There are webpage URLs that can be overly long at times, especially when the URL points to some dynamic data and not static data. A number of variables would have to be part of the URL for anybody trying to access the web page or resource to be able to do so successfully. Therefore, lots of people and organisations came up with the idea of URL shorteners that can help turn a long URL into a short one.
How do they work?
Technically, no actual conversion is being done. The URL shortener simply stores the long URL and maps it to a short one that it has just generated so that whenever anyone visits the short URL, it picks up the long URL that was mapped to the short URL and then redirects the visitor to the long URL. This kind of approach also gives the shortener website the ability to gather some data and be able to answer the following questions.
- How many times has the link been clicked?
- Where was the link clicked?
- How many people clicked the link per hour, per day and so on?
- What is the geographical location/distribution of those that clicked the link?
There are lots of URL shorteners out there, but the ones I regard as the top five (strictly my own opinion) and that I use or that I have used before are.
You can simply go to any of these sites and type in your long URL to generate a short URL and you can also track statistics of clicks on the short links as well.
There are however other URL shorteners that are specialized and is only used by some big websites for their services only. That is, they do not make it available for public use. These include
- fb.me for Facebook
- t.co for Twitter
- lnkd.in for Linkedin
- wp.me for WordPress
- youtu.be for Youtube
There are also URL shorteners that can be used to monetize your links such that anybody that clicks your link would be forced to first of all see an advert before they get to the final destination of the link. This way you get to earn money as the links are being clicked. Examples of these are
It’s rather funny, but there are sites that can also turn your short URLs into long ones or the already long ones into longer ones. An example of this is megaurl.it.
Depending on your needs though, URL shortners can be very useful even if it is just to track clicks and other statistics about a link, a URL shortener can be very useful. If you know of any other URL shortener, please, drop them in the comments section.