With the general rise of social networks and microblogging platforms and the fact that people share a lot of links every day, the popularity of link shortening services has grown massively. URL shorteners squeeze a long and complicated URL into a short link and therefore make it easy to share those links with others.
The shortening technology already got patented in September 2000 and the patent was issued in 2005. TinyURL, a still existing service was launched in 2002. Today there are hundreds of shortening services, many of which can not only shorten the original link but provide the short link with additional services.
Also many of the big companies offer their own link shortening service. Twitter shorts every link you want to post with its t.co service, no matter whether this link has already been shortened or not. In addition to Google’s service goo.gl and the standard link shortening service of Hootsuite called ow.ly, the worldwide best known service is without question bit.ly. Since bit.ly offers the possibility to use a custom domain for shortening, thousands of brands and tools are using the bit.ly technology under their hood.
At the end of June 2014 we added the analysis functionality of competitive click tracking to our tool. In fact, you can now easily discover how many clicks a link generated that has been posted in a Facebook post or a tweet. Therefore, we analyzed a sample set of 20,000 tweets that have been published in the first week of July to find out which shortening services are the most used. For this link shortening analysis we only took Twitter profiles with more than 1,000 followers into account.
Link Shortening Analysis: The Share Of The Top Shortening Services
Please note: The number for each of the services means that X % of the Twitter profiles (out of the sample set) have used the specific service at least once in the first week of July 2014.
With a share of 77.87% a broad majority of the Twitter profiles still publish tweets without the usage of a link shortener. When we now look at the external shortening services, bit.ly is the clear leader with a share of about 39.39% of all analyzed Twitter profiles using them. For bit.ly it gets even better, as it is immediately followed by its own custom technology with a share of 25.93%. This stands for thousands of custom short links, like our own quint.ly, which use the bit.ly technology. Rank 4 in this chart goes to ow.ly with 19.08% which is the shortening service of Hootsuite.
If you remember our Facebook post app analysis, in which Hootsuite was the most used third party app, the share of ow.ly is no surprise. With 7.80% Google’s goo.gl takes the fifth place, directly followed by Facebooks fb.me shortener with 6.55%. Rank 7 is taken by tinyurl.com, the second independent service after bit.ly. On the eighth place ranks wp.me, the shortening service of WordPress one of the most used CMS in the world. The service called po.st states on its website to be: “The leading shortening and sharing platform,” but only grabs a share of 1.01% in our analysis. Rank 10 is taken by the third independent link shortening service is.gd, which states to be an ethical URL shortener. Tiny.cc on place 11 is also an independent one, which already exists since 2006. The portuguese service called migre.me takes a share of 0.13%.
The Whole Link Shortening Service Distribution
For those, who may ask which services also took a share, I compiled the following table:
Final Words And My Opinion
As you can see the link shortening market is dominated by only a few services. Hundreds of shortening services exist, but most of them don’t have a significant share in the market. Compared with other web services and social media tools where the market is still highly fragmented the shortening market has rapidly consolidated. The leader role is clearly with bit.ly.