Ow.ly and Ht.ly ~ Choose Bar or Non-bar URL Shortener for HootSuite

By Dave Olson | 5 years ago | 65 Comments

Vanilla or Chocolate? Bar or No bar?

URL ShortenerChoice is good in just about any situation, and like ice cream, one flavor doesn’t fit everyone on the web. With a desire for choice in mind, HootSuite users can now choose between two flavors of links — one with a social bar and one without.

In this character-limited web, URL shorteners are of great importance — for statistics, for branding, or simply for convenience. Ow.ly is used to shrink hundreds of thousands of links daily by users seeking clickthrough statistics and the one-click convenience of shrinking a link in HootSuite.

Two to Choose

The New York Times on HootSuiteThe links were/are presented with an opt-out “social bar” which provided options to retweet, share with more networks, add a rating, search Twitter, view other popular ow.ly links, and more.

However, not everyone needs all the extras, so now you have a choice: Ow.ly or Ht.ly (pronounced “hoot-ly”).

So, next time you login to HootSuite, you can choose which shortener you prefer — Ow.ly, which from today onward will have no social bar, or Ht.ly, which will have the social bar.

Whichever link shrinker you choose will become your default for all links you shorten in HootSuite, including links created with the one-click Hootlet tool.

Full Loaded Ht.ly

Ht.ly includes the social bar — a favorite tool of many marketing-minded HootSuite users who enjoy the benefits of amplifying their messages across networks. On-board tools include easy Re-Tweets, instant links ratings, and quick access to submit links to Digg, Reddit, Delicious, Facebook, etc. to increase measurable reach. Plus, the social bar includes a handy Twitter search box to help users continue exploring. The social bar has an opt-out close box as well, so the end-user has a choice to forego the social bar if they wish.

Example of link shortened with Ht.ly - note social bar
Example of a link shortened with Ht.ly – note the Social Bar

Lightweight Ow.ly

Ow.ly is the choice if you just need the basics — a short link and clickthrough stats — no marketing tools, simply a fully redirected URL without a frame.

Example of a link shortened with Ow.ly - note fully-redirected URL w/o frame
Example of a link shortened with Ow.ly – note fully-redirected URL w/o frame

Custom Link Shrinker

Up next, HootSuite will be adding the Ow.ly/Pro service to provide custom URL shorteners for businesses who purchase “vanity” URLs. Signup to be among the first to know about Ow.ly Pro.

These URLs can reflect company branding through creative domain names like many major web brands. For example, Twitter recently announced the addition of a custom URL shortener twt.tl, Google also uses a custom goo.gl (from Greenland) which also creates QR codes, WordPress uses wp.me, and Facebook uses fb.me (.me URLS are from Montenegro).

The URL shortening trend has created an interesting business opportunity for domain name providers who market the two-character codes from far-flung countries — examples: .im Isle of Mann, .tv Tuvalu, .fm Federated States of Micronesia, and .ly Libya — to companies seeking memorable and short branded domain names.

Fast, Reliable & Safe

Ow.ly is among the top 5 most used URL shorteners on the web and rated as a top performer. Technology industry news source, TechCrunch, in a study with Pingdom.com, rated Ow.ly as top choice of URL shorteners:

“When both the reliability and speed rankings are combined, ow.ly and bit.ly tie for first place overall …”

Research bureau Watchmouse keeps real-time status charts for popular URL shorteners and verifies Ow.ly’s performance as well as worldwide usage trends.

Further, both Ow.ly and Ht.ly check links against Google’s Safe Browsing blacklist to thwart phishing and Malware attacks.

Sprinkles on Top

Both options continue to provide deep click-through statistics, including regional breakdown, custom date ranges, and bot/spider filtering. Both URL shorteners also let you export reports and add custom URL parameters for even deeper analysis.

Also note that using the social bar with Ht.ly doesn’t impact your site’s SEO because Google and other other search spiders are passed straight through for indexing and ranking.

So which URL Shortener is right for you? Log in and choose — you can always change your mind later in Settings.

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Written by

ChuckBaggett 5pts

As I click links on a page with a Hootsuite social bar, the url never changes. Close the social bar, and the url doesn't change. 

Rendering the url bar useless for seeing where you actually are is a terrible thing for Hootsuite to do and a terrible thing for Hootsuite users to do. ht dot ly links are an abomination.

Hootsuite_Help_Desk moderator 5pts

@ChuckBaggett Hi there! 

I'm sorry to hear about the issues you've experienced when posting with ht.ly. I'd like to take a deeper look as to the issues you're experiencing and ask that you Tweet us at @Hootsuite_Help so we can discuss further! 


