bitly engineering blog bitly home
December 4, 2012

Watching your audience click

Ever wonder how many people are reading the stuff you share on Twitter and Facebook? With bitly you can discover how many people clicked on your links, and where the traffic comes from. It’s one interesting way to understand the success of the links you’re sharing. Just take a bitly link, add a + to the end, and enter it into your browser to land on the info page.

On the info page you’ll see the global stats of a link, which is the aggregate click count- all the clicks generated by everyone who shared that specific URL. If you shared the link from your own bitly account, you’ll also be able to see stats specific to the link you shared. When you land on an info page for any bitly link you can see all the clicks generated for that user’s version of the link (user hash) and all the clicks generated for all versions of the same URL (global hash) shortened using bitly. One reason to sign up for an account is to get a user hash for your bitly link. This allows you to see click counts for just your shortlink. The hash is what we call the string of characters and numbers in your bitly link.

One way to begin understanding the power of bitly’s analytics is to look at a popular link found “in the wild.” This past Sunday The New York Times ran a story about Maria Popova (@Brainpicker on Twitter) called, “She’s Got Some Big Ideas”. The article discusses her influence on Twitter and her ability to curate content that engages a varied audience of writers, scientists, artists, and technologists. When The New York Times asked how Popova views her job she responded with: “Helping people become interested in things they didn’t know they were interested in, until they are.” We think she does a pretty good job of that.

Popova uses bitly links on Twitter, and so do a lot of other Twitter users across the web (we shorten 80 million links per day). The New York Times article was originally shared by the Times, but then started to move across the web through other influencers and publishers. The graph in the above info page view shows click traffic over 24 hours, indicating an initial surge in shares and clicks, followed by a lull on Sunday night and a resurgence early Monday morning. 

Interested in seeing how your links are traveling and when in realtime? Find the info page for your own links by navigating to the stats page and clicking on a specific link, or simply add a + sign to the end of your shortlink and enter it into your browser. Have a question? Let us know. Tweet at @bitly, or shoot us an email to

kristinem-c posted on December 4, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
November 16, 2012

Shorten your links faster!

Want to quickly grab a shortlink? Our recently revamped logged out shorten page makes it easier for you to do exactly that. Just go to, and paste a long URL into the shorten box. You’ll see the aggregate click count (total clicks generated by anyone who shared that same URL using bitly) along with a preview of the link. You’ll also see how many people saved the same URL using bitly and the number of people who have shared it on Facebook or Twitter.

When you shorten using the logged out page we only store your latest 10 links, so if you’re interested in saving and storing more links you’ll want to sign up for a free bitly account. We’ll import your latest 10 links directly into your new account. When you’re logged in you get to see the specific number of clicks generated for your own bitly link. That means you can easily track how many people are reading the content you share. You can learn more about the advantages of signing up for a bitly account here

Let us know your questions or thoughts! Get in touch with us at or tweet at @bitly.

kristinem-c posted on November 16, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
November 15, 2012

Understanding your bitly stats page

How many of your followers have read the latest article you shared on Twitter or Facebook? Did the people on your mailing list open the link include in your latest email newsletter? Are you ever curious where the people who clicked on your link are located?  The stats page answers all these questions for you.

When you sign up for a bitly account, you gain access to a stats page. In addition to total click counts for your link you can also see referral breakdowns and click counts over the past 30 days represented in a bar graph. With these stats you can gain a better understanding of how active your links are across the web.

Individual Bitmark Stats

When you head to your stats page, the first thing you’ll see is a list of your most recently saved bitmarks. For additional information on any bitmark click the title. Next to each bitmark will be stats for clicks via your shortlink, total clicks, and total saves.  

What do these mean?

Clicks via your shortlink- How many total clicks your bitmark has received
Total Clicks
- Click count for all saved bitmarks that direct to that long URL
Total Saves
- How many users have saved this long URL as a bitmark

Bar Graph

The bar graph shows click counts and the number of links created over the past 30 days. Use the dropdown menu to the right of the bar graph to change the timeframe of reported stats. You can even set up a tracking domain to see all click traffic to your site from bitly links.

Pie Graphs 

Two pie graphs are located underneath the bar graph. The ‘Referrers’ pie graph shows traffic referrals from different sources online.  The ‘Locations’ graph gives a representation of what countries your clicks are coming from.

With your stats page you can gain a better idea of how active your bitmarks are on the web and where their click traffic is driven from. Still have questions? Let us know in the comments or shoot an email to We’d be happy to help.

jwilson89 posted on November 15, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
November 9, 2012

Halflife by Topic

At bitly we extract the topic of each page whose URL gets shortened using our service. We decided to see how the topic of the page affects how quickly the page gets consumed after publication. To measure the speed of consumption, we use a metric we call the ‘halflife’ of the page.


We find the ‘halflife’ of a link by calculating the time from the first click on a link to the median click - this means we line up all the clicks on a link in time order and then find the time of the middle click and subtract from it the time of the first click. This is the amount of time it took for a page to receive half the traffic it’s ever likely to see.

