URL shortening is the process of substantially shortening the characters of a Uniform Resource Locator (URL), while still keeping its ability to direct traffic to the desired page. This is done by utilizing redirects which directly links to the long URL on a webpage.
For example, the URL http://example.com/about/index.html can be shortened to http://sni.ml/h2by or the URL
http://example.com/assets/category_be/subcategory_C/FO/can be shortened to http://snip.ml/F00. The redirect name is often shorter than the original version.
How Does A URL Shortener Work?
URL shorteners work because of the webserver function named “redirects” (URL redirection). Simply put, the short URL (new URL) will redirect users to your long URL (old URL). When you input a URL in a browser, a HTTP command is sent to the webserver to transmit and fetch the requested webpage. There are a couple of redirects HTTP response code that might return, they include:
-303: (see author): A “see author” status is returned when the resource has been replaced.
-301: (permanent): A permanent redirect status is returned to indicate that the resource page has been moved permanently.
-302: (Temp): This redirect status is returned when a resource has been moved temporarily.
What Are The Benefit Of Shortening A URL?
1. Monitor Site Effectiveness and Clicks Tracking
Promoting your website and its contents requires a lot of time. It, therefore, becomes important that your focus is only on promotions that bring the highest traffic. How can you identify these high traffic sources? Well, a lot of URL shortening software allows you to track clicks and compare the effectiveness of each link. So you can use it to save time and to promote links only in channels that produced the best results.
2. Reduced Text
According to a web expert at Domains 4 Less, one of the nice benefits of a short URL is that it comes in handy especially for messaging technologies such as SMS that have a limit on the number of characters that can be used in a message. A short URL also reduces the amount of typing a user would have to do, especially when copying the URL from a print source. It is also easier to remember. For example, in November 2009, Bit.ly’s shortened links were assessed 2.1 billion times.
3. Short URLs Are More Memorable
It is so much simpler to remember and share short URLs as opposed to long ones, especially if the long URLs contain numbers. Which URL would be easier to link in a presentation, a short one or the long one?
Which URL would be easier to call out to a room full of people, if you were to run out of the business class card in a networking event? Which URL would be easier to give out to people? The short one, of course!
4. Greater User Trust
Sites that have extremely long URLs and contain strange characters just look spammy. A clean branded URL would give your site a more trustworthy and authoritative look.
What Are the Disadvantages of Using a Third-party URL Shortening Service?
1. Service Disruptions and Failures
There is always the probability that your preferred URL shortening service would suddenly go offline or shutdown. In times like this, your shortened URLs will not work. In order to avoid disruptions that can happen as a result of service interruptions, you should choose a URL shortening service that has a good reputation for judiciously monitoring its service for spam links and has been around for a long time.
2. Common Keywords Are Often Not Available
A lot of URL shortening services do not provide customization/editing features for keywords. Keywords are often randomly generated – made up of randomly generated numbers and letters which do nothing for your SEO ranking.
Even when it is provided, you would have to compete with thousands of other users who have their sight set on the same keyword. For example, bit.ly/marketing would most probably be unavailable and there are no guarantees that you will find a similar keyword to match your needs.
3. Stats Are Public
If you use a link shortening service like Bit.ly, your competitors can spy on you by including + sign at the end of your URL in order to get access to your links and monitor performance.
How To Create Short Custom URLs Using Your Domain
This is pretty simple to do if you use YOURLS (your own URL shortener). This is a free PHP script created by Oz Richard and Lester Chan that allows you to create short URLs that are similar to the ones created by Biy.ly and TinyURL. YOURLS comes with a WordPress plug-in and a developer API.
To configure and install YOURLS, follow these steps:
● Download the most recent version, unzip it and start up your preferred text editor.
Locate include/config-sample.php, and rename it to include /config.php and open in editor.
Here are some mandatory settings you would need to change: yourls_db_name, yourls_db_user, yourls_site and yourls_dB_pass.
You would then need to change passwords for username 1 and username 2. All the other settings are optional. We, however, suggest that you go through the entire thing, as it is quite self-explanatory.
Don’t forget to create a database – using the name you’ve imputed for yourls_db_name. If your web hosting plan provides you with a cPanel interface, you can login and find “MySQL database” under the databases:
Upload all folders and files in the exact same format as the root folder of your web hosting account. Your root folder name might be anything from www. public_HTML or HTML
You’re almost done! Start up your browser, input your domain name as a URL, then/admin/install.php. For example, http://your sites.com/admin/install.php
You can now login and begin creating your unique short URL. You should also check out the tools available if you would like to create a bookmarklet.