What is a URL Shortener?
The best way to describe it is to use an example.
Gotta long URL?
Now if I wanted to tweet and share this URL in twitter, the address would take up 64 of the 140 characters allowed for my message! That doesn’t leave much room to tell you what the link is about.
What if you could type in: http://bit.ly/IMUinfo and get to the same place? Well that is why so many people use url shorteners. (Beware though, as you could imagine, this can also be a bad thing because someone mischievous could hide unsafe links. Be careful of what you click on!)
All I have to do is go to bit.ly to shorten and share, type in the address I needed shortening. I also chose “show options” and gave it a custom name. Hit “shorten” and voilà! A shorter, and easier to remember URL.
Thanks to bit.ly, the URL is now: http://bit.ly/IMUinfo.
Note: The thing to remember when choosing a custom name for a website is that it is case sensitive. So, if you go to http://bit.ly/imuinfo it won’t work. But this is a good thing! if someone already had: http://bit.ly/IMUinfo , then I could use http://bit.ly/IMUINFO.
Now, the reason why bit.ly wins my vote: I can log in and see the traffic for each my shortened links. I use twitterfeed to automatically change my blog post URLs to bit.ly addresses for twitter updates (because of the 140 character rule). When I log into bit.ly I can see how much traffic my blog posts are getting from twitter!
Make sure you sign in to bit.ly before you shorten any links you want to actually track.