One of my new favourite web tools is called bit.ly, a kickass URL shortener with a difference.


Essentially, bit.ly is, backed by the interesting folks at Betaworks, is a next-gen version of TinyURL, replete with some advanced features that you might find useful.

And where TinyURL has stood still, bit.ly has innovated…

The main advantage with bit.ly is that it tracks clicks, and you can see where those clicks originated from.

You can shorten a URL in the traditional manner, but then drill down into the detail by analysing click patterns. It tracks clicks by time, by country, and provides you with detail on the referrer down to sub-domain level. Ace of base.

Twitter and bit.ly

Early adopters on Twitter have embraced bit.ly to make the most of that 140 character limit, shortening cumbersome URLs into concise ones. The majority of URLs are reduced to a mere four characters after the hash, providing you with at least 120 characters to play with in the rest of your tweet.

Bit.ly knows which side its bread is buttered on: the interface has a built-in ‘Post to Twitter’ form. If you manage multiple Twitter accounts then bit.ly can handle that from a single log-in.

The bit.ly bookmarklet is supercool. You can add it to your toolbar to shorten the URLs with one click. But there’s more to this than meets the eye. Highlight some text on a page and then click the bookmarklet to tell bit.ly to paste that text into the ‘Post to Twitter’ form. Again, very useful… it makes Twitter so very easy.

To see a list of your URLs just use the search function, and type in your Twitter username. This will show you all bit.ly links associated with your profile alongside a) the number of clicks generated by your link, and b) the total clicks from all bit.ly links pointing to a specific page.

But there is a caveat, as per usual. Just as you can see my stats, I will be able to see yours. So if prying eyes are a concern then it might not be for you.

Perhaps Bit.ly will launch a premium version for businesses, with added privacy features, admin tools and a group log-in? There might be already be a market for a ‘bit.ly Pro’, even though it only launched a few months ago.

So that’s bit.ly. Tuck in. Enjoy.

PS – if you don’t yet see the value in Twitter then check out Andrew Bruce Smith‘s Six reasons to supercharge your PR efforts with Twitter.

Chris Lake is editor in chief at E-consultancy and can be found Twittering here.