Hot URL Summer: Using Bit.ly Free to Create Easy to use URLs

Want to learn how to make shortened URLs to make your links easier? Check out this primer for Bit.ly's free service. We go over some of the basics on how to create links and what else you can view from the dashboard.

Bit.ly is a commonly used service for creating shorter links for ease of sharing. While bit.ly offers a lot of related features, even the free version includes a basic 30 day history and reporting for the links you create. In this article, we go over some of the basics of how to use bit.ly to make shorter links and view the history on those links.

How to sign up for a free Bit.ly account

Try out the free version by going to bit.ly and signing up. First, click either the “get started for free” or the “pricing” link located at the top of the page. That brings you to a page with feature comparisons for the different account levels. Next, scroll down to find the chart that includes the free version. Click the “get started” link at the top of that column.

Create a username and strong password. Be sure to store this information securely so you can gain access to this account in the future.

Once you verify your email, you’ll be able to start creating links. Feel free to bookmark app.bit.ly for quick access to the bit.ly dashboard.

The create link button is hard to miss. You can find the bright orange button at the top middle or when first starting out, in the links section on the left. The second button will disappear after you create your first link.

The link creation window will appear on the right. It has limited options, but is easy to use. Start by copying and pasting the long version of your link in the space provided. If you receive an invalid link error, make sure your link starts with http:// or https:// and that the link itself is complete.

Once you add your link you can add a few attributes. You can change the back half of the bit.ly URL to something more readable. (Note: this function is limited to 50 per month on the free account).

If you plan to add a lot of links, you should start tagging right away. That way you can easily access click information on your relevant tags. Just type in your desired tag(s) and hit enter. I used tags for media type (blog, video) and topic (security, communication). Feel free to utilize your own organization system.

Don’t forget to hit that save button. Once complete, you are ready to start sharing your links. Copy and paste to wherever is most useful and check back in later for use details.

After your links have been created and clicked, your bit.ly dashboard will start to get more information. As default you will get an overview chart at the top. You can toggle what information is shown in the top left. Additionally, change the date range by clicking the dates in the upper right corner.

To get more details about a certain link, find the link by using the search function at the top or scrolling your list on the left. For a better view, click the hide chart tab in the center of the page.

The details information will show a chart of clicks over time. Scroll down to see more information about origin of clicks. In the picture below you can see that all the clicks in my example so far have come from direct links and from users in the United States.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is bitly-free-7-700x392.png

Additional features to explore

Bit.ly free version also allows integrations with some marketing applications as well as direct tie ins with your twitter account. Explore these features, and find ways to make your page links easier for your clickers to digest. This can be a useful tool in getting your pages, videos, etc. to be used more. These frequently clicked URLs on fire, so be prepared for a hot URL summer.

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