Pro Tip: Use Bit.ly to View Your Competition's Twitter and Facebook Reach

Did you know that you can see how many clicks, Twitter and Facebook shares a link has received with bit.ly? Give this little method a try and see what it can do for you!
Written by Stephen Chapman, Contributor

Stepping away from strictly SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for a moment, I want to take a few minutes to share an idea with all of you that you may not be aware of.

If you use bit.ly to shorten a URL, you can then take that shortened URL and gather some quick and potentially useful metrics from it. Try the following steps:

1 - Visit bit.ly.

2 - In the box, enter the URL you are interested in discovering information about (such as an article from a competitor's Web site or an article you wrote last month), then press "Enter" or click "Shorten."

3 - Copy your freshly-shortened link (it will look similar to "Example A" below), paste it into the address bar of your browser (the place where you would manually enter a URL to visit), then add a + (that's a plus sign) onto the end of it (to make it look like "Example B" below) and hit enter.

Example A: http://bit.ly/cSiH9i

Example B: http://bit.ly/cSiH9i+

Once you arrive at the bit.ly analytics page for your link, you can now go through and see how many clicks that link has received through any and all bit.ly promotion! Yes, that means that bit.ly keeps track of all the bit.ly links created by any given person to point to the same URL and factors them all together into one analytical page. In other words, if I go to bit.ly and create a link that points to google.com, then you go to bit.ly and create your own bit.ly link that points to google.com, bit.ly knows that they're both pointing to the same page and factors their data together as if there was only ever one bit.ly link pointing to google.com.

You can see who and how many people twote (past tense of "tweet," I suppose) the link, how many people on Facebook shared and/or liked the link, and more. As I alluded to above, this is also useful for if you see a bit.ly link shared on Twitter or elsewhere and you want to take a quick look at how well it may or may not be performing. Simply copy the bit.ly link, paste it into your address bar, add the + to the end of it, hit enter, and voila. Now, I don't want to dig in too much more, because I want to keep this relatively short. Likewise, I really want you to spend some time trying this out with a few different links and clicking around on all the tabs and links on the bit.ly analytics page.

Bear in mind that there's no guarantee that any given link was shared using bit.ly -- especially when other URL shortening services exist (including Google's latest, goo.gl) -- so this little tip may not pan out for you every time. More often than not, though, my personal results with utilizing this method have been quite enlightening (and -- in a nerdy kind of way -- fun). Additionally, the data you find on bit.ly shouldn't be used as the sole indicator of how well a link may or may not be performing, because there are myriad other ways to share content. With that said, this little tip certainly does have its time and place!

Feel free to share any other tips you may have like this as I'm sure my readers would certainly love to see them!

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