Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) are the fabric of the web. A URL is an address to a resource (file, database query, command output, etc.) on the internet. Since the advent of blogging technologies that have a premium on the number of characters per post, there had been a consistent need to develop algorithms that could reduce the number of characters a URL could occupy and recode them into aesthetically pleasing & manageable URLs. Techniques have been developed and in today’s fast-paced world in which the number of characters matter, shorter is better. Services that generate short URLs from long URLs are known as URL shorteners.
BENEFITS OF URL SHORTENING
01. URL shorteners, first and foremost, allow you to personalize a URL
and provide you with analytics details on the activity of your URL
(e.g. click data, geographical location of clickers, etc.). These help
if you sell products or services and need to know say, where your core
clients are based.
02. Short URLs are easier to share thus they promote the act of
sharing. Which would find easier to remember & share i.e.;
(1) http://thetechguysblog.com/about/#.U9WWs12t-o8, or
(2) http://bit.do/abouttechguys ?
03. A few URL shorteners can shorten multiple pages into one URL. From
my experience, the short URL’s immediate destination is usually that
of a page on the shortener’s website with individual URLs to web pages
you put up. This may come in handy if a user doesn’t own a website but
has a presence on the internet across several websites.
04. Short URLs are best to use when creating a QR code for a web page
because QR codes created from them have a (relatively) small surface
area and/or have larger dots so that they are easier to scan them from
PITFALLS OF URL SHORTENING
01. URL shorteners redirect a user to a longer URL from a shorter one.
This theoretically implies that it takes a longer period of time
getting to a page via a short URL than it is clicking on its original
URL, hence short URLs generally slow down browsing.
02. You do not have any ownership over the short URL, thus you do not
have any control over security and/or longevity of the link.
03. URL shorteners are popular among spammers and if you use the same
URL shortener as they do in e-mails, you run the risk of having your
e-mail address blocked by your IPS (Internet Service Provider). As an
internet user, and as usually warned when clicking on unfamiliar
links, you should also be aware of the fact that shortened URLs can
possibly pass off as spam.
04. If the URL shortener’s servers happen to get hacked, every link
becomes a potential phishing attack.
05. If the URL shortener folds (ceases operations), all links are
deleted from the company’s database and every short URL you created
with that shortener will break.
06. It is not possible to include descriptive/anchor text to your
short URL if the URL shortener you use does not provide custom URL
options. Descriptive text in a URL increases the web page’s chances of
not only getting picked up by search engines in related searches, but
also those of it getting a higher ranking among search hits.
PROMINENT URL SHORTENERS