Shorten long links into friendly URLs for your podcast, presentations, blog, social networks, and also easier memory. I've been a long fan of Pretty Link Pro, but Chris Guthrie, maker of EasyAzon Pro, has a new player: Better Links Pro. It's better-priced, but is it better designed? Let's see!
Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of version 1.1.1 for review, but I continue objectively as I'm fully willing to invest in a better tool. Some of my negative points may also be corrected in future updates.
Let's start with the main question to most—what is the price difference?
Pretty Link Lite is a free plugin missing several cool features (discussed more below). Pretty Link Pro comes in two prices: single-site for $37 and developer (unlimited sites) for $97. Both editions include lifetime automatic updates and one year of premium support.
Better Links Pro also comes in two prices: multi-site for $27 and developer (unlimited sites) for $37. Both editions have one year of support and updates, but I couldn't find a renewal price (I expect it to be 50% off).
Through Friday, June 6 at 11:59 PM PDT, the price will be as low as $20 (increasing $1 per day) and will include the unlimited developer rights free!
I like speed and internationalization, so I will have to consider carefully whether I will switch for all of my sites.
Here's my quick and initial opinion after writing the in-depth review below.
Better Links Pro is cheaper, simpler, faster, and is better for an international audience;. But it's not as convenient for making a friendly link to the content you're publishing at that time. (Like my Episode Numbering method for
/#.) It may also require annual renewals.
Pretty Link Pro is more powerful, has more control over automatic links, and is better for making friendly links to the content you're publishing at that time. But it's more expensive upfront (no renewals for updates), slower, and doesn't support localizing links for an international audience.
Pretty Link Lite, Pretty Link Pro, and Better Links Pro all offer several default options each new link can inherit, or you can change these for each link.
- 301 permanent redirect
- 307 temporary redirect
But Better Links Pro takes this a step further with offering “open in new window” as a default or any link you select. Pretty Link Pro only offers this for automatically replaced keywords. Better Links Pro can also set a “302 temporary” redirect in addition to 301 and 307.
Pretty Link Pro leaves the Lite version behind by offering automatic keyword replacement with plenty of controls, thresholds, and styling.
I like how Pretty Link Pro allows me to set an overall maximum for different keywords to be automatically replaced, and a separate maximum for how many times the same keyword will be replaced.
Better Links Pro takes a simpler approach.
This doesn't have nearly the control that Pretty Link Pro offers, but Better Links Pro is easier to understand. It also provides a feature I wish Pretty Link Pro had: excluding headings. This means that my level-2 and level-3 headings, which I use a lot, won't get keywords automatically hyperlinked and make my headings look messy.
Stats and tracking
If you create and use a lot of friendly URLs on your site, getting useful stats can become complicated. Pretty Link Lite, Pretty Link Pro, and Better Links Pro provide stats, but Pretty Link's is an internal tracking method, which I suspect can cause extra server load (though I haven't confirmed yet.
Pretty Link Pro does offer integration with Google Analytics through a third-party plugin (Google Analyticator, Google Analytics for WordPress, or Google Analytics Plugin) but there's no explanation of what benefit that gives.
Better Links Pro offers advanced tracking with Google Analytics. It easily authenticates with your Analytics account and will track link performance on specific pages, posts, and custom post types!
Pretty Link Pro can create links with a stupid link bar. Can you tell I'm not a fan? This frames the link with your own header, which can sometimes get you kicked out of affiliate programs. It's unfriendly and highly recommended.
So it makes a lot of sense that Better Links Pro wouldn't even offer this “feature.”
Pretty Link Pro offers several options to place Twitter badges and social-sharing links on pages and posts, as well as automatically publish content to Twitter. But this integration is old and I'm not sure whether it's updated enough to trust. Besides, I think there are far better tools to do this kind of thing.
Better Links Pro doesn't include this social feature, but I don't blame it. It does seem like unnecessary bloat for a link plugin.
Pretty Link Lite and Pro offer a bookmarklet that works on desktop and mobile browsers for creating links from the page you're visiting. Pretty Link Pro offers a custom bookmarklet option for setting some extra defaults.
