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11 Feb 2016

url site shortener short website small
In the coming weeks I'll be writing a number of articles on URL Shorteners. I have already been using Shortened URL's for quite a while and it wasn't until people started asking me with that I realised that they are only really understood by individuals engaged in On-line Business. And this series of articles aims to provde something for the beginner and, hopefully, something to the more seasoned Online Professional.

url site shortener short website small

With this first article I will cover What is a URL Shortener along with what are the advantages and disadvantages of using one. I will also provide an 'Initial' set of URL Shortening Providers (you'll find over 200 in existence today!) which, over time, I'll provide further information on... so check back if you want more information... or let me know should you prefer a particular provider reviewed somewhat quicker.

In future articles I'll cover, in addition to the provider reviews, a look at Free vs Covered services; how to check and validate a shortened link after which on to some tracking information.

Exactly what is a URL Shortener?

A URL Shortener is just a technique on the Internet when planning on taking a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) and rendering it substantially shorter in size whilst still directing for the required Internet page.

This can be done by using an HTTP Redirect on a domain name that is short, which links to the web page that has a long URL.

What are the Advantages of Using a URL Shortener?

Social networking
With the advent of Social networking sites like Twitter and Identi.ca that only allow a relatively very few characters in a message, using long URL's meant there was little or no space to the actual message. Shortening the URL allows longer messages to get included alongside the URL.

Disguise
Shortening the URL permits the originating web address to be disguised. This has some disadvantages which I will cover later but, from the positive perspective, it will allow an address to make 'more presentable' i.e. by removing all of the seemingly random characters also to hide the originating domain name that, for whatever reason, people may well not choose to click on.

Readability
Long URL's are sometime hard to read and if you have to write one down then the chances or recording the URL incorrectly are high.

Memorable
Different color leaves as readability the shortened URL is way more memorable. In many cases it is possible to format the URL with a description of your own choosing. Making URL's memorable has obvious advantages coming from a marketing perspective. It is much easier to remember bbc.co.uk/ rather than brainyquote.com/quotes/topics/topic_motivational5.html?vm=l

Accumulate Statistics
For Internet or Internet marketers URL Shorteners provide a mechanism to monitor when, where and how often a URL is clicked upon. Knowing these statistics is essential to the success of anyone working on-line as you've to know your audience and when they are apt to be online and what types of product they're likely to purchase. I am going to come back to tracking and statistics in a future post.

Seo (SEO)
A good URL shortening service will transfer information to the target page by using something called a 301 redirect. I cannot go into the technical details in this posting but this will help your page to rank with sites for example Google.

Free Service
Many of the URL services are free of charge of charge. For most uses e.g. Social websites, a free service is absolutely fine. I am going to discuss in a future post the advantages and disadvantages of free vs purchased URL Shorteners.

What are the Disadvantages utilizing a URL Shortener?

Like the majority of things in life there is usually a balance between advantages and disadvantages. The same is true of URL Shorteners.

Spamming
Because you cannot see the information the link is used by spammers as an easy way of getting people to open links that they might otherwise ignore.

URL Shorteners Get Closed
Some URL Shorteners get closed down precisely because they don't control how much spam that derives from their service. Should this happen and you have been using the service then your entire links become useless.

By using a Third Party Provider
The URL Shortener is effectively another third party in the process between you setting up a URL and sending it in your audience. You should therefore choose your provider carefully.

Some Sites Do not let Shortened URL's
Due to the amount of spam associated with some URL Shorteners, some sites will not likely accept shortened URL's. This will be relevant for Affiliate Marketers as some providers won't allow shortended links that talk about affiliate products, as they class this as spam!

Redirection Could cause Performance Issues
To solve a shortened URL requires a supplementary translation between the shortened URL and also the target URL. Whilst this should actually be negligible it will also depend on the provider you use to shorten your URL's.

Are URL Shorteners Whether positive or negative?
In my opinion URL Shorteners have a valid role to experience, particularly where the life expectancy or a URL is not long... which is particularly so of Social Media.

A number of the disadvantages around spam and phishing may be true of any URL, not simply shortened ones... the same is true with all links, be cautious what you click on!

My principle is that I use a URL Shortener for Social Media and for short term affiliate campaigns. If I write articles or e-books i expect to live for a longer period of time then I uses the domain name... and mask this if it's too long.


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