Tuesday, January 13, 2009

URL got shorty

On the web we're in a constant chase for higher traffic, bigger revenues, more posts and greater designs, but one thing we'd like to be short: the URL.

Some URLs are not only long, but unpleasant, like links to products on ebay:
http://cgi.ebay.com/Apple-Iphone-3G-8GB-unlocked-Brand-new-No-Contract_W0QQitemZ140290947446QQcmdZViewItemQQptZCell_Phones?hash=item140290947446&_trksid=p3286.c0.m14&_trkparms=72%3A570|66%3A2|65%3A12|39%3A1|240%3A1307|301%3A1|293%3A1|294%3A50

To solve this problem, services that shrink URLs appeared. They're useful when you want to give a friend a link like the one above over IM or email. Short URLs are also handy in services like Twitter, where messages are limited to 140 characters. A short URL leaves more space for the actual text.

Image by B&M Photography


So far we tried three services that provide short aliases to redirect long URLs:

TinyURL

This is probably the most known service of its kind. It's been around for a long time, since 2002, and there are some funny stories related to its early algorithm for generating the short URLs' identifiers.

One neat option of TinyURL is that you may create aliases like: tinyurl.com/teamness-uptime-public or tinyurl.com/inboxdiet.

Here is an article about TinyURL and his creator, Kevin Gilbertson.

Tweetburner

When we started using Twitter, Tweetburner came in to help us generate short links and keep track of user clicks. They offer some basic analytics and daily graphs of the clicks you get on the links. We generated 35 Twurls (this is how they name the short URLs), which have been clicked 669 times until now.

Cligs

Tweetburner did a good job, until it started being quite slow for us. Then we switched to Cligs. Behind the funny name, they're offering:
  • real time analytics
  • rules you may define to direct people to different web pages, based on their geo-location
  • a world map with the hits for a clig
  • an API on which several tools were based
There are other services of this type, like shorl, txt.exe or bit.ly, but so far Cligs has been the one for us.

When doing reasearch for this post, I came across gog.is. It's an URL shortner for Google search. If you put the keywords in the query, like http://gog.is/easy,team,collaboration it will redirect you to the Google search for "easy team collaboration".

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