Short Links: Small Is Powerful

 URL-shortener-short-link

Years ago, a URL used to be synonymous with a long string of characters that indicated the content of the linked page. Today, most URLs that are being shared on email and social networks look something like this:

https://bitly.com/1aMZKq9

Welcome to the world of short links. As its name indicates, a short link is a shortened link. While its name may or may not indicate the content of the page it is linking to, for all intents and purposes it is the same as that of an old school URL.

Although a patent was filed in 2000, a website called TinyURL is actually responsible for the widespread use of short links. Launched in 2002, TinyURL became so popular that Twitter began to use it to automatically shorten lengthy URLs. Thus, Twitter users constituted a significant base of its early adopters, especially since the length of a Tweet is limited to 140 characters.

Short links have a definite edge over standard URLs, namely:

1. Better readability
Consider the following URLs. Which is easier to read? Standard URL and shortened URL

2. Access to click analytics Click Analytics of Landing Page

As shown above, users can view the number of times a link has been clicked. This is an indispensable feature for businesses having an online presence.

3. High social shareability
Short links get shared far more than standard URLs, especially on Twitter. This powerful Infographic from Bit.ly clearly demonstrates the social reach of short links.

They have quite a few pros, but they also have their fair share of cons:

1. Complete dependency on the concerned URL shortener
If the shortening service becomes unavailable for some time, all the links that it has shortened will become broken links.

2. Susceptible to viruses
Since most people use free URL shorteners like Bit.ly, their short links do not indicate the content of the linked web page. This is often effectively misused by internet baddies to link to sites infected with viruses and malware.

Despite their cons, there’s something about short links; why else would notable companies like Instagram roll out their own? All in all, it’s fair to say that short links are here to stay.

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