Find Out Which URL Shortener is Worth Integrating With Your App – Here are The Best Free APIs Currently Available.
The URL shortener was invented by TinyURL in 2002.
Since then, the history of URL shorteners has followed the evolution of the Web, and thousands of URL shortening services have been created. Most of them have the same features (like analytics) and are just copies of the same product, but a few are worth a special mention.
The Top 8 URL Shortener APIs
(in No Particular Order)
The following list includes the most trusted, reliable and innovative URL shorteners with a freely accessible API:
REBRANDLY API (Brand your links)
“Your Brand on your Links”
With Rebrandly you can use a custom domain name to create short URLs. You can register a domain name directly with Rebrandly and start shortening all your links in minutes, without any tech knowledge.
- Main features: Can use multiple dedicated domains; Analytics (basic); Deep links; Retargeting on links; Editable destination URL, SSL, UTM builder.
- PRO: Great tool if you want to share links that contains your brand (dedicated domain name); Free; Simple to use.
- CONS: Analytics are basic.
- API page: https://developers.rebrandly.com
GOO.GL API (The best analytics you can get for free)
“Simplify your links”
This is the URL shortener created by Google, and it focused simply on the essential. Fast and easy to use, it offers the best analytics you can get with a free tool.
- Main features: Analytics (basic).
- PROS: Completely free.
- CONS: Cannot edit the destination URL; Cannot use your unique domain to create short links (unless you use a trick).
- API page: https://developers.google.com/url-shortener
YOURLS API (Install on your server)
“Your Own URL Shortener”
This is a small set of PHP scripts that allow you to run your own URL shortening service. Practically, it has to be installed onto your server.
- Main features: Analytics (good).
- PROS: Can be installed on your server; Completely free.
- CONS: You need to pay for the hosting of this application and maintain your server(s) reliability; It’s difficult to scale in case you need to redirect a great number of clicks.
- API page: http://yourls.org/#API
CLICKMETER API (Most complete features)
“Get the most from your links”
Monitor, compare and optimize all your marketing links in one place to increase the conversion rate. You can choose between the free and pro version (starting at $19/month).
- Main features: Analytics (excellent); Deep links; Multiple redirect options (by language, by country, by device, …); Conversion tracking; Retargeting on links; Can use multiple dedicated domains; Destination URL monitoring; Editable destination URL, SSL, UTM builder.
- PROS: Most complete in terms of features; Each account can scale up to 1,000,000 clicks per month; 99,99% uptime guaranteed.
- CONS: Free version is just for a low level of monthly clicks, then you have to pay based on the traffic you track.
- API page: http://clickmeter.com/api
“Unleash the power of the link”
Probably the most known URL shortener. There are many millions of bitlinks created with the extension bit.ly or j.mp. They have a free version and a pro version (starting at $499/month).
- Main features: Analytics (basic); Deep links; One dedicated domain.
- PROS: The most integrated URL shortener that can easily be used in connection with many other apps and services.
- CONS: Cannot edit the destination URL; Cannot create more than one short link with the same destination URL.
- API page: https://dev.bitly.com
OWLY API (Easy to use)
“Make your links manageable”
This is the short URL generator created by Hootsuite. It’s the simplest URL shortener available on the web.
- Main features: Analytics (basic).
- PROS: Completely free; Very simple to use; Easily integrated inside HootSuite.
- CONS: Does not have any features except for the URL shortening.
- API page: http://ow.ly/api-docs
SHORTE.ST API (Monetize your shares)
“Smart and easy way to get extra income from your traffic”
When you create links with this shortener, an extra advertising layer is added to the destination page. When visitors click on the ad you make money.
- Main features: Monetization system.
- PRO: Earn money while sharing short links – Great for affiliate marketers.
- CONS: The links look spammy.
- API page: https://shorte.st/howitworks
SNIPLY API (CTA for your links)
“The call to action for your links”
Sniply adds your custom call-to-action to any page on the web, allowing you to engage your followers through every link you share.
- Main features: Call-to-action in the destination page; Retargeting; Editable destination URL; Basic Analytics.
- PRO: Increase the conversion rate of your links and your brand awareness with the small snap you show on the destination page.
- CONS: The free version is very limited (only 1,000 clicks/month), and the paid version starts from $29/month; No Conversion tracking; It cannot be used with the most important websites (Twitter, Amazon, Google, Linkedin etc…) because these websites do not allow external framing.
- API page: https://snip.ly/api/v2
Some other notable mentions are X.CO (by Godaddy); ADFLY (Earn money for each visitor to your shortened links with) and TINYURL. These are great services, but unfortunately, they do not offer public free API.
When talking about short URLs, there are many possibilities to use mature redirect and tracking engines. While it may seem easy to redirect links and to track the basic stats on your clicks, it is actually difficult (and expensive) to create and maintain a system in a way that is fast, scalable and most importantly, reliable.
Today you can benefit from services offering these services for free, or for a small price. These companies manage millions of links and billions of clicks every month, so they know all the best practices and offer the best and most reliable service.
So, do you have any other free API shorteners you’d like to add to our list? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.
Originally Posted: 15th October 2016
Last Updated: 7th September 2017