Everyone who is on Twitter knows about URL Shorteners. When you tweet, your goal is to pack as much info into that 140 characters as possible, so why would you want to waste it on a lengthy URL? Many websites and blogs have put together a naming process that includes the title of their article (to assist with SEO), but that could very well take up more than your available space to Tweet! So, although URL shorteners were around before Twitter and other social media websites, they now became a necessity. It’s pretty much standard that you’re not going to see a full website URL when you glance at your Twitter stream.
But are they good for anything else? Absolutely. Whether you prefer bit.ly or tinyurl or even the new goo.gl shorteners, they have other uses than paring down your characters for social networking – although that’s still the way that most of us will use them!
Top Ways to Use URL Shorteners:
- Customize Your Extension:
Many of the URL shorteners allow you to choose your own extension (assuming it is still available) in place of the random string of characters. If it’s something that you want your users to easily remember, or if it is a URL you will be using frequently (home page of your blog perhaps?) – try to obtain that quickly. [Shorteners That Allow Customization: bit.ly, tr.im, cli.gs, snurl, budURL, tinyURL, Doiop]
- Compile and Track Data:
Several of the URL shorteners track data for you! You can gather the amount of times your URL has been clicked, geographic location, inbound links, and more. This gives you additional information than just seeing referring links from Twitter on your Google Analytics. [Shorteners That Track Data: bit.ly, tr.im, cli.gs, snurl, budURL, kl.am, zi.ma]
- Get Promoted:
Some of the URL Shorteners actually promote the top clicked links – so you could get some free visitors and readers to your website! It’s not a given, but could be beneficial all the same. [Shorteners That Promote Links: bit.ly (popular links on Twitter), kl.am (popular links on their website), Snurl (shows interesting ones on Browse Snips)]
What is your favorite URL Shortener?
Nikki Katz is the Managing Editor for the BlogWorld Blog. Feel free to follow her Twitter @nikki_blogworld and @katzni
I use bit.ly for all the reasons you mention above. It’s a useful tool. I’m also just a curious guy, so when I send out an email even though there are no character restrictions I use bit.ly just to see if anyone really clicks on the links I send.
I have noticed one potential drawback to using shorteners though, you don’t get to see the actual domain you’re clicking through to. So on my blog for example I was using shortners just to track click throughs but I noticed when I was on other people’s sites I would hover over the link to see the URL as a way of deciding if I wanted to click through.
I stopped using bit.ly on my blog because I think people get more information by being able to see the site I’m linking to rather than a random character string.
I completely agree with your point Sid. I hate not being able to tell where URL shortened link is sending me. In fact I don’t click on lots of shortened links from people I don’t know well. None of us want to get rickrolled or even worse get some routed to some hackers virus.
My favorite shortener is my custom one: http://itswa.de. I use it with the free Bit.ly Pro service.
Extremely good point Sid and Rick. I actually don’t even like clicking on shortened links from people I know well on Twitter! I never know what exactly is going to pop up.