URL Shortening

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Long URLs are difficult to remember and hard to pass along. URL shortening is a popular technique where a web user can make a web page available under a very short URL in addition to the original address. These URL shortening services are helpful if your web addresses for your web site and blog site start to get long and links will break when sending in an email. Particularly, these services are important for Twitter users since Twitter allows for only 140 characters in any message.

Today, many Web services offer URL redirection with real-time link tracking.  Most of these sites shorten Web addresses quickly and easily, with no registration required.  Here are my selected 10 sites that allow you to shorten, share, and track your links:

Though URL shortening service is a helpful tool, users need to keep in mind that spammers have also used URL shortening services to cover their tracks. So, it is important to use a reliable URL shortening service that provides the filtering of all shortened links through services like Google Safe Browsing.

What URL shortening services do you use?  Please feel free to share your favorite URL shortening services and provide your comments.

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About Steve Yuen

I am a Professor Emeritus of Instructional Technology and Design at The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, United States.
This entry was posted in Blog, Mobile Web Design, Publishing, Web 2.0, Web Design and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to URL Shortening

  1. davidsmora says:

    I think URL shortening services are very important to today’s web surfer. For example, imagine a high school teacher who gives her students a lengthy URL for a week’s worth of homework assignments. I would predict that some of her students would either copy down the URL incorrectly or type the wrong URL in their web browsers. Either way, long and wordy URLs often spell trouble. Fortunately, URL shortening services can help prevent these issues.

    Personally, I have a little bit of experience with several of these shortening services (mainly bit.ly and TinyURL). I was first introduced to TinyURL a few years ago when I signed up for a sports message board. In order to embed a photo collage as my electronic signature, I had to shorten the image URL from my hosting site. One of the popular posters on the site suggested that I try TinyURL. As a result, the message board accepted my newly shorten URL and my photo was displayed. In fact, I still primarily use TinyURL today because of that experience. I also think bit.ly is a great resource. Specifically, I think bit.ly is very powerful because it allows users to directly upload photos and videos to its website.

    Furthermore, I agree that URL shortening services are helpful for sites like Twitter. Since Twitter only allows a short amount of characters, these sites can help a user include an otherwise lengthy URL in his tweets. I’ve also noticed that several news websites (e.g. CNN, WDSU, Nola.com) rely on bit.ly to link articles in their tweets. I wouldn’t be surprised if more of these URL shortening sites would pop up to accommodate the Twitter phenomenon.

    Again, I think these URL shortening services are really helpful. I think any web surfer could benefit from these resources. Whether you’re copying a link into HTML, tweeting the latest news from your favorite news site or giving out a homework assignment link, these services are useful for all. I know I plan on continuing this valuable tool for a long time!

  2. jwoodwards says:

    Before reading this post, I’d never given a great deal of thought to URL shortening services. Perhaps I viewed these services as a matter of convenience rather than an opportunity to make real improvements. After thinking about the presented set of URL shortening services, it quickly became obvious that these services are a very useful tool.

    Long URLs are one of those tedious items that can cause a great deal of aggravation for both Web surfers and technologist. If you copy down one character wrong, then the entire link does not work. This can also cause frustration when trying to write a code or xml file. Even some mainstream software applications, such as PowerPoint, have issues when a link or hyperlink is excessively long. I thought David Mora made an excellent point concerning URL links and students. Teachers can erase a lot of the potential for error (and excuses) by creating short URL links.

    I appreciated two comments made by Dr. Yuen. Certainly, I agree with Dr. Yuen in that this is a useful application for Twitter users, but even more insightful, I thought the comments about spammers use of URL shortening devices was right on target. I think that URL shortening devices could cover the tracks of a variety of malicious content, from viruses to malware. Thus, there is some dark potential for URL shortening devices. On the other hand, until I read this post, I did not know that Google Safe Browsing even existed. This is a quick, easy way to check the validity of a URL before visiting a site, if in doubt.

  3. mp3 finder says:

    hi nice post,
    just wanna adding some good url shortening left, its http://shor7.com can make intetifier your url. so you can short your url according to your identifier word to make more easy to remember.
    once gain.. thanks for your info.

  4. Kaylene says:

    I hadn’t really thought about the short URLs that I see people using, so this was a good update for me. Typing long URL addresses has become tedious, not to mention difficult because a simple typo sends you to never-never land, AKA 404 error. I seldom try to type in an address because of that. On the other hand, people are always reading a web address to me, expecting me to copy it down correctly and then visit the site. I seldom go there just because of the long URL. However, a short one has a better change of me actually checking it out.

    Also, I immediately can see how I will be able to use it for the class I teach. I am going to create a Website for the class this summer. Getting a shorter URL will help students find the class more easily, and maybe remember it so they can’t add another to their repertoire of excuses. I tried the suggestion in the comment about shor7.com, but found the URL with an identifier supplied just ended up being another long URL, and that defeats the purpose.

    I know it becomes essential when trying to use twitter or any site that limits your character count. It would also be useful for mobile browsing — fewer characters to type in to go where you are trying to go.

    I noticed that WordPress provides a short link to your blog posts, which is also another useful idea built in to the site.

  5. Donna Parker says:

    Okay, I should have invented this service. I cannot tell you how many times I have wished for shorter URLs. It is so frustrating when you have to copy letter-by-letter (and symbol-by-symbol) a URL. Even if you use the copy command, you have to remember not to copy over it before you use it. It never fails that I find sites with the longest names. Sometimes in e-mails the links or URL names are broken and the recipient has to fix it before he/she uses the link. Trying to use small screens such as cell phone screens and netbooks, make long URLs difficult if not impossible to use. I have used TinyURL, and it seems to be a quick and easy solution for shortening URLs to a useable form. Thank for the heads-up on spammers. I was not aware that they would use them as well to cover their tracks. I’ll certainly be paying closer attention to the URLs from now on. Long URLs are cumbersome and difficult to track. I also like TrackStar as far as keeping a record of sites that I would like to revisit or sites that are related to particular research projects. Even though TrackStar does not shorten URLs, it is a good place to store URLs to particular sites. TrackStar also gives you an area to write a short description of the site or to write yourself a note as to why you liked it. Thanks for the list of additional URL shortening sites. I’ve never heard of some of these, but I intend to investigate further. I’ll also take your recommendation about the Google one.

  6. I am also new to the benefits of URL shortening and have found it a necessity in Twitter, where a maximum character length is set. In my case, I was trying to share the address of a journal article which was 168 characters long. Thanks to is.gd, I was able to shorten the link to 18 characters!!

    I appreciate Dr. Yuen’s top ten list, as it is always useful to have choice among tried and true resources.

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