The long and the short of it

Image of a web address

Image courtesy of [Vlado] at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What a URL shortener is & why should you use it

Your web address, the big long one that starts with http://, ends in .ie or .com and everything in between is your URL (Uniform Resource Locator).

It can be converted into a condensed format by an online application called a URL shortener.

This can be done easily with the touch of a few ‘magic’ buttons. You just copy the full URL of a website and paste it into the shortener tool and ‘hey presto’ you have the shortened version which will be between 10 to 20 characters long.

Why use it?

1. Twitter posts

With a limit of 140 characters, including a message and a full URL in a Twitter post can be challenging. And your followers will find it annoying if your tweet is filled with just a URL and no story. Using a short link will allow you room to explain to your followers what the link is about.

2. Shortened URLs are easier on the eye

This WordPress shortlink, http://wp.me/P5P0C9-2u,  is more aesthetically pleasing than the regular URL of   https://digimarkers.wordpress.com/helpful-tips-3/funding-schemes/. Short links are neater, tidier and well, prettier!

3. Tracking & monitoring

Online marketers should note that some URL shortening tools, e.g.  Google Shortner come with a tracking feature that allows users to monitor how many times the shortened linked has been clicked over a certain period.

Which one to use?

There are many URL shorteners, you can decide which one will suit your needs best. As I am currently using WordPress as a website host, I am finding its shortlink service convenient and it works on Twitter and Facebook.

I also find that Google Shortner and Bitly are easy to use. Twitter has its own link shortener but it cannot be used on any other social media platforms. If you don’t shorten your link before posting, Twitter will automatically do it for you, limiting the link for use on Twitter only.

Any downsides?

There is only one I can think of and it is the same for regular URLs. You need to be careful before clicking on short links without explanations or from people with unverified accounts as you don’t want to be led up the garden path to a malicious website.

If I have made this post too ‘short’ and  left anything out, please let me know by leaving a comment.

Author: Aideen Sutton

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