If you’ve ever gotten an email with a long link that splits across multiple lines, forcing you to copy-and-paste the URL into your web browser, you’ll understand why you’d want to use a URL-shortening service. Wherever your communications are limited in length – social networking sites, chat rooms, SMS to mobile phones — short URLs are a better match, and they’re just easier to remember. There are a plethora of free URL-shortening services to select from, and they all function in the same way: they redirect your links through the service’s domain name. it often comes down to which will best suit your needs and personal preferences in the end. However, let’s take a deeper look at URL shortening in general, as well as some of the most important aspects to look for when selecting a short-URL service.
What Are the Advantages of Shorter URLs?
With the development of email newsletters and social networking sites like Twitter, Identi.ca, Plurk, and others, where every keystroke is counted, URL shorteners have become commonplace. When pushed to the limit, character cutting may obstruct proper communication, and – before you know it — you’ll be “tweeting” like a texting youngster. The load of communication is not carried by website URLs, on the other hand. The characters that make up the link aren’t insignificant, but it’s one of the few places where altering the characters won’t jeopardize the message’s intelligibility. Some social networking applications may automatically shorten any links that are longer than a specific length to conserve space.
How can you be sure where that shorter link will take you?
Because the real destination of a URL is hidden from the viewer when it is abbreviated, there is a risk of mischievous, self-serving, or even malevolent linking. “Rick rolling” is a slang term for a prank that is popular on social networking platforms, such as Facebook, in which the goal is to induce an unsuspecting friend to watch a given singer’s music video. Isn’t it amusing? Maybe, but the cloaked link might go to a “not safe for work” site, a phishing site, or even a malware-infected website that harms the viewer’s computer. (It’s not all bad, though: the same redirection approach may help you hide an email address on a webpage from spammers’ software – you can abbreviate a “mailto” link just like you would a standard “http” web connection.) Although the outcome isn’t guaranteed to work in all web browsers, it’s worth a go!). The basic line is that you never know where you’ll wind up if you click on a truncated link.
Short URLs, click-tracking and security
Some URL shortening services may ask for your Twitter, FriendFeed, or other social network account and password. Some URL shorteners demand you to give up your Twitter login data before you can use the service at all, but I’ve noticed a handful that ask you to give up your Twitter login details before you can use the service at all. Most trustworthy providers, on the other hand, will enable you to create shortened URLs without creating an account, and will always make it optional to give over your login credentials if you wish to expand the basic service’s capability. Always be cautious when providing your credentials to a third-party website.