November 28, 2010

Which Link Shortener is Better? bit.ly, goo.gl, is.gd

A ginormous number of links are shared daily on the Internet – on social sites (such as Twitter, Facebook), on websites, via email and more.

While sharing links, a short link is highly desirable and in many cases required (as with Twitter which has a 140 character limit). Short links also deliver a pleasant experience for the viewer.

To create short links a short domain name is required. For your own website, you could create a short domain name to help keep its links short. However, for your own website and for other websites, you will still need a Link Shortener service to create short link. The service performs the following functions

1. Encode a Long Link to a Short Link e.g.
    Long URL:
http://www.simplerna.com/2010/11/apple-airplay-play-your-iphone-ipad.html
    Short URL:
http://bit.ly/fWAfWr   - 20 characters
                     
http://goo.gl/Rsf9B  - 18 characters
                      http://is.gd/hVt7t  - 18 characters

2. Decode the Short Link to a Long Link
    and redirect the user to the Long URL e.g. click on any of the above short URL’s

There are 100’s of Link shortener services. bit.ly, goo.gl, is.gd are few of the most popular ones. A test to see which Link shortener is better? bit.ly, goo.gl or is.gd


Short Link Length

The base link lengths of the three services are as follows
http://bit.ly - 13 characters
http://goo.gl - 13 characters
http://is.gd - 12 characters  --- is the shortest

And, as seen in the example above, when a long link is shortened, goo.gl & is.gd both produce an overall link of 18 characters, while bit.ly produces 20 characters. These results are typical of the different services.


Link Shortener Speed

The speed at which the service redirects to the long URL.

To test the speed, Numion stopwatch is used on the different short links and the page load time of the long URL is measured. The page includes ads, which slows down the page load times.

http://bit.ly/hA7GjK - 12.664 secs
http://is.gd/hVw2R - 13.497 secs
http://goo.gl/2M2ox - 13.138 secs

All the services perform at about the same speed


Link Shortener Service Uptime

Once you have shared a short link, the shortener service needs to be available 24/7, so users clicking on the short URL can always be directed to the full URL.

All of the above services are “mostly” available 24/7. “mostly” because for each of these services, there are times (rare) when a user has to click twice to get the full URL. However, unless these services share their actual performance data, it is difficult to quantify these numbers.


Link Shortener Service Accuracy

While all of the services are highly accurate most of the time, there are times when the service may produce an incorrect link. An example is bit.ly providing an incorrect short link e.g.


Bit.ly incorrect link: http://bit.ly/fPnKXs
Bit.ly correct link: http://bit.ly/gb0hlY

Bit.ly produced an incorrect link in the first try, but then in the very next try it produced the correct link.

Moral of the Story -> always test the short link before sharing it.

Overall – all of the link shorteners perform well enough for daily use.