Over the last year, riding on the coat tails of the historic rise of Twitter, URL shortening services have also become a popular tool.
What is a URL shortening?
URL shortening is a technique on the World Wide Web where a provider makes a web page available under a very short URL in addition to the original address. For example the page http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=TinyURL&diff=283621022&oldid=283308287 can be shortened to http://tinyurl.com/mmw6lb. (from Wikipedia)
For Twitter’s 140 character limit on messages, the URL shortening services are essential.
How popular is URL shortening?
Some of the most popular services are TinyUrl, Bit.ly, and Is.Gd, but there are 96 other services to choose from. They have also grown in popularity putting year over year user growth of TinyUrl at +251% , Bit.ly at +2,242%* and Is.GD at +1,047%. This data comes from Compete and doesn’t include all URL shortening usage from desktop twitter applications like TweetDeck and Twhirl.
*Bit.ly growth is for the last 9 months (service has been operational for a full year)
What else can URL shortening services do?
Some of these services have been building additional features that allow for more utility that just the URL shortening service. For Example:
- NotifyURL sends an email when the link is first visited.
- SnipURL introduces social bookmarking features such as usernames and RSS feeds.
- DwarfURL generates statistics.
- Adjix, XR.com and Linkbee are ad-supported models of URL shorteners that share the revenue with their users.
- bit.ly offers gratis click-through statistics and charts.
- Digg offers a shortened URL which includes not just the target URL, but an iframed version that includes a set of Digg-related controls called the Digg bar.
- Doiop allows the shortening to be selected by the user, and Unicode can be used to achieve really short URLs.
Feature list was complied by Jeff Atwood, on his blog “Coding Horror“
If you use Twitter, you should explore one of these tools; my personal favorite is Bit.ly, because of the metrics offered (which includes detailed information.) If you are already using a URL shortening service, I would love to hear which one and why.
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