The shorteners URL (URL shortener English) are online services that can be used to transform URLs long and cryptic (due to many variables) in short URLs. The short URL generated redirects visitors to the actual destination URL through a redirection with status code 301. Short URLs are particularly popular because of the increasing use of short news services on Twitter .
If you want to shorten URLs or make them more concise, you can use a URL shortener of your choice. Typically the long URL is entered into a web form and becomes the desired alias URL. Some providers also work with Plug-ins, which can be installed in the browser and can cut URLs directly in the address bar with a single click. Many microblogging and social media service providers like HootSuite or Tweetdeck work with URL shorteners that are standard features of their programs.
Some URL shortener tools provide their customers with page call 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, a URL shortener doesn’t shorten a URL, but instead uses a shorter URL, which redirects to the actual destination URL . It should be called URL redirect more accurately. However, since the displayed URL is actually 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 . It is no wonder that there are several hundred URL shorteners available worldwide.
The following occurs to “shorten” a URL:
The “shortened” URL alias works here with a unique pattern, so the shortened service can store a unique reference for the long URL. If you click on the short URL, the web server sends the 301 status code stored in the header to the Client and redirects to the original URL.
Many URL shorteners also offer the short link that is being designed as a search engine friendly URL (SEF). In this example, the short URL could also look like this:
Popular URL shorteners
The most popular URL shorteners include TinyURL.com, memURL.com, cli.gs or bit.ly … Google also offers its own shortener with goo.gl .
Risks of URL shorteners
Even with the increasing popularity of URL shorteners, there are often risks that should not be underestimated:
- Unclear goal : The working principle of a URL shortener is to redirect a URL. The short URL itself does not often give any indication of the actual destination and users will not know which pages they are being forwarded to. That poses the risk of cookies falling out. Many URL shortener providers have already responded to this threat and provide their users with a preview of the destination URL.
- Possible link hijacking manipulations : If links from a URL shortener are no longer needed, there is a danger that scammers use URLs that are no longer needed to forward to their websites.
- Link Spoofing : URL shorteners that work with cryptic URLs, in other words, session identifiers, offer scammers the opportunity to circulate only slightly modified URLs, which are then used for phishing.
- Third-party access to user data : Since URLs and destination URLs are stored on an external server, unauthorized users can also collect data on user behavior on a website.
- Dependence on a service provider : No one can say exactly what will happen to shortened URLs when a URL shortener service provider becomes insolvent and has to leave their business. Anything is possible, from an acquisition by another company to the removal of short URLs,
- Insecure providers : If entire lists with short URLs are hacked, they can be used for manipulative purposes. The customer has no chance to correct this error.
Relevance for SEO and online marketing
Since most providers use permanent redirectors for short URLs with status code 301, URL shorteners can pass the Page Rank along with anchor texts . In this way, SEOs can also use short URLs to link to a website. However, the transmission of PR or Link Juice depends on the strength of the links page . Because short URLs are often used on social media, presumably they don’t pass much link juice.
A shortened URL could provide a higher click-through rate, resulting in more traffic on the landing page as part of marketing and branding campaigns.