URL Shorteners

URL Shorteners

Short URLS: You will have seen them. They’ve been around for ages, but do you know what they are and how you can make them?

URL shorteningis a technique on the World Wide Web in which a URL may be made substantially shorter in length. This involves using an HTTP Redirect on a domain name that is short to link to a Webpagewhich has a long URL. For example, the URL http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=TinyURL&diff=283621022&oldid=283308287 can be shortened tohttp://tinyurl.com/mmw6lb [Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_URLs]

URL shorteners have had limited success during the social media boom. Companies like Bit.ly, tr.im, ow.ly and tinyurl all offer pretty much the same service, but why would you use them over your own?

For starters, tr.im is no longer operational after it wasn’t able to monetise its operation, so who says the others will be around long enough to be meaningful for you?

Let’s start by looking at the benefits of a url shortening service.

1. Shorter url’s give you more characters in twitter e.g. ct1.me/1 as opposed to http://ichristaylor.com/six-bad-things-by-charlie-huston/
2. Stats: you can track how many people click on these links and therefore quantify how useful your followers find the information you share. This is different to analytics as the link is tracked rather than the destination.
3. Location: where in the world are your readers (can also be obtained in analytics)
4. Traffic sources: where are your links being shared and clicked through.

If you publish anything on social networks, using a URL shortener is just good practice. Creating your own URL shortener is good business. Why? You’re not relying on a third party service that might not survive and you take control of stats. You’re also not competing with thousands of other users for custom links, and ultimately you will always have reasonably short links.
Combining google analytics, facebook insights etc with your URL shortener will enable you to see the bigger picture i.e. not just what people are reading on your site, but also what is driving them.

I’ve written a separate article on setting up your own URL shortening service, but if that’s not for you then definitely check out the services below.

There are many services to choose from, but Bit.ly stands out from the crowd as they offer a (free) Pro account which lets you use your own domain name.
Alternative solutions include, ow.ly, tinyurl.com and is.gd.

What the main social networks use.
Twitter: t.co;
facebook: fb.me;
wordpress: wp.me.
Google: goo.gl;
and YouTube: youtu.be

So what are you waiting for? Go get your own URL Shortening service.

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