How to Use Bitly

There comes a time where you have the most legit Tweet you could possibly imagine. Everything’s perfect; it’s catchy, easy to read, funny, and within the 140 character limit. However, you want to post the URL to that picture, but it would put you over the character limit. Enter, Bitly. This is how to use bitly.

How Does Bitly Work? uses what’s called a 301 redirect. It’s the most efficient method for redirection. A great explanation of how redirects work was found at StackOverFlow. User, Abel, described the process as so:

No, they don’t use files. When you click on a [shortened] link, an HTTP request is sent to there server with the full URL, like (not a real one). They read the path part (here duSk8wK), which maps to their database. In the database, they find a description (sometimes), your name (sometimes) and the real URL. Then they issue a redirect, which is a HTTP 301 response and the target URL in the header.

This direct redirect is important. If you were to use files or first load HTML and then redirect, the browser would add TinyUrl to the history, which is not what you want. Also, the site that is redirected to, will see that referrer (the site that you originally come from) as being the site the TinyUrl link is on (i.e.,, or your own site, wherever the link is). This is just as important, so that site owners can see where people are coming from. This too, would not work if a page gets loaded that redirects.

How to Shorten a Link with Bitly

After signing up with, you should be redirected to your home dashboard. In the upper right, you’ll see a text field that looks like this:

how to use bitly

For manual link shortening, simply paste the original link in the text field and press enter. You will then be displayed the new link, that can then be used for Twitter, Facebook, shits n giggles, etc.


If you’re looking to promote your blog on Twitter, and want to do so automatically every time you publish a post, the following is for you:

  1. Go to your WordPress plugin page. Add new. Search for “WP to Twitter”. Install and activate. 
  2. (I’ll save configuration of other options for another post)
  3. If you scroll down, you’ll see a two input fields for’s services
Bitly options -- WP to Twitter





4. Go back to Bitly and your dashboard. Click your username at the top right, click Settings, then Advanced.

5. At the bottom, you’ll see “Legacy API Key”. I did it a while ago so I’m not sure what it says originally, but you’ll be pressing something like “Get my Key” or “Authorize”.

6. Once you have your API Key, you simply copy and paste it into the WP to Twitter config page and you’re done! Tweet away…