branded vs smart

Smart Links vs. Branded Links: How to choose a short URL

Both Branded Links and Smart Links are great for creating short links – but when should you use one over the other? 

BL.INK short links are more than just short URLs. In fact, when you use BL.INK, you have two different options to create a short link: a branded link or a Smart Link.


We’ll talk about the difference between the two and how to choose, but let’s start with what branded links and Smart Links have in common:


  • Meaningful. Your BL.INK link uses real words that you choose to convey your brand, your message, or your call to action.
  • Memorable. Since your short links are made up of real words, they’re easy to remember. This is especially helpful when a link is printed on physical marketing materials or spoken during a podcast or radio promotion.
  • Measurable. BL.INK enables you to quickly view link performance and to see how your audience is responding to your content. Dig into the details of demographics, traffic sources, and devices, and integrate your BL.INK analytics with other analytics platforms.
  • Trustworthy. When your link is made of words that express your brand or the content of your destination page, you build trust with your audience. And since they trust where the link is taking them, they’re more likely to click. In fact, they’re twice as likely to click on a short link using real words than either a long link or a short, legacy link using forgettable characters.
  • Customizable. Custom links are the most relevant and memorable. When you create branded links, you can create a domain using your brand name. With Smart Links, BL.INK generates five options based on the content of the destination page, from which you can select the one for best fit.
  • Best-performing. As mentioned above, research shows that users are twice as likely to click on short links using real words. See all the stats in this infographic.
  • Private. With legacy link shorteners, your link stats are accessible to the public. Eek! This means your competitors could discover the kinds of campaigns you’re running, and your success rate, just by looking at your short link data. But at BL.INK, your link data is private and available only to you, when you’re logged in to your account.


In addition to their similarities, there are a few key differences between Smart Links and branded links:


Branded links


Branded links showcase your brand. For example:



To create branded links, you purchase or add a domain specifically for your links, such as,,, etc.. Using branded short links helps to build brand awareness and recognition; your links signal that the content you’re sharing is from your brand. Knowing what destination is in store makes your audience more likely to trust the content, which is one of the reasons they’re more likely to click and share. A recent study showed that users were 75% more likely to share a custom-branded link. But even when users don’t click on your link, you’ve still delivered a valuable, memorable brand impression with your custom short link to anyone and everyone that sees it – a powerful means to generate brand awareness.


Sign up for BL.INK today and get a FREE domain to use to create branded links.


Branded links are a great way to promote specific content that’s anchored to your brand. For example, you could run a promotion using a compelling link such as Even if users do not click the link, the link itself delivers a valuable brand impression that conveys your marketing message.


Another most-loved feature of branded links is the ability to swap the destination page to accommodate changes in your promotions. This is especially useful in offline or printed material such as ads, billboards, flyers, or pamphlets, where you can repurpose your short link and also avoid doing a new print run, once a promotion or other time-sensitive content is completed.


See how to choose the perfect domain for branded links.


Smart Links


Smart links are BL.INK-exclusive short URLs that use real words to describe your web page. They don’t require a branded domain, so they’re easy to make on the fly without purchasing or a new domain.


BL.INK creates Smart Links by searching your destination page, finding the keywords, and using those to create a relevant short link. All you have to do is paste your long URL into the Smart Link field, and and then choose one of the five suggestions that BL.INK automatically makes for you.

Smart LInk example

After BL.INK does its magic and you’ve chosen your favorite option for your short URL, you can customize even further, by replacing some of the characters with real words.


Here’s how that works:


Check out What are Smart Links? and When and Where to Use Smart Links to learn more.


How do I choose?


The best time to make this decision is during the planning phase of your campaign or marketing initiative.


Use Smart Links when:

  • You want to share third-party content and track clicks, but you don’t necessarily want to brand the content as your own
  • You want your link to represent this content


Use branded links when:

  • You want to gain brand impressions and convey important messages or calls to action
  • The content is your own to promote
  • You may need to update the link destination in the future (you can’t change the destination of a Smart Link)
  • You’re running a specific campaign


Regardless of which type of short link you choose, your BL.INK short links be more memorable and more click-worthy.