26 Aug

There are many tools and applications available to help marketers and content creators produce more quality content, and that includes link shorteners. Whether it’s a blog post, marketing email, or even a YouTube video description, using link shorteners is incredibly useful.

In this article, we are going to take a deeper look into three of the most popular link shorteners Bitly, TinyURL, and BL.INK — and weigh the advantages and disadvantages of each to help marketers and content creators determine which tool is the best for them.

Why use a link shortener?

Let’s go back to the subject of “quality” content for a moment. “Quality” content is well-thought-out and well-written content that solves a reader’s or a prospect’s problem, answers his or her questions, and that also looks clean and organized.

However, many links are long, wordy, and just look messy, but are necessary for SEO purposes. Links help describe the content, but are lengthy and aren’t exactly the easiest to share in emails, on web pages, or on social media. Additionally, short links are also seen as more trustworthy and appear less “spammy” and suspicious to readers and prospects.

This is where a link shortener tool comes in handy… Link shorteners allow users to shorten and “clean up” lengthy URLs. Therefore, over time, link shorteners have become a necessary tool for content creators and marketers to add to their martech stacks. The best link shortener tools allow users to:

Shorten links
Customize and/or brand links
Track performance metrics of each short link
Save space and reduce characters

Which URL shortener is the best? We reviewed three of the most popular, including advantages and disadvantages, to help you determine the right one for you. #marketing #contentmarketing Click To Tweet
How we reviewed each link shortener

To ensure we conduct fair reviews of each tool, we use the following criteria:

Time to get going. How easy is it to set up and use this tool?
Ease of use. How is the user interface designed? How easy is it to use overall?
Feature richness. What features are available? Are the features helpful? Do the features provide value for the cost?
Price. How much does the platform cost? What is the overall cost versus value?

At the end of this article, we will provide an overall grade and declare a “winner” link shortener tool.

Deep-dive review of popular link shorteners: Bitly
1. Deep-dive review: Bitly

When marketers think of a URL shortener, Bitly is likely the first tool to come to mind. Bitly is one of the most popular link shorteners available today and has been reigning the market since 2008. Not only is Bitly super-easy to use, but it also provides marketers with various other features.

Bitly pros:

Feature richness. There is a lot to love about Bitly. Bitly is far more than just a link shortener, it also provides users and marketers with the ability to create custom and encrypted short links, review data and analytics related to the number of clicks your Bitly short links generated, and also integrate Bitly with other tools and apps, such as social media and other digital marketing dashboards. All in all, Bitly rates a 5 out of 5 on the “feature richness” scale.

Time to get going. Additionally, Bitly is easy to set up and start using, even if you have never used a link shortener before. It only takes a few minutes to set up an account and begin using Bitly.

Although using Bitly is very straightforward, they also offer a “Bitly 101” user guide, resources, videos, and other materials to help users make the most out of this five-star link shortener tool.

Ease of use. As mentioned in the point above, it takes minutes to set up an account and begin using Bitly. Simply sign up and start “shortening.” Additionally, the other Bitly features are also incredibly easy to use and intuitive, even for the most basic users or marketer.
Bitly cons:

Price. One of the biggest downsides to using Bitly is cost. Although Bitly does offer a free plan, it is very limited. It only allows users to create up to 1,000 short links per month. For some users, this might be enough. It allows users to shorten links, but that’s it. If you want link management, data and analytics, and other Bitly robust features, then a paid plan is necessary. Bitly pricing plans start at $29 per month. There are also high-level, enterprise plans available at a custom price.

Grade: A (3.98 out of 5 possible points)

Deep-dive review of popular link shorteners: TinyURL
2. Deep-dive review: TinyURL

TinyURL is another link shortener tool with a very different look and feel from Bitly. In fact, TinyURL became available before Bitly. This tool is best for users who just need to generate short links on occasion, and don’t really have a use for advanced link management or tracking features.

TinyURL pros:

Time to get going. Seconds. TinyURL is easy and free to use and does not require users to sign up for an account to use it. Users can simply copy and paste a long link into the link shortener box, and click “Make TinyURL.” That’s it.

Ease of use. TinyURL is very straightforward and easy to use. Users need little guidance, resources or set-up time to start using this link shortener. Simply enter a long link into the box and click the “Make TinyURL” button. Users can also create custom tiny URLs without an account.

Feature richness. Although TinyURL’s user interface is a bit dated, we were actually surprised to discover what features were available — even for free. In addition to a browser extension, and creating custom tiny URLs, users also have the ability to preview custom links and set up URL redirects.