We like this way of thinking about the consumption dynamics of a page for two reasons. It captures both the large initial burst of interest on a page as well as the long, heavy tail of readership in the latter stages of a page’s life cycle.

Don’t Blink if You’re Watching Sports

In general, we found that topic doesn’t have a large measurable effect on the halflife of a link, with one notable exception: sports. In this case, a large proportion of the links have a halflife of less than 200 minutes, which means that a page about sports have a much shorter amount of time to capture their audience.

By contrast, as shown in the plot below, pages about business are much more likely than sports to have a longer half life, and so publishers of this material can expect halflives of up to 500 minutes.

Figure 1: distribution of halflife by topic. Sports pages, shown in orange, are much more likely to have a short halflife (<200 minutes) whereas Business pages, shown in purple, have a more even distribution of short and long halflives.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that sports fan are only interested in the freshest news, but it does come as a surprise that so many other topics are surprisingly consistent.

hmason posted on November 9, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
October 18, 2012

Using bundles to communicate within your organization

A few weeks ago we spotted some awesome bundles created by Huge, a digital agency based in Brooklyn. Each week they create a bundle with five links to interesting articles. The bundle is shared internally with the entire agency and then posted on their social media accounts. We loved this idea and talked to their Communications team to learn more about Huge and how they use bitly.

The Huge office in DUMBO, Brooklyn.

Tell us a little about Huge.
Huge is a digital agency that provides business strategy, design, marketing and technology services to some of the world’s largest businesses and best-known brands. We’re based in DUMBO, Brooklyn, but we have offices in Los Angeles, London, Rio de Janeiro, Portland, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

How do you use bitly?
We use bitly to convert links to our custom domain,, whenever we share on Twitter or Facebook. We’ll also use bitly to shorten long URLs to make them look neat and branded in emails to clients. Every week, we create a bitly bundle of links to five articles that our Strategy team read and found interesting. We call it the Huge Download and it’s curated by various members of our Strategy team. We share the bundle in an email to Huge employees, as well as on Facebook and Twitter.

What has Huge discovered through using bundles?
It’s interesting to see what types of content are most interesting to Huge employees. We test various headline copy styles and different article types and take a look at how the click-through rates vary. It’s no surprise that provocative headlines get the highest click-throughs, while data-intense or research-heavy articles have lower activity. Through testing, we’ve also found that mid-morning on Monday is a sweet spot for our group.

We’re in the process of looking at the last year of bitly data and putting together an “agency profile” based on reading habits. We hope to uncover some interesting insights about our group. We’re also designing a survey to better understand what our team wants to see more of, and how they’re using the information – we know that some people have used it for projects or have sent the articles to clients.

How have bundles helped impact the office culture?
Bundles have definitely helped keep everyone informed of the latest digital trends and news. Most Huge employees read so many different articles that it’s been good for our Strategy group to be able to organize a discussion around a finite list of pieces each week. It has given more people in the organization, like those in the design and technology disciplines, access to Huge’s strategic thinking. It also helps our strategists get feedback and ideas from people outside their group.

Do you have any tips or best practices for those who want to get started bundling?
bundles are a great communication tool for us. We use them to share information and package up disparate links, so a best practice would be to continually monitor and watch performance. Analytics are so important everywhere, so to see and understand how bundles are working as a communication tool helps inform our communication decisions. The analytics make it easy to see what’s working, what’s not, and what changes need to be made.

The Huge office in DUMBO.

Want to start using bundles in your office? Learn the basics here. We’d also love to hear how you use bundles in your everyday life. Reach out to us at community[at], or leave a comment below.

jwilson89 posted on October 18, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
October 2, 2012

Sharing your upcoming events using bundles

Bundles are particularly helpful when you find yourself wanting to share a bunch of links at the same time. Bundles let you organize your links, add comments, curate with your friends, and share it all using one link. 

There are many ways bundles can be used (trip planning, resource sharing, recipe collecting). Bundles also help you organize and share all the events happening in your community. Maybe you’re planning a fall themed weekend and need a way to save all  the activities you’d like to attend? Or you’re in charge of a meetup, organization, or university that holds lots of events and want an easy way to remind your community of what’s happening? Whatever the events may be- bundles make it easier for people to discover what’s happening and where.

Duke University shares a weekly bundle of events with their student body that is a selection of film screenings, guest speakers, and info sessions that students should not miss that week. At bitly, we create bundles of all the events team members will be attending or speaking at during the month. It’s a nice way to see what everyone is up to when they’re out of the office and lets us easily share where we’ll be with the wider community. Interested in knowing what events the bitly team will be at this October? Check out our bundle, “bitly out and about in October”.

You can also use a bundle to plan out the events you’d like to attend. Want to have your list at the tip of your fingers? Just download the bitly iPhone app (now with bundles!).

