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When creating a website on the Internet, every page gets its own URL (Uniform Resource Locator). URLs have existed for as long as the Internet has existed. If the domain is the real estate property, the webhost is the house that is built on the property, and the URLs are the rooms within the house, or the streets branching out from the house.
When websites were first created, every website received a filename with a file extension. For example, websites would be listed as index.html, home.html, about.html, contact.html. Websites could even be listed without the .html extension and .htm could be used. Nowadays, with WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, and other Content Management Systems creating web pages as dynamic content generation through a database, there is no need for the extension anymore.
When a website is created, the webmaster can usually customize their own URL to be as they wish. Most search engines recommend that the URL is kept short and related to the content, helping boost SEO practices and search engines to better categorize your website.
There are some Content Management Systems, including Forums Message Board software, that create awkward looking URLs that are generated. These URLs may look like: www.mysite.com/forums/688812. Search Engines can definitely read what is on the page and they will understand it, but getting an idea of what is on the page through the URL will help the page to rank better in search engines. A better example of a URL is www.mysite.com/forums/688812-homemade-cooking-baking-pies.
When giving a link to someone or sharing it, the most successful websites have memorable links. In addition to short memorable links, it is often hard to track how often these links have been clicked. In order to assist and combat long URLs, many sites such as tinyurl.com, bit.ly, goo.gl, and others have popped up and offer a variety of services. I have used several different services, but the one I like most is goo.gl. When generating a link for this website, www.confessionsoftheprofessions.com, this is the short link given by goo.gl: http://goo.gl/o65TaO
It is the same as typing www.confessionsoftheprofessions.com, but is much shorter. Although it probably could be memorized, the purpose is not for memorization, but for better tracking purposes. While I am sure all sites offer these types of services, goo.gl can tell you how many clicks you have received through the link, what browser they were using, what country they were from, and who referred them to your site.
The information is quite simple and easy to obtain: By typing in http://goo.gl/o65TaO+ or http://goo.gl/o65TaO.info, it will bring up all the information about the link I need to know. Of course, I am the only one who can see this since I own the link and generated it from my Google account.
So why use Goo.gl? It is a trusted name, a trusted brand, and quite easy to remember. While not meant as a replacement for URLs on your website, they are definitely perfect links for tracking clicks of your email subscribers, to see how effective your email marketing campaigns are. You can share a goo.gl link on a forum, message board, comment, etc., and always retrieve information about the link. The beautiful thing about these links: They never expire.
If you have already generated the link once using a given URL, and if you input that same URL, a new goo.gl URL will not be generated, but it will just pull up the old link that was assigned previously. This will avoid confusion about creating multiple different goo.gl links and having them all pointing to the same area.
Giving the goo.gl link will help you track all your marketing efforts and those who click the link. I was never a fan of tinyurl.com or bit.ly, and wp.me does not provide you with any additional information. Of course, everyone is entitled to their own opinions and favorites, but I was always just fond of using goo.gl.
What is your favorite URL shortener and why?
Matthew Gates is a freelance web developer and currently runs Confessions of the Professions.