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8 Best Free URL Shortener APIs for Creating Your Short Links

Find Out Which URL Shortener is Worth Integrating With Your App – Here are The Best Free APIs Currently Available.

The first URL shortener was created in 2002 to shorten links for the now famous social network, Twitter. As the world became more digitally focused, the link shortener became a widely accepted service for a variety of marketing activities. 

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.

url shortener api

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The Top 8 URL Shortener APIs

The following list includes the most trusted, reliable and innovative free URL shortener APIs:

rebrandly 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. With 20,000+ developers already using Rebrandly, it’s the most used platform by developers looking to use short URLs with their own domain on their apps. For more on the differences between short links and links containing your domain, check out this short video

  • Main features: Can use multiple dedicated domains; Analytics; Deep links; Retargeting on links; Editable destination URL, SSL, UTM builder. 
  • PRO: Great tool if you want to share links that contain your brand (dedicated domain name); Free; Simple to use.
  • CONS: Most advanced features and large scale link creation require paid plans. Use this form to get a customized quote. 
  • Rebrandly API page

 

googl api
GOO.GL API (The best analytics you can get for free)

PLEASE NOTE – Google URL Shortener will be shutting down its services March 30th, 2019. Current users will not be able to access the platform after this date, but all links created will continue to redirect. 

“Simplify your links”

This is the URL shortener created by Google (Goo.gl), and it focused simply on the essential. Fast and easy to use, it offers the best analytics you can get with a free tool. Since this service is shutting down in a few months, check out this article for alternatives and what to do next. 

  • 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).
  • Goo.gl API Page

 

yourls api

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. It has to be installed onto your server. Yourls is difficult to maintain and is not scalable unless you have a dedicated team of engineers focused on this project as well as many servers. 

  • 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.
  • Yourls API Page

 


CLICKMETER API (Includes conversion tracking)

“Get the most from your links”

Monitor, compare and optimize all your marketing links in one place to increase the conversion rate. 

  • 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 1,000,000,000 clicks per month; 99,99% uptime guaranteed.
  • CONS: WIth the $19 version there is a low level of monthly clicks, then you have to pay based on the traffic you track.
  • Clickmeter API page

 

bitly api

BITLY 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; Cannot use API for commercial purposes 
  • Bitly API Page

 

owly api
OWLY API (Easy to use)

“Make your links manageable”

Owly 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. Must be a Hootsuite user to use this URL shortener. 
  • Owly API Page

shortest api
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.
  • Shorte.st API Page

 

sniply-api-short-url
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.
  • Sniply API Page

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.

Final Thoughts

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 low 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.

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.

url shortener api

Integrate short URLs into your app

Explore the Rebrandly API

Learn more

 

Further Reading:

This Article is About:

  • Short URL API
  • URL shortener API
  • Bitly API
  • Link shortener API
  • Tiny URL API
  • Google URL shortener API
  • Google shortener API
  • Goo.gl API
  • Godaddy API integration
  • Google URl shortener analytics integtation
  • 短網址 API
  • Free API 

Originally Posted: 15th October 2016
Last Updated: 14 February 2019

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Davide De Guz
Founder at Rebrandly and CEO at ClickMeter, he has more than 15 years of experience in Internet business as entrepreneur and top consultant. He is the author of many articles regarding Internet and new technologies