How to Choose the Right URL Shortener

Choosing the right partners is important. Period. In sports, in relationships, and business.  Taking that one step further, picking the right tools and vendors to support your company is especially essential.  However, I’d wager that of those tools you choose, one of the most important to get right from the beginning is whom you choose for managing your marketing links – your link management provider.    

As anyone who was previously using Prourls, or even Google’s goo.gl link shorteners, is likely to share, it’s a massive pain in the butt to have to change up workflows and standard operating procedures when a tool you depend on is no longer available. It’s even worse to have to drop everything to update links because your previous choice didn’t have a contingency plan.  And, just infuriating to know that a service you were using lacked the forethought and planning and this could ultimately jeopardize everything you’ve been working towards (see again, Prourls).  

A little upfront work should save you a lot of time and heartache in the long term.  Below are a few things to consider when evaluating not only tools / SaaS companies in general but link management providers in particular.  

When a link management tool goes dark, a cascading series of events can come to haunt you.  Here are a few:   

Support Becomes Unreachable
From what we’ve seen, support is one of the first things to go when a company’s management is distracted.  While this can be a temporary annoyance at times, it can be a nightmare when you need help before a major deadline, and things aren’t working as you expect them to. 

Downtime Increases and Performance Decreases
Software needs to be maintained – logs rolled, databases cleaned up, servers restarted, patches installed, etc.  Sometimes a system can be ignored for a few weeks or months, but in our expert opinion, no modern software can be “set it” and (completely) “forget it.” When something inopportune happens within the software or infrastructure, it’s often only a matter of time before it drags everything else down.  

Links Are Sticky So Choose Wisely 
Updating links across your website can be done relatively quickly with some regex or a good find/replace hack.  Updating links across your YouTube channel can be much more time consuming (but tools like TubeBuddy or our YouTube Link Optimizer tool can help).  Unfortunately, links shared via tweets or Facebook posts aren’t accessible to edit and the whole tweet /post will have to be deleted.  Links in emails? Not much, you can do there besides cross your fingers. You put significant trust into a link management tool, whether you realize it or not. It’s often after the fact, when everything feels like it’s going wrong, that you understand how much trust you (inadvertently) put into that tool. 

Your Links Can Get Hijacked  
Broken links are bad, but redirecting to malware is even worse.  While this is an extreme situation, it does happen (as we recently saw with Prourls).  You need to keep an eye on your links, even if it is periodically just going back to older content that you have posted and clicking around.  Catching issues, like slow redirects or redirecting to the wrong place, sooner than later, can save your brand from embarrassment or worse.  

What To Look For:

While there are several factors you likely rely on to find a partner/vendor, we’ve listed out a few crucial factors to consider when looking into a link management platform.  

1/ Price (you get what you pay for)  

From our perspective, one of the main drivers for growth with Prourls was their generous free plan, and low cost paid plan.  While this likely worked well to drive growth, they can lead to challenges with cash flow and create an unsustainable business.  Unlike other SaaS services, a business owner might use, where the service going under can be annoying, the failure or closure of a link management service can cripple your business as mentioned above.  

When you pay a fair price for the service you are using, then you are helping ensure their long term success, which then provides you a foundation for your long term success when using your service.  

If a business isn’t sustainable and the team that empowers it doesn’t feel like they are getting compensated fairly for their efforts then it’s only a matter of time before their attention wanders, and things start going downhill.      

2/ Social Media Presence 

From a service’s website, you can often find links to their preferred social profiles.  Check these out as they often leave clues as to how much the team is leaning in.  

Checking to see how often they post can be helpful, but it’s more insightful to check to see when the last time they responded to an inquiry via social media. It’s often an obvious indicator that a service is out to pasture when they haven’t posted in quite some time and have multiple users asking for help or pointing out issues with no responses from the company. 

3/ Responsiveness 

You can also get a glimpse at the heartbeat of a company by pinging their support with a meaningful question and seeing how long it takes until you get a legitimate response. Don’t base your evaluation on an autoresponder or bot that gives generic info, but rather see how long it took to get a genuine response from a person.  Did they follow through on their promise about how soon they would respond? How was their attitude when they did respond?    

4/ Social Proof 

Does the link management service have testimonials on their website?  If they do, dig just a bit further. Do those people who recommend the service actually use the service?  Can you see the links at work across the user’s website or social media? It’s too easy for a service to fake testimonials to show on their site, so don’t fall for it.  

5/ Long Term Thinking 

Is the company looking at the bigger picture and planning accordingly?  One way to gauge this is to check the expiration of their website domain and the domain they provide for their short URLs.  Is their domain only registered to the end of the year?  

6/ Team  

Does the service readily share who is behind the company?  Full names? Links to their LinkedIn profiles? This basic information about the leadership of a company is a good start as it shows people are putting their personal reputations on the line.  A service that has an about page that is entirely devoid of the team (or company) powering it should be a red flag.  

A link to LinkedIn can provide even more information about the company.  Is the person listed on the About Us page still actually work for the company?  How many people are listed as working for the company, according to LinkedIn?   

7/ Changelog 

Is the service releasing a significant new feature at least once a year?  Or, has it been stagnant for some time? Transparency is important, and a blog will often carry information about significant releases and can help gauge the speed at which they are moving ahead (or fading away).  

However, the real goldmine is finding a service’s changelog. This should list more mundane updates, including bug fixes. 

Bugs are a reality of software so don’t gauge a service on having bugs but instead on how regularly they are fixed.  Seeing a regular cadence of updates, even if they are just bug fixes, in a changelog is an excellent indicator that the team behind the service cares about their product and is actively putting effort into making it the best service it can be.  

How Geniuslink Stacks Up 

Should you trust Geniuslink for your links? That’s a great question and a question every single one of our clients should consider before diving into our service.  First, you can check the obvious items mentioned above.

Conclusion

Early in my education, I learned the “Seven Ps” applied to lots of different aspects of life and I think they apply perfectly when choosing a partner, as well. 

Oh, what are the “Seven P’s?” Glad you asked: 

Proper Preparation and Planning Prevents Piss Poor Performance.  

 

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