engagement and what's falling flat. You want to share more content that people value and less that people don't.

Not all clicks are created equal. As someone who creates and shares content, you have a few goals:

  • To deliver value to your consumers and cement your brand position.
  • To establish your company or yourself as an expert in your market: an authoritative source.
  • To grow your consumer audience.

Using unique URL patterns for the different types of content you share is smart. The engagement you receive for each content type means something different. To get a better sense for what that means, we'll explain our own choices.

Blog

We use leapworks.blog to share content we've written ourselves with our audience. All the content we create is done with the intent to deliver value to our consumers. The amount of engagement we receive for a given piece of content lets us know whether or not the content was useful and if it solved a business problem. If our content isn't solving business problems, we need to change the type of content we create.

Fun

We use leapworks.fun to share content that's amusing. Funny content may get engagement, and it helps us show some personality, but it doesn't increase our domain expertise or credibility. Funny posts don't solve any business problems for our consumers.

News

We use leapworks.news to share information about us, LEAP WORKS. We'll call attention to announcements and press releases we issue and tell customers about changes to the products and services we offer. We may also link to a publication in which we're featured or quoted.

News helps us establish domain expertise and increase our credibility. It doesn't solve customer problems though. It's more of an endorsement, providing evidence that we're competent, and the advice we provide can be trusted.

Link

We use leapworks.link to share third-party content which we believe our consumers will find valuable. We don't have a monopoly on useful information. We create valuable content, but so do many other individuals and companies. When we find something useful, we share it.

Engagement on third-party content is informative. It allows us to test topic ideas without first writing a complete article or deep-dive guide. If we see a lot of engagement on the third-party content, it's an indication that we can move forward with the related content we have in mind. Said another way, we sometimes use Link to find existing value and Blog to create new value.

You might be wondering why we don't get more granular about content than just Link. Good question. The short answer is; we hit diminishing returns pretty quickly. A technology article can also be a how-to guide. Similarly, an SEO or marketing article could be a how-to or tech article. A single article can span multiple content categories. Making narrow category distinctions wouldn't increase our consumers' understanding of the content we're sharing.

Boston (a location)

We're not using leapworks.boston. We don't have an office in Boston. Instead, Boston is an example of how you might share information about happenings in a city or town. If you operate a local business, a location-specific URL is a great way to cross-promote community activities and events. It serves the greater good and enables consumers outside your domain to become familiar with you and consume your content. It does not directly increase your credibility within your domain, but can do so passively within a geographic area.

Use top-level domains instead of subdomains

It used to be that, almost every domain ended in .com or .net. That's not the case anymore. There are hundreds of other domain extensions or top-level domains (TLDs), and new ones are getting added all the time.

Using top-level domains with URL shorteners makes shared URLs...shorter. Here, you can see how it looks when you transition away from subdomains and start using top-level domains to convey meaning with your URLs:

  • example.news/_short-url
  • example.blog/_short-url
  • example.lol/_short-url
  • example.fyi/_short-url
  • example.how/_short-url

In addition to making shorter URLs than subdomains, top-level domains have another benefit. Users read URLs from left-to-right. When using top-level domains, shared URLs are read in the following order: the person or business sharing the content, followed by the type of content being shared, followed by the piece of content being shared. That's pretty understandable, and it makes your brand the first thing the reader sees when you share content.

Make your top-level domains work with URL shorteners

Making top-level domains work with URL shorteners takes a little more effort than it does to make subdomains work. That said, if you've ever created a CNAME or any other type of DNS record, you have all the technical skills you need to make your branded top-level domain work with your URL shortener of choice.

Understanding CNAMEs

A CNAME is a type of DNS record. It's essentially an alias. You can add a CNAME record to any subdomain you own and point the subdomain to a URL you don't own. When a user visits your owned subdomain in their browser, they actually visit the URL you don't own. They still see your branding though, giving users the appearance that you host the site or application.

We publish audio versions of our blog posts using Transistor, a podcast host. Our podcast's webpage is at blogcast.leapworks.io. We don't actually host that webpage. It's hosted by Transistor. You see our domain because we created the "blogcast" subdomain and pointed it to Transistor.