Want to Build Your Own URL Shortener? Read This First.

Bunga Asmara
Bunga Asmara Published on July 12, 2022

URL shortener, four words with a big meaning. The value of shortening URLs has grown over the past decade as we’re seeing a rise in social media apps, analytics monitoring click tracking, and the investment to create a memorable branding experience for customers.

If you’ve ever wondered how hard it is to build a URL shortener, turns out although it may appear that it isn’t too difficult, know that it is. While there are plenty of resources and tutorials that can help a software engineer quickly spin up code to shorten a link, there are few businesses that truly stand the test of time when it comes to cementing their URL shortening services. 

While a software engineer can build their own links, there are a lot of factors that can increase cost and cause a business more headache than it’s worth. Today we’re going to share eight reasons why building your own URL shortener may not be a sustainable method for your business and how it will be a better investment to go with a proven solution.

1 – Cost and Time to Market

“Time is money” is an old saying related to opportunity cost. There are always costs associated with developing technology; monetary and non-monetary. In order to build a link shortener, resources have to be allocated for a developer to write the code and infrastructure has to be set up in order to run the service. 

We’ve heard from customers who have tried to develop their own internal shortener that their opportunity and monetary costs skyrocketed. The time spent developing, purchasing new infrastructure, and maintaining their service increased considerably over time. Engineers aren’t cheap and the labor needed to update and maintain your own URL shortener will add up quickly.

A proven solution has economies of scale. They’ve already made investments in infrastructure and engineering that allow them to work more efficiently at a lower cost. Gourl’s team of engineers, designers, and IT technicians are dedicated to giving customers the support they need while improving their URL shortening solutions.

2 – Missing Out on Features

Who doesn’t love additional features in a product? Whether it’s customer support or mobile apps, when you are backed by a business with dynamic features included in the package, you’re getting more than just a single product. Developing your own link shortening solution may solve an initial use case, but as requirements evolve more features will likely become necessary. When you are building your own link shortener it doesn’t take too much time to understand the many different features and tools that top link shortening solutions need to offer in order to be successful.

There are tons of amazing features that are built into a monthly package with a business like Gourl. For example, features like QR Codes and the ability to change your URL destination make your links more versatile and give your brand more control. One of the most important factors is the team behind the product who will constantly take customer feedback into consideration and release new features based on consumer needs.

3 – You Need Analytics

Today’s marketers revolve around a world of metrics to understand engagement with their content and communications, and to make data-driven decisions. In order to be a successful marketer, you will need analytics to show your metrics, and counting the number of clicks a link generates is not enough. The accuracy of the metrics is important in order to help customers flourish and grow online.

Having analytics is essential because bot crawlers regularly click on links, which can lead to grossly inflated metrics. For a more accurate view of your link engagement, these bot clicks need to be filtered out. This, yet again, takes time and effort.

Top link management tools can help you track things like:

  • Which website a click came from
  • The time of engagement
  • Geolocation information

You can also leverage their tools to help make sense of that engagement so you’re not left scratching your head in confusion. For example, some platforms will allow you to group your links by channel or campaign and export data for deeper analysis. 

4 – Reliability

Reliability is an essential component of any business that can make your product soar or sink. You may expect your custom-built software to work constantly and reliably, but often there are unforeseen outages and bugs. Troubleshooting and fixing these issues cuts into company resources, such as engineering time.

Having dedicated engineers to troubleshoot any unexpected issues is an integral part of link management that you can’t afford to forego with your product. A proven solution will have support and engineering teams to troubleshoot issues as they arise. When you’re knee-deep in launching a campaign, the last thing you want to worry about is finding resources to help fix unexpected problems.

5 – Scalability

Creating a small number of shortened links and gathering basic metrics may be achievable. However, most brands expect their business and its initiatives to grow. As new use cases for your solution arise, you may find you need to scale your link shortening abilities. What was once a need for a hundred links might become thousands or even millions of links. Without the infrastructure and support to meet the demand for more links, your product may not be successful.  

Gourl features several packages that can help transition a user into using more links as their business grows to scale. For larger corporations , an enterprise-grade solution will support link generation at scale and programmatically retrieve link analytics. 

6 – Integrations

Platforms you use for your day-to-day may not integrate with your custom-built solution. Ideally, the link shortener you use will enable you to easily integrate with the platforms you already use, rather than working across multiple platforms to get things done.

7 – Security and Compliance

As internal solutions are built, forgotten—yet extremely important—factors often include security and compliance. Data and privacy regulations evolve constantly and you have to stay ahead of the curve in order to keep yourself protected. For example, is your newly developed shortener GDPR compliant? Are mechanisms in place to protect your links and the data? 

A reliable solution will offer important security features like spam filtering and blocking of malicious links and, not to get too technical, ensure their systems mitigate vulnerabilities by using third-party application penetration tests.

8 – Compatibility

The internet ecosystem is constantly evolving. Browsers change and standards update. Inevitably, these changes may affect your links. Technical debt can be a concern, since it can be extremely difficult to keep up with every single nuance on how your links may be impacted.

A solid link shortening solution will:

  • Handle the edge cases and general internet “weirdness”
  • Be compatible with different types browsers
  • Stay up to date with the latest internet standards

The big takeaway here is, yes, it’s definitely possible for your business to build its own URL shortener, but it’s not without its challenges. Why go through the challenge of building your own shortener when you can invest in proven solutions like Gourl that will deliver big results! Find the right solution for your business.