June 15, 2022
It’s 2022. And you no longer find yourself navigating work inside files and folders. Your browser is where all the action is — among hundreds of open tabs and thousands of links.
The SaaS revolution has shifted work from local machines to the cloud. There’s an app for almost everything you can imagine. And every piece of work you want to accomplish requires you to open a URL. Be it listing down your tasks in Todoist at the start of the day or mailing in your updates using Gmail at EOD, the A-Z of your workday is made up of links.
And if you’re sometimes forgetful and sometimes absent-minded, as we all are, you spend a good part of your day just trying to find or remember them. Isn’t it?
This is why link management can be a godsend for us, and almost every knowledge-worker I know.
By link management, we mean the ability (and means) to find, access, edit, store, structure, organize, and analyze all the links that an organization uses and shares. This includes both internal links that are accessible only within the organization by its members as well as external links shared outside the organization.
Aren’t we lucky to live in an age where everything we want is mostly a click or a swipe or a tap on our screens away? So is the case with link management.
There are hundreds of link management tools out there that can ease your information woes and make managing links a child’s play for you.
But we know what you’re thinking. Are the benefits of link management software really worth the costs?
Let’s find out!
Here are the top five benefits of using a link management tool for your business
You can often manage your long URLs better by converting them into custom short links for your organization. It’s even better if you can name your links using everyday, easy-to-recall words, instead of confronting random strings of alphanumeric characters in the address bar when you wish to open a page.
Any good link management tool should offer you multiple ways to structure and organize important destination pages:
Do you know how much time you spend everyday just trying to find the information you need at work? Roughly two hours on an average. That’s ten good, productive hours of your work-week down the drain!
Link management tools can cut this unproductive time drastically by providing you with the right information at your fingertips. So that you can focus on work that actually counts. Many of them come with features including tags and enterprise search which are helpful for surfacing relevant resources in much lower time.
Cleaner link organization aids faster information sharing as information becomes easier to find and access. In the absence of a link management platform, teams would be forced to indulge in the wasteful back and forth for links. This can cause unnecessary frustration and impede collaboration.
At OSlash, we extensively use Collections to tackle this problem. Collections are akin to folders of related links with custom access and sharing settings. The collection o/blog for example contains OSlash shortcuts to all our blogs drafted in Google Docs and are accessible by the entire content team. No one needs to ask for the link each time a new blog needs to be edited or published on the website. For us, this has simplified and speeded up collaboration by leaps and bounds.
The best link management tools lend you the power to edit and brand your business links using custom domains and custom slugs (back halves of the URLs). It improves brand recall, especially when your links are being shared externally, say on social media platforms etc.
You also get control over your link data which will be stored securely in your link management tool. You can use it for unlocking helpful insights for business decisions.
Link management software lets you track the links you create and share, unlocking click data that you can use to make better business decisions.
You can use external link tracking and insights to find out if a marketing campaign is getting the expected traction, for example. By adding UTM parameters to links, you can get more detailed website analytics and precisely measure the data coming in from different traffic sources. This is helpful in optimizing your campaigns.
You can also stay in the loop about what’s happening in your own company by tracking internal links. Internal link data can help you discern which links are visited most often and by whom, for instance, showing you how important a particular resource may be for your company.
We hope we’ve answered whether it is worth your time and money to invest in a link management tool.
But if you would like to test the waters before diving in deep and committing to a paid tool, we suggest exploring some free platforms.
Below, let’s walk you through top 10 free (and secure) link management tools for your business in 2022.
You will find comprehensive internal link management tools as well as traditional URL shorteners on the list.
Comprehensive link management for enterprises
As an enterprise link management tool, OSlash allows you and your team to transform clunky URLs into clean, human-readable shortcuts. Naming links using OSlash helps teams of all sizes navigate, manage, and share information at lightning speed.
However, OSlash is not just your run-of-the-mill URL shortener.
Further, you can keep your shortcuts private or share them not just with your team or entire workspace, but also publicly (in external emails, on social media etc.). OSlash offers both custom domains and URLs so you get to retain ownership of your public links. Lastly, shortcut Insights make sure you can track the hits on the shortcuts you created while Trending Shortcuts will keep you in the loop about what’s brewing inside your workspace.
Everything you create, share, and sell online — managed via one link
If you rely extensively on social media (Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and the like) to drive sales for your business, Linktree can be a true savior for you.
It allows you to store multiple links in a single link, by directing people to a common, unified landing page that lists all of your offerings together. So your customers can access each product from a single source.
With the creator economy booming, Linktree has emerged as a popular choice for influencers and digital creators to monetize their passion.
The best part is you can embed unlimited links on the free plan as well. But you won’t be able to get analytics for each individual link unless you upgrade to the paid tier.
A major limitation of Linktree is that the landing page it creates is not the best aesthetically and does not provide many options for customization outside of limited colors, fonts, and images. This can stand in the way of building a solid brand identity and enforcing brand recall, which is one of the main reasons why businesses opt for link management tools.
Synonymous with URL shortening, worldwide
Bitly lets you truncate long URLs into short links that are far easier to share.