Some tips to keep in mind when bundling

  • Write a description: Let people know what your bundle is all about. If you add a URL it will hyperlink.
  • Invite Curators: Easily collaborate with others who might also be interested in attending the events or are somehow involved in what you’re sharing. You can invite up to 12 curators. They’ll receive an invite asking to join you.
  • Add comments: Comments will let you have a conversation between curators and give you the opportunity to include as much additional information as you’d like in your bundle. Maybe it’s an extra tidbit about the event, a tip on how to get there, a way to get in touch with the speaker directly, or a fun detail about the event that isn’t included in the link you’re sharing.

That’s it! Have a bundle ready to go? Share your bundles with us in the comments below or tweet @bitly.

kristinem-c posted on October 2, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
September 27, 2012

Introducing bundles on the iPhone app!

Today we’re excited to share an updated bitly iPhone app (download here) that now includes bundles. This is a big update that will let you do even more with your links while on the go. 

Bundles help you organize the links you save around a theme. Travel tips, recipes, research on a topic- anything! They’re also handy for collaborating with others- brainstorming with coworkers, dinner party planning, resource sharing. Having bundles on your phone means you can now browse the contents of your existing bundles, create new ones, add and remove links from your bundles and collaborate with others wherever you are.

This update also makes sharing and commenting on bundles easy. Continue the conversation wherever you are. Just select the bundle you’d like to view, and add your comment underneath the bitmark. Share to Twitter, Facebook or any email once your bundle is ready to go. Want to keep it private? Make sure the lock under the bundle description reflects that.

Ready to see the new iPhone app? Download or update now. With this update we’ve made it easier for you to share and organize your links and collaborate with others. You’ll also notice that the app is optimized for iOS6 and the brand new iPhone 5. 

kristinem-c posted on September 27, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
September 25, 2012

Save and share links right from your browser

Looking to easily save and share all the stuff you find across the web? bitly’s Chrome extension will help you do exactly that. Any link can be quickly saved and shared right from your browser. Don’t use Chrome? Check out our handy bitmarklet.

We’ve made some updates to the bitly Chrome extension that make it faster and easier for you to save and share all the links you find across the web. Here’s what you can now do:

• View multi-network previews, so you can see exactly how your message will look on Twitter and Facebook before posting or tweeting.

• Customize your shortlinks from within the extension.

• Move between tabs and windows without the bitly popup becoming deactivated. 

Getting started using the Chrome extension

It only takes seconds to start using the Chrome extension. Once you install the Chrome extension you’ll be able to quickly save any web page to your bitly account right from your browser by clicking on the puffer icon. 

In search of more speed? Save and shorten any page with one click, by clicking the gear icon on the lower-right and selecting “1-click save and shorten”.

Choose whether the link you save is private or appears in your public profile, add the link to a bundle, or create a new bundle with the link you just saved. Want to simply grab the shortlink? The extension can automatically copy the shortlink for your new bitmark to your clipboard. Go to your Chrome settings to set this up (right click the puffer icon and select ‘settings’ and ‘options’). You can also click on the shortlink to copy and share wherever you want.

Share the link to Twitter, Facebook or any email. You’ll see a preview of what your tweet or post will look like before sharing.
We hope you dive in! Download the Chrome extension to get started. Already using it? The Chrome extension will automatically update itself to the new version. 
kristinem-c posted on September 25, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
September 14, 2012

Public and Private – What’s the difference?

Every time you save a link or create a bundle with bitly, you can decide whether it’s public or private. Those can be loaded terms when it comes to the Internet, so we thought we’d explain exactly what “public” and “private” mean on bitly.

Public bitmarks and bundles will be displayed on your public profile page, and may appear in your friends’ Network view. Your username and a link to your public profile will be visible on the bitly info “+” page for any bitmark that you’ve publicly saved.

Private bitmarks and bundles will not be publicly associated with your bitly account: they won’t appear on your profile or in your friends’ Network view, and your username will not appear on their info pages.

Private bundles can only be seen by their owner and curators, and are not published publicly by bitly.

There are several easy ways to change your privacy settings. Head to to chose how your bitmarks and bundles should save by default. Or manage each bitmark individually using the padlock located to the left of the bitmark in your list.

Privacy settings can be changed at any time. You can even use bulk actions to edit privacy settings for many bitmarks at once.

Interested in finding your private or public bitmarks later? Use the drop down search menu in your bitmarks list to quickly filter your private or public links.

If you have any questions or concerns about the difference between public and private links, please feel free to contact us at support(at) We’d love to hear from you.

jwilson89 posted on September 14, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)
September 10, 2012

bitly tricks! ‘shift+i’ in your bitmarks list

(image by Gregory Hansen)

Want to see all your bitly stats at a glance? You can quickly do this with the handy keyboard shortcut ‘shift+i’ while in your bitmarks list. It will immediately open all the info panels for bitmarks on that page, revealing click counts, share history, and a shortlink to copy. You can also see this information for a specific bitmark by clicking the “i” button in your bitmarks list. How cool is that?

Curious to learn other bitly tricks? Check out our past blog posts on keyboard shortcuts, bulk actions, and your bitmarks list.

jwilson89 posted on September 10, 2012 | Permalink | Comments (View)