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How URL Shorteners Work [Full Explanation] - Flipmsg

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In this post you will learn in more detail how URL shorteners work from the technical side, and how you can make money by using them.

We will also share a unique way to make money with short links.

So, how do URL shorteners work?

A URL shortener is a script that allows you to shorten long URLs, in order to do so it will store your long URL in a database and generate a random token (slug), which will identify the link.

When a user clicks on the link the system detects the appropriate long URL associated with the short link, and redirects the user to the appropriate destination.

This in a nutshell.

Now for a more detailed explanation, let's explain it with steps:

Step 1 - The user enters a long URL

Step 2 - The system will generate unique random key for the new link

Step 3 - it will give you the opportunity to create a unique name for the link (slug)

Step 4 - it will store the new link details in a database

Step 5 - it will give you the new link, which you can use to redirect traffic

Step 6 - when visitors click on the link they will land on the service domain name (usually short domain name which is the placeholder)

Step 7 - the domain host a script that will detect the short link via it’s unique name/slug/key

Step 8 - the script fetches the details about the short link from the database

Step 9 - the script now knows the destination of the long URL

Step 1 - the script performs a 301 redirect for the user

Step 1 - the user lands on the destination URL.

Many things happen in the background when the user lands on the placeholder domain.

The script tracks data about the user, like the referring domain (source of traffic), geo location of the user, the device, and more.

It may sound simple, but a URL shortener can be very complex in the infrastructure side of things, this kind of service can generate big data.

 If the service gets a lot of traffic this can be problematic in large scale apps.

A URL shortener is also a magnet for hackers and spammers, about 30% of its users are usually malicious users, so there are many security issues with this kind of service.

How do I create a URL shortener?

You have 2 options:

  1. Install a script on your domain
  2. Create one from scratch

Installing an existing script on your domain

You can purchase a URL shortener script from a site like codecanyon or use an open source solution like POLR.

It’s easy and fast, the downside is that your script is not unique. 

In addition you won’t be able to support a large number of users.

So it will mainly be for personal use and branding.

But instead of hosting your own URL shortener you can just use a free service like rebrandly.

Don’t plan on using this kind of script for the public audience, it won’t work, in order to create a URL shortener service that is available to the public, you will need to build it from scratch.

Create a URL shortener service from scratch

It is possible to create a URL shortener from scratch, but you will need to know a scripting language , or to hire programmers.

The language needed should be server side language like PHP, Python,Ruby, ASP etc…

The big challenge with this kind of service is not from the programming side, but the infrastructure, this kind of service requires serious infrastructure to function, for it to be able to handle big data.

It also requires ongoing maintenance and backups for the data, it’s not as easy as it may look at first glance.

So the main hurdle is usually with the database and the infrastructure, which can become very messy, with a lot of data.

You should also consider security risks with this kind of service.

But from the programming side of things, it’s pretty simple.

Can I use an existing URL shortener instead?

Using a URL shortener can not be more simpler, just follow these steps:

  1. Go to the Flipmsg URL shortener
  2. Enter your long URL in the input box
  3. Click on ‘Make it short’
  4. That's it, now you have a new short link
  5. You can customize the link slug to make the link more descriptive

How do URL shorteners make money?

URL shorteners make money in two main ways, from ads and paid subscription, almost all URL shortener services make money from ads.

They also have a paid subscription plan, when they offer additional features, this paid plan can range from $10 to a couple of hundreds per month, depending on the plan.

The Flipmsg URL shortener for example makes money from ads. And in the future it will also have a paid subscription plan.

Some URL shorteners are sharing the revenue with their users, these services make money from advertisers who pay them per 1,000 clicks.

How can you make money from URL shorteners?

Not all URL shorteners allow you to make money with their service, the ones who do are doing it with advertising.

They are getting paid by advertisers for 1,000 clicks, and they give you a share of the profits. Because you are the one who drives the traffic.

You are getting paid per 1,000 clicks that you send through your short links.

