Why You Might Want to Use a URL Shortener

URL is the abbreviation for Uniform Resource Locator. A URL is the global address of documents and other resources on the World Wide Web. For instance, this newsletter’s home page is found at a URL of http://www.eogn.com.

URL_shortenerWhen writing email messages, social media messages, web pages, articles for newsletters or magazines, or simply taking notes for your own usage later, it is easy to copy-and-paste a URL into the text. But what if you want to print your document out or give a presentation with the link? Many web addresses run 100 characters or longer and contain a mish-mash of upper and lower case letters, punctuation marks, and more. Try entering those into a web browser manually!

A long URL that is shortened by a URL shortener is the best idea for making web pages easier to share. Instead of 100+ character monstrosities that are ugly to look at and impossible to remember or type, using a URL shortener like goo.gl or TinyURL makes them much more manageable.

For instance, my recent article on Scottish Chapbooks are Now Online refers to more information available at http://www.nls.uk/catalogues/online/snpc/detail.cfm?id=291&subjectid=102&collection=291&keyword=&passedsubject=102&passedcollection=291&passedkeyword=&origin=browse.

Would you like to enter that address into a web browser by hand? Or perhaps you would prefer to enter http://goo.gl/IWWPSj?

I prefer goo.gl because it is reliable, doesn’t require a log-in to use it, and because it provides statistics about the number of times other people have clicked on the shortened URL. That helps me analyze which articles and topics are the most popular amongst newsletter readers.

Goo.gl may be found at http://goo.gl (a very short URL that is easy to remember) while TinyURL may be found at http://tinyurl.com. If either of those two doesn’t meet your needs, you can find a lengthy list of other URL shorteners at http://bit.do/list-of-url-shorteners.php.

HINT: Most URL shorteners are case sensitive. If entering a short URL manually, make sure you enter the letters in proper upper and lower case exactly as shown.

13 Comments

In emails I’ve seen the use of //tinyurl, clicked on it, only to find a very long address. I’m glad to know what it is and how to get to it, and other URL shorteners. While I’m a very fast typist, I’m not always accurate, and the long URLs don’t make much sense to me. I plan to give one of these a try when I want to pass on a long URL and save both myself and others time and effort. Thanks!

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I’ve used TinyURL for years. Its advantage over goo.gl is that you can bookmark tinyurl.com (I have it as a favorite, so it’s visible on my browser’s toolbar) and you can just click on it from any page; in a second, you can drag across the short url and copy it. With goo.gl, you have to copy the long url you want to shorten, then go to goo.gl, paste it in, click to shorten and copy the result. TinyURL has fewer steps and is faster.

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    You can add the goo.gl extension to the chrome browser. If you do that, when you are on the address you want to shorten, all you have to do is select the goo.gl icon.

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I always use tinyurl and have blessed whoever created it! I am surprised when people include a very long URL in messages or emails with the caveat that it might ‘break’. It is so easy to add the shortened version – “Simples”. (the saying on a popular UK advertisement!)

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I don’t understand the comment about requiring a log-in to use Tiny URL. I like Tiny URL because I can make a custom alias containing a hint of where the URL will take you, e.g. http://tinyurl.com/eogn-url should take you to this article.

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What I don’t like about short URLs is that you cannot immediately see where you are being taken – a basic rule of “safe browsing”.

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    If you want to check out a short URL before clicking on it, there are several online services that will check it out for you. The one that I use (it is easy to remember) is http://www.checkshorturl.com

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    Thanks, CheckShortURL looks useful.
    I have managed to link it into the “Advanced URL Builder” add-in for Firefox, so that if the short url is spelt out (rather than behind text) I can right click on it and get taken to the CheckShortURL decoding of the link.
    It would be even better if the decode came up immediately on a right click (or showed as a tooltip).

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I have used tinyurl for a number of years and have found it invaluable.

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When confronted with long UR when writing my blog, I usually simply highlight the appropriate word then click on the Hyperlink icon and paste the URL I can do the same in email. This seems faster than having to go to another website, create the tinyurl and then copy & paste the tinyurl into a message.

Am I missing something?

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    Inserting a URL as a hyperlink into a word or phase works well for MOST people reading the information later. However, a minority of people cannot click on hyperlinked words. Some anti-virus and “Internet security” products will block such hyperlinks. I think AOL also once had a “safety mode” that was recommended for newcomers. That blocked such embedded links although I think the company dropped that some time ago. Also, if anyone is reading printed information made from your web site when after printing it out, the embedded hyperlink doesn’t work for them. Again, what you are doing will work well for MOST people.

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I’ve been using bit.ly for my short links for a number of years, especially when I’m writing articles for print magazines or preparing PowerPoint presentations and also when using URLs in my genealogy source citations. I have a browser extension that keeps me logged in, it also gives me statistics about how many times a link is clicked but what I like best about it is that it lets me customize the short link so that it is easier to remember or type. For example, this link will lead to this article: bit.ly/EOGNShort.

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As a devout believer in link-building, I feel that I should spread the good news about http://capsulink.com. Capsulink allows you to put your links into short capsules to make sure that they always function properly and deliver traffic to where it’s supposed to end up.

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