Price. TinyURL is 100 percent free.
TinyURL cons:

Feature richness. Although we listed “feature richness” as a pro, and TinyURL offers several beneficial features even as a free tool, it does not offer any type of link management or analytics features, which can be super useful and valuable for marketers.

Although TinyURL allows you to create up to a billion redirects each month, it doesn’t provide users with any performance data related to those links. This could be a huge disadvantage to marketers who need to track performance for each short link.

TinyURL was originally designed in 2002, and the website and user interface certainly looks like it. The UI is definitely lacking and dated, which could be a con for many users. However, as a free tool, we can’t really expect the world.

All in all, TinyURL is best for marketers or users who simply need to create a short link when necessary, and don’t really use them on a regular basis, or have a need to commit to setting up an account or paying for a tool.

Grade: B+ (3.58 out of 5 possible points)

Deep-dive review of popular link shorteners: BL.INK
3. Deep-dive review: BL.INK

BL.INK is another robust link shortener tool. BL.INK’s tagline is “more than just a link shortener,” and they are certainly right. BL.INK allows marketers and users to take link shortening to a whole new level.

Although BL.INK and Bitly are designed with similar features and functionalities, which we will review in this deep dive section, BL.INK takes it one step further by offering domain registration services, full campaign management features complete with integrated reporting as well as security features and advanced user management features.

BL.INK pros:

Time to get going. Although BL.INK does require a user account to get going, it doesn’t force you to enter a credit card or form of payment, which is a huge plus, especially for users who want to stick with the “freemium” version.

After setting up an account, BL.INK is relatively easy to use. Users might get a little caught up in exploring the various options and features, but to grab a tiny URL is easy and can be done within only a few minutes of exploring the tool.

Feature richness. BL.INK certainly wins this category. As we mentioned briefly above, BL.INK offers a number of useful and valuable features, particularly for marketers, such as robust link tracking, campaign management, which includes the ability to track performance across multiple platforms. It also allows users to brand their links, which is a huge plus. Users can even add notes relevant to specific links for yourself or team members.

BL.INK is also designed with open API access as well as a list of security features and configurations for users with strict compliance requirements, including audit logs and tiered user access permissions.

Ease of use. After reading a handful of customer reviews, users rave about BL.INK. In many reviews, users claim that BL.INK far exceeds their expectations in terms of available features, functionality, and ease of use.
BL.INK cons:

Price. BL.INK offers both a free plan as well as several paid plans. There is an “Expert” plan available at $12/month, a “Small Business” plan at $99/month, various “Team” plans at $299/month and a “Business” plan at $599/month. There is also an “Enterprise” plan available at a custom price. Many users feel that the “Enterprise” plan is a bit overkill; the majority of users can see value from BL.INK’s basic features at a fraction of the cost.

All in all, BL.INK is relatively affordable and offers a wide range of plans, which appeals to a wide range of audiences. This way, users aren’t stuck paying for features they don’t necessarily need.

Grade: A+ (4.35 out of 5 possible points)
The “winning” link shortener tool is…

All in all, there are a number of link shortener tools available today. However, we have narrowed them down to the top three that we think are best for individual content creators, marketers, and small or startup businesses.

Link shortener comparison chart of Bitly, TinyURL and BL.INK


After reviewing each of these link shortener tools, and admitting that they each have their own unique strengths, we find that BL.INK is the best option for quickly creating short links and full campaign and link tracking. BL.INK also offers a number of plans so users and marketers are bound to find the best-fit plan for them without paying for features they don’t need.


This is where BL.INK took the lead over Bitly. Bitly only offers one paid plan option and the next level above it is a custom “enterprise” plan, which may be overkill. Therefore, we declare BL.INK as the link shortener “winner.”



Q1. What is WebLink?

WebLink is a next generation application delivery platform for in-vehicle infotainment. It leverages the power of the phone to deliver driver relevant applications to the in-vehicle displays (car radios) in a safe manner. WebLink enabled applications run on the smartphone and are "projected" to the in-vehicle systems.

Q2. How can I find what applications are compatible with my car radio?

Download the WebLink Host application from the app store onto your smartphone (Apple App Store or Google Play Store) and connect your phone to a compatible WebLink car radio. Once the connection between the phone and car radio is established, the car radio will pass it's identity to WebLink and the corresponding apps will be displayed in the "Apps" tab of the WebLink Host application which is available when the phone is not connected to a car radio. When the WebLink Host app is launched and connected to the car radio, the WebLink home screen on the car radio will show the compatible app icons. App compatibility may vary by car radio.

