A newsletter reader wrote today and asked, "I keep seeing web addresses like http:/goo... They are new and strange to me anyway. Would you do an article about these new "prefixes?" This is the article she suggested.
In short, those "goo.gl" links are part of a great new service from Google. The Google URL Shortener at goo.gl is a service that takes long URLs (web addresses) and squeezes them into fewer characters to make a link easier to share, tweet, or email to friends.
Over the years, I have experimented with a number of URL shortening services, including TinyURL.com, bit.ly, ShortURL.com, and others. However, when I first tried Google's new service, I quickly dropped the others.
What is a URL shortening service?
Some URLs (web addresses) published in this newsletter can be quite long, sometimes wrapping over 2, 3, or more lines of text in the newsletter. If your email program displays active "hotlinks" to URLs, this isn't much of a problem, other than making for long links and wasting paper if you print the article. However, a number of email services strip out the links in received messages. Anyone using one of those email services will have to manually re-type the link in or else copy-and-paste it into a web browser.
Which of the following would you rather enter by hand?
Both will take you to the same web page.
Even better, goo.gl provides statistics. I can log into http://goo.gl and see how many people have clicked on each link I created with this service. This gives me excellent feedback as to how popular each article containing a shortened URL is with newsletter readers. Such feedback is a big help when deciding what future articles to write.
Google's URL Shortener service also provides another benefit I have not seen in other, competitive services: increased security. The Google URL Shortener service displays a warning message if the short URL points to a suspected malware, phishing, or spam website. When I see links on other web sites, I am more likely to click on links that begin with http://goo.gl than with any other service's links. I like the extra level of security available from Google.
How can You Use the Google URL Shortener in your email messages, blog, or on Twitter and Facebook?
Go to goo.gl and paste the long URL you wish to shorten into the input box at the top of the page. Click "Shorten," and to the right of the box you’ll see a short goo.gl URL that can be copied and pasted anywhere you’d like to share it.
If you’d like to track the analytics of your shortened URL, first sign in to your Google Account before shortening your URL. Your shortened URL will automatically be added to your goo.gl history and you can return to http://goo.gl to see that history with all the statistics.
You can find a long list of many other URL shortening services at http://mashable.com/2008/01/08/url-shortening-services/. Most of the others do not offer statistics or protection from suspected malware, phishing, or spam websites.
You can find more information about Google's URL Shortener service at http://www.google.com/support/websearch/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=190768
I like http://goo.gl links and hope to use a lot of them in future newsletters!