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Bit.ly Gets Better with New Data…Are You Using It Yet?

Lately, I’ve been using bit.ly for shortening the URLs I tweet, on the advice of Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb. I started using it instead of is.gd, which had been my previous favorite.

Why? Because bit.ly offers an array of useful data. Who knew that a simple URL shortener could open up so much interesting data?  I can’t believe people still use tinyurl and other services that “only” shorten URLs. The tracking of metadata around a posted URL – for free – makes bit.ly really powerful.

Here’s what bit.ly was offering before the latest data features…

  • Last 15 URLs: Bit.ly knows your last 15 shortened URLs, courtesy of a cookie.
  • Post to Twitter: Post shortened URLs from bit.ly to your Twitter account
  • Archived web page: Yup, see that page anytime because there’s a cached version of it, even if the source link changes or disappears.
  • Traffic sources: See how much click action that bit.ly URL got once you put it out there. And from what apps.
  • Conversations: Tracks which users on Twitter and FriendFeed put the URL out there. This is really cool, as you can see others who liked the same thing you did.
  • Browser bookmarklet: Easy way to create a shortened URL, stay on the page you’re reading.
  • Semantic metadata: According to Marshall’s July post, bit.ly was going to add semantic analysis via Reuter’s OpenCalais API. Looks like it’s there. Cool to see per link, probably more interesting with a critical mass of URLs.

On October 30, bit.ly announced several nice additions to their service.

  • Full referring domains: Not just the top-level domain.
  • Graph of click activity by time: The dates and times that a URL got clicked.
  • Clicks by Country: The countries of people who click on your URL. This is really fascinating.

Seriously, if you’re not using bit.ly, why not?

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New Kid on the Shortened URL Block: is.gd

Quick post. I’m seeing more long URLs shorted with the service is.gd. I, like most people, use tinyurl.com to shorten URLs. It’s great. But if you’re posting a URL on Twitter, those extra few characters in a TinyURL eat into your 140-character limit.

is.gd goes even further. Here’s an example comparing the two services:

Blog post: FriendFeed RSS Is a Fantastic Discovery Tool

Full URL: https://bhc3.wordpress.com/2008/04/05/friendfeed-rss-is-a-fantastic-discovery-tool/

  • 82 characters

TinyURL: http://tinyurl.com/6qhk4n

  • 25 characters

is.gd: http://is.gd/7oc

  • 16 characters

So there’s a pick-up of 9 characters via is.gd. Can be quite valuable on Twitter, eh?

It doesn’t have a toolbar button, which makes converting URLs really easy with TinyURL. That’d be a nice addition.`

For a nice read on several different URL shorteners, check out Carlo Maglinao’s post on TechBays.

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