Google are not afraid to try out new services and then just as quickly decide to stop providing them. That can be a good thing, as they are always trying to push the product range to be as relevant and future prospecting as possible.
Google first launched Google Maps back in 2005 and received lots of “why are they doing that?’ comments, 13 years down the line...who doesn’t at some point use Google Maps, their app is far better than any of the in car systems, hence the popularity of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. It gives you the address, pictures inside and out, opening times, directions, links to website and provides reviews of the location…..so pretty darn useful.
That’s not to say all their tests have garnered such success, a good example would be their foray into the world of social media with Google Plus, essentially now merged into Google My Business and for all intense purposes a dead social platform. Yes people use it but it was never going to threaten Facebook and more specific social media platforms have galloped ahead, such as Instagram and Pinterest.
But one of things that they (in our humble opinion) also got right was Google Url Shortener or Goo.gl. This free service allows you to take any url and get a unique, shortened version of that url and provides you with some easily accessible analytics which tell you, how many clicks over time, where the link was clicked from, what browser was used, what platform and from what country. All rather useful info to have especially if you’re not familiar with Google Analytics.
But now Google has said…’No more!’
Top 5 alternatives
So what are the alternatives, well worry not as all is not lost. Here are the top 5 free URL shortener services.
Tinturl - https://tinyurl.com/
Is.GD - https://is.gd/
Bit.do - http://bit.do/
Bitly - https://bitly.com/
OWly - https://hootsuite.com/pages/owly - now integrated into Hootsuite
Now one thing that all the above do that goo.gl never did is allow you to create a custom url of your shortened link. This is a great feature as long as you are happy to have the first part of the url visible i.e. bit.ly/
So for example if you wanted to shorten this url https://developers.googleblog.com/2018/03/transitioning-google-url-shortener.html
You could shrink it to just bit.ly/shortgoogleurls all neat and tidy. This becomes very useful when you want to put it on say a promotional piece of work or merchandising where printed real estate is limited.
So which is best.
Well of all these we think bit.ly is the best, it’s interface is the nicest and the analytics is quick to access. The other sites with the exception of Ow.ly all look a bit old and tired now, they aren’t responsive so not great for making shortened urls on the go.
If you are looking for a more integrated system then Hootsuite is the clear choice as it offers control of all your social media platforms with a shortened url feature thrown into the mix. So technically it can't win a little survey panel here as it isn't just a url shortener anymore.
So what happens now
From April 13th 2018 if you've already got a goo.gl account you will be able to carry on creating urls and view your analytics until March 2019 when the service will be closed. Your created links will always keep working but otherwise as bugs bunny would say…..’That’s all folks!’