It is particularly useful to businesses looking for branding their short links to drive goals such as brand awareness, brand recall, and sales, as branded links tend to be regarded as more trustworthy and drive more clicks. You can use Bitly for
Bitly’s USP is perhaps its strong analytics which give you powerful insights on your link clicks using city and country level data, device-type tracking, and mobile deep link reporting. All these are however accessible only with paid plans.
Also, custom domains and URLs are chargeable on Bitly; the free version will only give you a short link with a string of alphanumeric characters replacing the long URL.
Leading branded URL shortening and management for businesses
Rebrandly is a link management platform ideal for businesses that wish to brand, track and share short URLs using a custom domain name. What differentiates Rebrandly from other branded URL shorteners is that it lets you customize any URL four ways. (We think the emoji add-on is pretty cool!)
Like Bitly, it also offers detailed click tracking to highlight the communications driving the most traffic for your brand, including individual link data as well as aggregated reports. They also offer customized analytics and an in-house UTM builder in your Google Analytics account.
Unlike Bitly however, Rebrandly lets you use multiple custom domain names (up to 5) and share 500 branded links for free.
The only downside we see is that the paid plans can appear to be a steep increase after the free plan and the price of domains is revised every year.
Create and manage short links that never expire
TinyURL claims to empower you with full-scale link management with the ultimate goal of “removing long URLs entirely from your email marketing, social media, or customer communications.”
It is one of the few link management platforms to offer tracking for unlimited links with all paid plans. TinyURL also comes with a simple and straightforward setup. Where it also scores well is in automation — a lot of the functions are automated, especially copying the shortened URL.
The biggest limitation of TinyURL is perhaps the absence of link analytics in the free plan, which we are hoping changes soon.
A custom URL shortener built for marketers
Built and designed specifically for marketers, Linkly is a free custom URL shortener that works on the same principles as Rebrandly.
It lets you track branded links and also retarget users via Facebook Pixel, Twitter Custom Audiences, or any other 3rd party pixel. You can redirect users by country, device or use a link rotator and share mailto links, tel links, and SMS links.
Linkly’s USP lies in three features that set it apart from some of the other traditional URL shorteners on the market.
The free plan, however, lets you track only 1000 clicks/month for a maximum of 250 links, which can be a bummer even for small businesses.
Make your short links smart-er links
As a link management tool, Soxcly’s value lies primarily in allowing you to make your short links smarter, more actionable, and more powerful using features you may not find in some of the other tools on this list.
Here’s what you can do using Soxcly’s forever free version:
The file download feature is unique and can be especially useful for firms betting heavily on lead gen using content marketing. We also like how Soxcly empowers marketers with clickable social cards and third-party website CTAs to drive higher engagement.
The (short) link management platform for agencies
As the name suggests, Sharest is a link management platform that offers something akin to superlative features for managing and sharing your custom short links with the world.
It lets you add all sorts of scripts from any third-party to your links. Which essentially lets you control links you share on the web just as you’d control links shared on your own website! You can embed any of your marketing tools such as calls-to-action, chatbots, videos, email optins, and quizzes into your links. Needless to say, you also have the ability to embed tags and tracking pixels.
Another unique feature is Sharest’s ability to automatically create links (and apply your campaigns) from any RSS feed and send them to your company’s social media platforms or schedulers.
While this is perfect for agencies, the tool has a generous free tier for everyone with unlimited links, unlimited clicks, unlimited scripts, and unlimited pixels.
One of their biggest minus points, though, is the UI/UX which can be pretty complex for beginners to understand (and occasionally requires some coding expertise to figure it out).
The URL shortening API built for developers
Built especially for developers, shorten.rest’s URL shortening API lets you create custom short links from long URLs for a variety of use cases including mobile deep linking, advertising, social media marketing, emails, SMS marketing etc.
You can shorten URLs using one custom/branded domain on the free plan with unlimited branded URLs, unlimited clicks, a UTM builder, and unlimited meta tags.
Unlike Bitly, shorten.rest comes with detailed click tracking by referrer, user agent, browser type, operating system, and country on the free plan too.
There’s a catch though — while the free plan may not have a monthly charge, you’re allowed only 50 API calls/month and will be charged $0.02 per call afterwards.
Personalize and share fully branded short links
Short.io is useful for shortening, personalizing, and sharing your fully branded short URLs.
The free plan lets you have one user account with the ability to manage a total of 5 domains, 1000 branded links, and 50000 link clicks.
Except using advanced targeting features for your links and creating deep links, you can pretty much do everything on the free plan, such as adding UTM parameters to links, updating destination URLs, tagging links, setting up 404 and 301 redirects, using the API to create short links, and more.
If you wish to use it for multiple teams, however, you’ll need to upgrade to a paid account.
After pursuing this list, you may still find yourself wondering what the best link management tool for your business is. And the truth is, there is no right answer. It will depend on what purpose you intend to solve with the tool, who will be using it in your organization, how much you are willing to spend on it, and many other considerations.
Still, we hope this blog has given you a starting point and some helpful cues to get the decision right. In the meantime, if you are struggling with an ocean of links at your workplace, we recommend using OSlash to navigate the waters.
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