Q3. How do I discover if my car radio is WebLink compatible?

Look for a WebLink certified logo on your product's packaging or in the owner's manual of your vehicle. If your understanding is that you have a compatible WebLink car radio, connect your phone to the car radio via the correct USB connection as described in the car radio manufacturer and launch the WebLink Host application on your phone. If the car radio is compatible, the WebLink connection should be established and the phone screen and car radio should indicated that WebLink is started.

Q4. What phones are supported by WebLink?

  • iPhones with iOS version 13.0 and above are supported by WebLink.
  • Android phones with Android version 7.0 and above are supported. Please note that only Android certified phones are supported by WebLink as listed in the following site:
  • Smartphone must have a hardware video decoder
  • Minimum Smartphone CPU: 1.5GHz Dual Core
  • Minimum Smartphone RAM: 2GB

Q5. Why don't I have access to a certain app?

Each car radio has a unique set of applications which are defined by the car radio manufacturer. It is possible that new applications will become available to you at a later time. If you have any suggestions on specific apps you'd like to see compatible with WebLink, please send us a message.

Q6. I have a certified WebLink car radio and a supported smartphone, but WebLink won't launch when the phone is connected to the car radio. How can I use WebLink?

We suggest following these steps:

  1. Start by reading the owners manual supplied by the car radio or car manufacturer of your WebLink compatible unit.  
  2. Ensure you have downloaded the WebLink Host application on your smartphone.
  3. If it's the first time you've launched the application, please be sure to read and accept the WebLink Host app terms of use prior to connecting to the car radio.
  4. Connect your iPhone or Android device to the car radio using a certified USB cable. Be sure to connect the the phone to the correct USB input as described by youre WebLink compatible car radio/car manufacturer's owners manual.
  5. Some car radios may require you to adjust the settings in their menu to enable WebLink. Be sure the WebLink settings are enabled on the car radio as described in your owners manual. 
  6. Make sure your phone is unlocked when connecting to the car radio. For security purposes, the apps will not project onto the car radio if the phone screen is locked. 

Q7. How do I add more WebLink compatible apps?

Each car radio manufacturer decides what applications are compatible with their car radios. Abalta and our customers area always looking for applications which are of interest to drivers.

Q8. I only see a black screen on my car radio when I launch WebLink on my phone. How can I get apps to show up properly?

  1. Confirm that you have a WebLink compatible car radio. 
  2. Make sure you have the correct WebLink Host application downloaded from the app store and installed on your phone.
  3. Launch the WebLink Host app on your phone and connect your phone via USB to the correct USB port described by your car radio manufacturer. 

Note:  Be sure to use an authorized and certified USB cable as often 3rd party cables are not suitable for use with WebLink.

Q9. The WebLink Weather app won't show me weather information?

Be sure to give WebLink access to your location so that it can provide you with weather data around your location. Check the permission settings of your phone to grant WebLink access.

Q10. When I launch the Music Player application, why don't my music tracks show up in the search results?

Be sure to give WebLink access to your Media so that it can access your music content from your phone. Check the permission settings of your phone to grant WebLink access.

Q11. When I launch the Video Player application, why don't my video tracks show up in the search results?

Be sure to give WebLink access to your Camera Roll so that it can access your video content from your phone. Check the permission settings of your phone to grant WebLink access.

Q12. Why won't my smartphone establish a connection with the headunit?

Please see below for common connection troubleshooting tips:

  1. Confirm that the head unit that you are connecting to is compatible with WebLink. Refer to your head unit or automobile's owners manual for compatibility and/or directions to establish initial connection.
  2. Ensure that you have downloaded the WebLink Host application on your smartphone.
  3. If this is the first time that you have launched the application, please be sure to read and accept the WebLink Host app “Terms of Use” prior to connecting to the car radio.
  4. Ensure that you are using an official USB cable from the smartphone or head unit manufacturer. Third party cables are not always capable of video projection.
  5. Ensure that the USB cable is connected to the correct USB port on the head unit. Some head units require that your cable be connected to a specific USB port.
  6. Do not use frayed or damaged USB cables. This might result in increased data loss that prevents the establishment of a WebLink connection.
  7. Ensure that you are not using a USB hub or extender between the phone and head unit.
  8. Some car radios may require that you adjust the settings in the menu to enable WebLink.  Be sure that the WebLink settings are enabled on your car radio as described in your owner’s manual.
  9. Make sure that your phone is unlocked when connecting to the car radio.  For security purposes, the apps will not project on to the head unit if the phone screen is locked.

