Link tracking has been around since the beginning of the web. After all, links are the lifeblood of the Google search algorithm. So it’s no surprise that ecommerce businesses need to track links effectively.
One of the ways they do that is by using link shorteners, which convert long URLs into something more manageable and unique.
But how you use a link shortener can vary depending on your role in digital marketing. In my experience, there are four groups of people who use link-tracking tools:
- Affiliate Marketers
- Ad Buyers
- Social Media Managers
Each has a somewhat different need and use for a link shortener.
Affiliate marketers want a service that can be used with WordPress to manage the hundreds (sometimes thousands) of affiliate links in one location. They don’t want to worry about changing affiliate links. Optionally, an affiliate wants analytic tracking for clicks and (if they are advanced) conversions.
On the other hand, ad buyers care about tracking clicks and conversions and sending that data back to the ad networks. Most want support for the big three ad networks: Google, Facebook, and Microsoft. TikTok is an up-and-coming ad network. Attribution is key for an ad buyer and ensuring ad money has a positive ROI.
Influencers want to insert a cloaked and shortened affiliate link in their social media network. They are looking for a brandable domain name that is ideally unique for them. They need to track sources of clicks and are the links shortened enough to appear in a post.
A social media manager’s main need is to insert UTM codes to track media campaigns’ effectiveness. They want to report to their client how many clicks came from their social media channels.
Understanding these differences, I have broken down the best link-tracking tools into my recommendations.
What Is a Link Shortener? Link shorteners, also called URL shorteners or link trackers, convert long URLs to shorter, unique URLs. Link shorteners serve a few purposes: they allow you to brand your links, track performance, and bypass social media character limits. Also, long URLs can look suspicious, so link shorteners help in that regard too.
Not all link-tracking tools are the right fit for the task at hand. Here are my recommendations on which link-tracking tool is right for your specific needs:
- Best Overall Link Tracking Tool - ClickMeter
- Best Conversion Tracking - ClickMeter
- Best Ad Tracking Service - ClickMagick
- Best Amazon Affiliate Link Tracker - Geniuslink
- Best Free Link Tracking - Rebrandly
- Best WordPress Link Tracking - Pretty Links
Link Tracking Tools Summary
Here’s a list of all of the link trackers available. Some are summarized below in more detail.
|Link Tracker||Requires WordPress||Amazon Support||Conversion Tracking||Ad Tracking||Starting Price|
Best Overall Link Tracker
ClickMeter is my favorite link-tracking tool and the one on the list I use every day for about eight years now. In fact, it powers this very website. I prefer ClickMeter because of its extendability with its API.
I use a complementary product – called LinkClicky – that extends ClickMeter’s functionality and adds features I think are missing from all link-tracking tools.
LinkClicky supercharges any ad buyer or affiliate marketer’s brand.
Out of the box, ClickMeter can track affiliate links and supports the postback of affiliate systems. Learn more by reading my review of ClickMeter.
Best For Amazon Links
The Genius link is perfect for online influencers who stick to social media accounts or use the Amazon Associates program. If an Amazon product is out of stock, Geniuslink will alert you.
They work with online storefronts like Target, Amazon, Best Buy, Bloomingdale’s, Chewy, DICK’s Sporting Goods, eBay, Home Depot, Walmart, and many more.
They also have automatic product localization with Amazon, iTunes, and Microsoft Store links. So you are monetizing for every click, no matter the country.
Lastly, they have an option named ‘Choice Pages’ that allows visitors to pick which merchant to buy from. No need to host a webpage and all are done with their service.
Best Ad Link Tracker
ClickMagick has recently shifted its marketing focus beyond targeting affiliate marketing and influencers. It now focuses on tracking banner ads for any product, including affiliate products.
ClickMagick can send ad conversion data to the following systems:
- Google Ads
- Microsoft Ads (formally Bing Ads)
With ClickMagick, it doesn’t matter if you promote your own products or affiliate links; you can send attribution information to the major ad services.
Best Free Link Tracker
If you are looking for free click tracking, Rebrandly is the tool you want. Rebrandly is the sister company of ClickMeter and was born out of that service.
I prefer Rebrandly over Bitly because of the simple fact you can have your own custom domain with Rebrandly on the free plan.
I personally keep my short domain, lud.live, with Rebrandly for tracking various links on social media.
Best WordPress-Based Link Tracker
Pretty Links is the go-to link-tracking tool on this list if you are a blogger. Pretty Links has a free version, though if you need reporting in Google Analytics, Pretty Links Pro is what you want.
I’m personally not a fan because of the limited functionality – instead, I recommend these Pretty Links alternatives.
If you are considering ThirstyAffiliates keep in mind, it is also owned by the same company that owns Pretty Links – MemberPress, LLC. More importantly, Pretty Links and ThistyAffiliates have the same pricing structure and features.
Other Link Tracking Tools
Lasso is much more than just a click-tracking service. It’s made specifically for WordPress blogs, allowing you to manage your links in one central place. But it can do much more than this. Lasso allows you to create visually appealing summary call-to-action boxes.
If you have Amazon’s Associate program, you’ll also like Lasso. It allows you to pull product images and pricing data automatically from Amazon.
Bitly came out of the need to shorten links with Twitter. Founded in 2008, Bitly was an important part of adding links to Tweets with Twitter until Twitter created its own link shortener.
Today Bitly is one of the more popular free link shorters available. On the positive, many tools allow you to create Bitly links with their service. When looking at the paid Bitly plans, which start at $8/month, there are better and cheaper services. I recommend Rebrandly over Bitly since Rebrandly’s free account allows for a custom domain.
Improvely allows you to track your visitor’s journey from UTM source to click to conversion. The traffic reporting is limited compared to my favorite tool, Woopra, but it is more powerful than the competing link trackers on this list.