Each service has a different rate of payment per 1,000 clicks, and the payment rate is different from country to country.

You should check the rates table on their website.

Usually they pay about $10 to $20 per 1,000 clicks, but it can go much higher for some types of traffic , or much lower, sometimes it can be as low as $2 for 1,000 clicks.

Example for URL shorteners that pays you per 1,000 clicks:

  1. Adfly
  2. Linkvertise

These services give you daily and monthly payments via paypal, skrill and bank transfer.

Continue reading to learn how you can make money with bitly and the Flipmsg URL shortener

Can I make money from bitly?

No, you can not make money directly from, but you can make money indirectly, if you hide your affiliate links from your visitors.

With bitly or with the Flipmsg URL shortener, you can hide your affiliate link, and create a custom call to action in the slug of the link.

This way you can improve your link clickthrough rate (CTR), and generate more clicks on your affiliate links.

With the Flipmsg URL shortener, you have more flexibility with the slug, because you can enter special characters like:









Or any other character.

You can separate words with the hyphen character ‘-’, to make your call to action more enticing and readable.

Both services are very useful for tracking your affiliate clicks and storing your short links for the long term.

Flipmsg also gives you the ability to segment your traffic to traffic tiers, and gives you a traffic quality score.

In addition you can delete your short links at any time, and the tracking is in real time.

If you want to learn about a unique way to make money from short links , Continue reading...

A Unique way to make money with URL shorteners

You can make money with a tool called poll links. poll links allow you to create a regular short link with a custom slug but this short link is also a multi answer poll.

The difference between poll links and the URL shortener, is that you can create a poll, and redirect users based on their answer they select in the poll.

The poll has a question and few answer options (minimum 2 answer options), you can redirect users based on their selected answer to any destination you like.

Why is this useful?

You can create some offers, with or without an optin page,  and ask a user a question , for example:

Select an interest:

  1. Make money online
  2. Fitness
  3. Bitcoin
  4. Forex

In the example above, it’s not even a question. It doesn’t have to be.

The user selects his interest, this is the answer, then he will be redirected to the appropriate optin page or affiliate offer or CPA offer.

This allows you to segment your traffic , which is useful for list building,it also allows you to send users to the right offers based on their answer.

Poll links, allows you to create a simple short link that you can customize, exactly like a regular short link created with the URL shortener.

In addition it gives you full analytics , segmentation to tiers, traffic quality score, and poll stats. All for free.

In addition it helps you to learn more about your audience, with a simple question and answers format.

So, which URL shortener is the best?

There is not one service that is the best, they all have pros and cons:

  1. Bitly - one of the best all around URL shortener, it has built in stats, and it’s free to use, there are few downsides to it,  e.g: you can not delete your links and you can not make money from the service.
  2. Flipmsg - free to use, it has better analytics than bitly, and you can delete all your links at any time, you can also use special characters in the link slug.

In addition you drop affiliate cookies on your link visitors and build an online business.

But, it also has downsides, one of them is that there are some functionalities that are not implemented yet , in addition it uses ads . while bitly doesn’t use ads.

  1. tinyURL - one of the best free solutions, one of the downsides, is that it doesn’t have built-in analytics with the free plan, you will need to upgrade to the paid plan.

All of the options above are great, you just need to pick one.

Does Google have a URL Shortener?

The google URL shortener was deprecated in 2019, they prefer to focus their efforts on another project called firebase.

There is no access to the old links and their data, and you can not create any new short links.


You have many options when it comes to URL shorteners, whether it’s using an existing service, or installing your own script on your own domain. Some services even allow you to make money from the clicks you are sending.

You need to choose what is the best solution for you.

For branding , you go with rebrandly or a free open source script on your own domain like POLR.

For simplicity you can just go with bitly , flipmsg or tinyURL

For making money online, try the flipmsg online business, or go with services that pay you per 1,000 clicks like adfly , linkvertise,  or

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