Google URL shortener
January 23, 2022
Nowadays there are so many sites dealing with shortening links online, some free and some paid, some with some features and some with others. In December 2009, Google was one of the first to launch its URL shortening service, often known as goo.gl. In September 2010 it created the dedicated website goo.gl, which is no longer existing and has been replaced by other URL shorteners. Let’s see how the URL shortening service owned by Google used to work and how the more modern URL shorteners that we currently find online have changed since then.
Google URL shortener: one of the first URL shorteners
As we can read in Google guides, in 2009 Google launched its own URL shortener in order to help people more easily share links and measure traffic online. The user could access a list of shortened URLs after logging in to his Google account: there, he could find a lot of information recorded, such as real-time analytics data, traffic over time, to referrers and visitor profiles. Since then, many services that do the same thing have emerged, so Google decided to refocus its efforts and turn down support for goo.gl in 2018. It was replaced by Firebase Dynamic Links, also known as FDL. This is a system of creation of dynamic links, called FDLs, which are smart URLs that allow the user to send existing and potential others to any location within an iOS, Android or web app. However, even if the Google URL shortener sunsetted, all the existing links continued to redirect to the intended destination until March 30, 2019. After this date, Google discontinued the service and all links continued to redirect to the intended destination.
Other URL shorteners after the sunset of goo.gl: how do they work?
Because of the disappearance of goo.gl, Google recommends the users who want to create new short links to check out other popular services that work on URL shortening. But how do these systems actually work? In brief, URL shorteners are systems which make links substantially shorter and still directing to the required page. They can achieve this aim thanks to the use of a redirect, which links to the web page that had the original long URL. These systems have become very popular especially for marketing reasons, because a redirect domain name limits the number of characters in the link and so creates a more friendly URL, often desired for messaging technologies. These technologies, in fact, often limit the number of characters required in a message (for example SMS), so reducing the amount of typing can be very important to manage sending the message or simply to avoid paying extra money. In addition to this, a shorter link is easier to remember, to copy (if a reader is copying the URL from a print source) and also to receive trust: a user is often suspicious about too long and incomprehensible links, because he can’t immediately understand where they lead to and he is afraid that they might cause some malfunction or virus to his phone (all risks that are avoided by using a URL shortener like ours).