Jocelyne | @Hootsuite_Help | Hootsuite Help Desk - http://ow.ly/dBnBz

Anke 5pts

Thanks I'm a newbie on Hootsuite trying to find my way :)

Dave Olson
Dave Olson 5pts

Hi Sherry, you can include full URls in your social posts if you'd like instead of using Ow.ly - alas, you then use more of the precious 140 characters.

Hans 5pts

Me too! I would like to use uw.ly as a default URL shorterner, not ht.ly! Where can I find this option? It seems to be gone in the preferences menu.

Madis 5pts

Ht.ly seems good as it looks like "http" and adds a cool bar on the top :)

Seguro 5pts

I need to switch back to Ow. Thanks!

Dave Doolin
Dave Doolin 5pts

Thanks for removing the frame. I stopped using hootsuite in early 2009 due to framed content, and wasn't aware it had been dropped by default since then. This makes me want to try it again.

Aeronaves 5pts

to select per social network how we want to use the url options as opposed to being forced to use them or not use them across all of our social networks.

sherry 5pts

Any chance of turning off owly? I manage posts for many businesses via an rss feed and don't want owly to send them back to my blog through a link. How do I turn that off?

TonyT 5pts

maybe I'm missing something ...but what are you guys talking about there is no opt-out! feature! Hoot is shortening my shortner! I dont see a way to stop that!

spock 5pts

Since opting in for the Hit.ly link shortener, I don't have any activity stats within Hootsuite Analytics.

Where can I see all of my account click history or do I need to switch back to Ow.ly as the default link shortener?

Please help.

healthy yoga
healthy yoga 5pts

which one of the shortners use a 301 redirect. the ow or ht

elwira kotowska
elwira kotowska 5pts

Hi, I changed yesterday s shorteners from ht.ly to ow.ly. Since then I have problems to send away tweets that are time bound. "Reason: Could not connect to Twitter". How can you help me solve this problem?

Susanna Speier
Susanna Speier 5pts

How do we delete unwanted comments to Ow.ly picture posts?

Adam Williams
Adam Williams 5pts

Would you be able to add support for a custom URL shortening service, such as the self-hosted YOURLS? All you really need to do is allow users to store the URL API string for Hoot to ping instead of using say ow.ly or bit.ly.

Amy 5pts

I haven't seen the custom limk shortener yet, just an opportunity to sign up for more info about the Pro account. Any idea when we will be able to start using the custom shortener?

Lisa 5pts

Is the custom link shortener released officially yet? I can't find anywhere to add it to my account.


Ken Lewis
Ken Lewis 5pts

Leyla, I too never liked the share bar, yet how can one pass up the opportunity to maximize the impact of each unit of expended effort!

I am surely going ht.ly. I can handle the heavy weight!

leyla 5pts

It's funny because I never liked the tool bar, or share bar, but now given the option - I prefer it! Go figure.

I think any added chance of having my information shared is worth a shot!

Hans Blom
Hans Blom 5pts

Iam ready for it greeting from the Netherlands

Laurie Dunlop
Laurie Dunlop 5pts

Can I still track individual statistics on Tweets if using ht.ly?

Ken Magas
Ken Magas 5pts

Just signed up for your product and so far I am blown away! I have considered may paid products, but none I've seen compares to this one.

I'll start with the Ht.ly shortener and see how it goes.


Michael Shepherd
Michael Shepherd 5pts

How about giving us the full loaded Ht.ly bar option with our own branding excluding the Hootsuite branding for a paid fee?

Also it would be nice to be able to select per social network how we want to use the url options as opposed to being forced to use them or not use them across all of our social networks.

I would love to get more branding control over that bar

Dan 5pts

I think you got that backwards. You've got everyone trained that ow.ly is an iframed link, to the point where many pass over clicking on it. If you wanted to offer a way for hootsuite users to use your shortener minus the bar, ht.ly was the domain to do it on. A fresh domain offered the opportunity to rebrand the links as iframe-free.

Good luck, bros.

Don 5pts

Any idea of when the ow.ly api will be available?

Courtney 5pts

HootSuite--you're the best!

Kemp Edmonds
Kemp Edmonds 5pts

There is no product out there that can even touch Hootsuite's awesomeness now! -Next the world!

ThePro 5pts

I've been waiting for that option since almost since i started using HootSuite, THANKS! :)

Zarar 5pts

Love the product, but you really need to figure out a way to display the tweets retweeted by the retweet API in either its own column, or as part of the Mentions.

Mike 5pts

This was welcome news for me. Once again you have demonstrated the ongoing maturation of Hootsuite and that you are going forward and listening to your users creating something for everyone. Well done.

Jeff Brown
Jeff Brown 5pts

Thanks for the opt-out option. I appreciate HootSuite and all the good things you are doing.Here's to a great year ahead for you.

Jeff Brown