You can also try a Force Stop of the WebLink App and try connecting again.  (Settings -> Apps -> WebLink -> Force Stop)

  • HeadUnit Model
  • Phone Model 
  • Phone Operating System version
  • WebLink Host App version
  • Messaging that displays on both the Phone and Headunit when attempting to connect
  • Method used to connect the phone to the headunit:  Bluetooth, WiFi or USB cable
  • Any additional information that may help to troubleshoot your issue, including exact steps to replicate the problem and/or video or screenshots if possible.  
  • It also helps to know if you have ever had a successful connection in the past.

Q13. How do I change the language in WebLink?

WebLink uses the language which you have set on your smartphone. To change the language, please go to the settings on your smartphone and change the language to your preferred language. If WebLink does not support the language which your phone is set to, it will default to English.

Q14. My WebLink headunit supports WebLink Cast. What version of iOS and Android is supported?

  • WebLink Cast requires Android 7.0+ and iOS 13+.
  • Touch control for WebLink Cast with iOS version 13.4 and above requires the WebLink Host app version 2.5.1 from the Apple App Store and the WebLink Client SDK version 2.5.1 on your headunit.
  • You can confirm the WebLink Host app version by checking the version number in the Apple App Store and ensuring that you have installed 2.5.1 or later version.
  • Some headunits may require a firmware update to include support for the WebLink Client SDK version 2.5.1. If your headunit currently does not support touch control with iOS 13.4 or above, please contact your headunit manufacturer for availability.
  • For iOS, please also ensure that the AssistiveTouch setting in the iPhone is set to ON and the "Perform Touch Gestures" settings is set to ON and the "Dwell Control" settings is set to OFF. On your iPhone visit Settings -> Accessibility -> Touch -> AssistiveTouch (ON) -> Performance Touch Gesture (ON) -> Dwell Control (OFF).

Q15. When using WebLink Cast with an iPhone and the iPhone's home screen is projecting to the headunit, why do the icons wiggle and go into rearrange mode when I try to swipe to the next Home screen page of the iPhone?

  • To avoid entering into the app icon rearrange mode of the iOS Home screen while in Cast, do not swipe on the app icons to access the next page of apps. Instead swipe in a blank space of the home screen or swipe on the bottom portion of the iOS Home screen over the dots indicating the Home pages. 
  • Please also ensure that the AssistiveTouch setting in the iPhone is set to ON and the "Perform Touch Gestures" settings is set to ON and the "Dwell Control" settings is set to OFF. On your iPhone visit Settings -> Accessibility -> Touch -> AssistiveTouch (ON) -> Performance Touch Gesture (ON) -> Dwell Control (OFF).

Q16. When I connect my smartphone to my headunit, I see an error code message on the headunit screen. What does it mean?

  • If you see an error code message on the headunit screen, it means the app is having issues connecting to the WebLink server. This can either be caused by an internet connectivity issue or an issue with the WebLink Backend server. Check your internet connection or try the connection again later.

Q17. What is Genius Maps and how can I use this application with WebLink?

  • Genius Maps is a premium navigation application for iOS and Android developed by Mireo which is now compatible with certain WebLink enabled headunits. Starting in Genius Maps version 3.0.5, you can now enable a full navigation experience with WebLink. You will need to download the application to your iOS or Android device, make an in-app purchase to activate the "Navigation Pack for WebLink" and begin enjoying all of the features safely while driving. To confirm if your WebLink enabled headunit supports Genius Maps, please visit the "Apps" tab of the WebLink Host app while disconnected to the headunit or visit the WebLink Home screen when connected to your compatible headunit. If the Genius Maps app is listed in the "Apps" tab or the app icon is displayed on the WebLink Home screen, Genius Maps is compatible with your headunit. For complete details including a Fact Sheet and Installation Guide, visit: 

Q18. What languages are supported by Genius Maps?

  • Genius Maps supports the following user interface languages: Arabic, Azerbaijan, Czech, Deutsch, English UK, Estonian,Greek, Spanish, French, Croatian, Italian, Netherlands, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian,Russian, Slovak, Vietnamese, Turkish, Ukrainian
  • Genius Maps supports the following voice guidance languages: Arabic, Chinese, Czech, Danish, Dutch, English, Flemish,French, German, Greek, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Turkish

Q19. Why doesn't the Music app on my iPhone play audio when using WebLink Cast?

  • This is a known limitation of the Cast feature. Audio from the Native Music app goes silent at the moment Cast is started. Other music applications continue to output audio over Bluetooth and USB.

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