[B][U]Making use of [I]Short URL[/I] redirection services![/U][/B]
The web is awash with web addresses, pointing to all sorts of places, and some of those web addresses are pretty long, with all those slashes, dots and dashes in them, it can be difficult to remember and communicate them to other people.
But with the invention of the Short URL redirection services, you are given the chance to cut those URLs down to size.
What is a Short URL Redirection Service?
A Short URL Redirection Service is basically a web site that enables you to created shorter web addresses, that in turn point or forward users on to another web address.
They store the long web addresses, and issue you with a unique web addresses from their domain name. Any request made to that domain name will automatically redirect to the long web address that you wanted to redirect. The unique URL is usually a short random selection of characters - letters and numbers.
But, what the heck would you want to do that??
Good for talking!
Speaking out a domain name over the phone is pretty easy, if you’re only telling someone to try out freeola.co.uk or bbc.co.uk/radio1, but if you’ve got a longer, more complicated web address to dictate, using a short URL would be easier, and not so much of a worry if the person is typing it as you tell it.
Good for emailing!
Email is also popular these days, mostly with spammers it seems, but people do use it too. Because of the spammers and phishers though, HTML emails are looked at with caution, and a lot of people prefer the “text only” emails that are available.
Unfortunately, using text only email can mean that any links within the email are simply written out as text, rather than being interactive, so if you’re including a long web address, it can make the email look rather messy.
Using a short URL can prevent that cluttery look that people will see, especially so if you’re including “query string” information within the URL.
Good for texting!
No doubt that many of you own a mobile phone, and many of you use said mobile phone to text people short messages of “Hello”, “Fancy a pint” and “You’re Dumped – deal with it!”, but you might also want to text someone about a web page you feel they should view - not uncommon perhaps?
Not everyone has a fancy pants phone though, and sharing web addresses isn’t as easy when you can’t email each other attachments or live links, and typing out a long winded web address can not only be a pain for the text message sender, but the receiver has to be able to type it back out on their computer, and if the web address is particularly long, there is a greater chance that it’ll be split over multiple lines, and even multiple screen views.
Using a short URL service can help bother the sender and receiver in that area, as the short URL is easier to type out, and easier to copy back to a web browser once the messages has been received.
Good for Tweeting!
I’m sure you’ve all heard of Twitter, even if you don’t use it yourself, the name will ring a bell with most of you.
Twitter allows a message, or “Tweet” to span 140 characters, which is quite limited if you’re tweeting about a web site that you think people should see. If the web address is long, you’re left with even less space to write any extra about it in your tweet.
It’s no surprise then to realise that using a short URL service is very popular with the twitters who tweet here, tweet there, tweet everywhere. The short URL can be copied in to your tweet, and you’re left with more space to tell your twits what you’re tweeting about.
Easy to remember?
It’s easy to forget that web addresses are not only shared among emails, text, and tweets, but you might tell your friend while down the pub that he should check out a particular web page. Some people just tell someone to Google for a particular phrase to find it, because telling them to remember a random selection of characters is unlikely to result in someone remembering.
To help out with this, some services allow you to create a custom short URL, with your choice of text after the slash of the domain name, meaning you could create a simpler to remember Short URL with a keyword within it. If someone is familiar with a Short URL service, such as tinyurl.com, you could tell them to add whatever custom word after the URL exists, in the same way as telling them to Google something.
Of course, it can still be difficult to remember these things for some people!
Of course, there are some negatives to using a short URL service. One of which is that you have no real control over the short URL you are given.
The people who run the short URL service have complete control over the domain name, and they can delete the short URL redirect at any time, for any reason, or they may shut down the service, without a moments notice, and any links you’ve created become unusable.
Creating your own Short URL with your own domain name!
But if not knowing if your chosen short URL provider will continue to operate in future, you could always register your own domain name, and run your own little short URL service from your own hosting provider, ensuring you have the control over what happens with any short URL you’ve created.
Try them out for yourself!
So, a quick, simple, and free way to cut down your URL’s length, and share them with other over a variety of communication mediums.
There is the worry that the short URL will stop working, but for thins like Twitter or text messaging, it isn’t so much of a problem when you think that the short URL is only there to direct people to a long web address, and when they are they they’ll likely bookmark it if they want to come back to it.
I’ve listed a few short URL redirection web services below, but there are no doubt many more to choose from, because as with everything on the Internet, once someone does it, copycats are just around the next bend. Some have other features, which include allowing you to pick the text after the slash (if available), a previous of what the short URL links to, or to be alerted when a short URL is used for the first time.
Simple go bing about a few keywords and see what you come up with!
The examples bellow of some of the services on offer all link to Adding a logo or watermark to a video using Windows Movie Maker, which was written by Freeola member Hmmm…
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As always, any comments, questions, and especially corrections are welcome.
You can treat them like a bit.ly address to see the 'real' location as I mentioned earlier in this thread, by adding a '+' to the end.
I've just noticed that 'addthis' have recently (12/8/10) started to use Twitter's new URL shortener.
This is based on one of the new '.co' TLDs: t.co
I'll try tweeting this via Freeola's addthis button to make sure it works :¬)
EDIT: Yep - all good...
> Not sure if the other services offer similar functionality?
Just found that tinyurl also have a similar feature.
You need to stick 'preview.' in front of the link.
Not quite as neat as the bit.ly solution but still nice to know in case you want to 'see where you're going'!
You can also permanently turn on the 'preview' feature (uses a cookie) which is a good idea - both for the user that likes to check URLs and tinyurl to drive traffic to their site.
tinyurl's preview page doesn't provide statistics like bit.ly and they run more ads than me ;¬)