Better Links Pro offers a basic bookmarklet that works just as well. You can also import your Pretty Link Lite and Pretty Link Pro data (except click data). This took less than half a minute to import 50 of my links from my personal blog.
Pretty Link Lite/Pro and Better Links Pro let you organize your links. Pretty Link calls them “groups.”
Better Links Pro calls them “categories” and looks more like category and tag creation you've seen before in WordPress.
By using the standard WordPress hierarchical system for categories, it would seem that a standard link with Better Links Pro can be in multiple categories, while Pretty Link Lite/Pro offer only one. But it seems that Better Links Pro 1.1.1 doesn't allow categorization for standard links, yet.
Manually creating new links.
Pretty Link Lite/Pro offers two ways to manually create links: through a simple widget on the WordPress dashboard and through a separate page with full control. Pretty Link Pro uses a custom interface with tabs for basic options and advanced (Pro) options.
Better Links Pro uses an interface similar to the rest of WordPress post- and page-creation pages. Instead of tabs, selecting different types of URL destinations presents a few different options for each.
Pretty Link Lite will allow a single destination for each link, Pretty Link Pro can split the destinations according to percentages (or weights), and Better Links Pro evenly splits the destinations for this one link.
But Better Links Pro provides a new kind of destination for different geographies. This means I could make a single
/amazonURL that will automatically take visitors to the appropriate Amazon website for their country, based on their IP location when they use the link.
This is wonderful if you have an international audience and want to monetize with Amazon or other affiliate links that offer different programs for different countries. With Pretty Link Lite/Pro, I would've had to make a landing page on my own site handle the country detection and redirection, making an extra step for visitors.
All three link plugins will automatically populate the Name/Title field with the title from the destination URL. They also offer similar default overrides for redirect type and nofollow. But Better Links Pro allows any link to open in a new window or in the current window. Better Links Pro does not allow turning off stats for one link or another.
Pretty Link Lite/Pro can optionally pass URL parameters (
/amazon?key=something&here=there) on to the destination URL, but Better Links Pro neither offers nor handles these at all (as of 1.1.1).
A handy little feature Better Links Pro offers is a “Copy” link to copy my new friendly URL to my clipboard. Pretty Link doesn't offer any easy way to do this on link creation.
Better Links Pro and Pretty Link Pro (not Lite) offer similar keyword-replacement to automatically hyperlink words or phrases with my own URL. Pretty Link Pro offers a little more by also replacing certain URLs with my own URL (this is great for easily updating old links to new affiliate links).
Pretty Link Pro offers a specific feature for split-testing, while Better Links Pro uses the simple multiple destinations with measured results through the stats.
Automatic link creation on content
The first feature that attracted me to Pretty Link Pro was its automatic link creation when I'm creating a page or post. Right in the editor, I could quickly set the friendly URL to use when publish the page or post without having to change my post slug.
Better Links Pro currently doesn't offer this same feature for linking to the content I'm currently creating. It takes the approach of easily making friendly URLs to other content while I'm creating this content.
Just click on the “Better Links” button to search your existing links or quickly create a new one.
Either inserting or creating a new link provide two insertion methods: standard (“Insert”) and hyperlink (“Insert Raw”). The behavior of both of these wasn't what I expected and I had to experiment to realize what was happening.
Clicking “Insert” will give you a shortcode, like
[bl id="452"][/bl]. This won't make a visible link for the public until you put text inside of the shortcode, like,
Alternatively, clicking “Insert Raw” will do nothing—no link, now raw URL (what I expected), and now further dialog. It's only when you selected the text to hyperlink before clicking “Better Links” that “Insert Raw” will hyperlink your text with the friendly URL. It's a little confusing and counterintuitive in version 1.1.1. I wouldn't be surprised if they improve this in a future version.
Better Links Pro doesn't currently offer additional features (except maybe the future ability to put links into categories?)
Pretty Link Pro offers a host of additional features, but the usefulness of some is debatable.