URL Shorteners are services on the Internet that can be used to transform long and cryptic (because of many variables) URLs into short URLs. The generated short URL redirects visitors to the actual URL destination via a redirect with status code 301. Short URLs are particularly popular since the increasing use of short news services Twitter.
If you want to shorten URLs or make them more concise, you can use a URL shortener of your choice. Usually the long URL is entered into a web form and converted into the desired alias URL. Some providers also work with Plug-ins, which can be installed in the browser and can cut URLs straight in the address bar with just one click. Many [microblogging] and social networks service providers such as HootSuite or Tweetdeck work with URL shorteners that are standard features of their programs.
Some URL Shortener tools provide their customers page calls statistics in addition to redirecting their URLs. It is also possible to customize short URLs depending on the provider or protect them with a password.
Even if the name suggests it, a URL shortener does not shorten a URL, it uses a shorter URL, which redirects to the actual destination URL. It should more accurately be called URL redirect. However, since the displayed URL is in fact shorter than the original, the term “shortener” has become common.
The technology behind a URL shortener is relatively simple. It is more or less an http-redirect. All you need to do to provide a URL shortener is a server and a PHP script. No wonder there are several hundred URL shorteners available worldwide.
The following takes place to “shorten” a URL:
The “shortened” alias URL works here with a unique pattern, so the shortening service can store a unique reference for the long URL. If you click the short URL, the web server sends the status code 301 stored in the header to the Client and redirects to the original URL.
Many URL shorteners also offers the short link being designed like a search engine friendly URL (SEF) URL. In this example, the short URL could also look like this:
Popular URL Shorteners include TinyURL.com, memURL.com, cli.gs or bit.ly.. Google also offers its own shortener with goo.gl.
Even with increasing popularity of URL Shorteners, there are often risks that should not be underestimated:
Since most providers use permanent forwarders for short URLs with status code 301, URL Shorteners can pass on Page Rank along with anchor texts. That way, SEOs can also use short URLs to link a website. However, the passing on of PR or Link Juice depends on how strong the link-giving page is. Because short URLs are often used in social networks, it is to be assumed that these do not pass on much link juice.
A shortened URL could provide increased click-through rate resulting in more Traffic on the landing page as part of marketing and branding campaigns.