Bit.ly is a free service, with which you can shorten long URL’s. The company is headquartered in New York and was founded by Peter Stern in 2008.
With 46% usage, the URL shortener bit-ly is currently the market leader in this field and has recently overtaken its competitor Tinyurl.com. Responsible for this jump was the message from Twitter that bit.ly was now the default service for the shortening of long Internet addresses. At the same time, Twitter forms the central background for the emergence of URL Shorteners since a Tweet cannot be longer than 140 characters. Each character counts and every character in a URL as well. Profiles on Google+ are often characterized by long rows of numbers and can be shortened by a URL shortener.
Bit.ly uses certain algorithms to convert a long link into a short one. Based on hash codes, a short link is created which clearly refers by a URI to the respective Internet address. The long link is reduced to a short link, whereby the URI is an intermediate step that the director is assigned to a single URL. Users can see only the short link, but not the URI.
Links can be shortened without registration at bit.ly, but will only be available for a certain period of time and click statistics will also not be provided. Therefore, if you want to inform yourself about user behavior, registration is required before shortening a link. Once you established a profile at bit-ly, you can shorten the first link. You simply copy the URL, place it into the search field of the bit.ly website and click “Shorten.” Subsequently a much shorter URL will be displayed, which can be copied and used with a single click on “copy.”
The way it works is relatively simple. Bit.ly saves the entered link and links it with a newly created short link. If you now click the short link, you will be redirected to the stored Internet address. Bit.ly counts the clicks and displays statistics that can be viewed on request. But as already mentioned, these are only available if you have first registered. Bit.ly also offers an option of entering speaking URL's. The hash code at the end of a URL can be freely selected. You can use letters and numbers. A link that directs to a fictitious document called “Example,” would look like this:
In order to see the click statistics in real-time, you would go to the address bit.ly/info/Example. Recently, more features such the bookmark service “bitmark” and an iphone app were introduced.
The use of bit.ly is not recommended in all cases as any such shortened link initially directs to a bit.ly server and from there then to the actual Internet address. Unlike users, a crawler does not reach the destination page, but the servers of bit.ly. And users take a detour to get to the URL that has been shortened by bit.ly. In the field of SEO such redirects should be treated with caution, since some of the link juice of the original links may be lost. Google does state, however, that not too much link power is lost by using URL short link services. It is necessary to decide whether a certain link is to be crawled and indexed or whether it is worthwhile to shorten a particular link in individual cases.