URL shorteners still needed?

I’ve been reading a lot about URL shorteners in the last couple of weeks. We’re thinking about creating our own URL shorteners for our brands, but after reading various articles I’m trying to figure out if it’s necessary at all. Now that Twitter has started wrapping everything into t.co, I don’t see the point of using a URL shortener on twitter unless you want to front you own url shortener. Sure, it’s easier to analyze your traffic stats that way, but bit.ly pro & awe.sm do that too.

Can anyone list other good reasons why a brand should have their own URL shortener or why it would be necessary? (looking fancy doesn’t count :D)


Personally, I’d say no, we’ve got more than enough URL shortners… and, as with a lot of them, they are VERY easy for users to hide too much behind. I’ve seen them (ab)used for spreading malware via twitter / facebook etc… where you can’t see “through” the link without clicking it. I’d rather such a thing just didn’t exist.

Two reasons for using your own link shortener:

  1. it looks more professional and reassuring for users to know that the link is to somewhere on your own site.
  2. you can encourage users to use that shortened URL when linking to you or posting on social networking and bookmarking sites, which reinforces your brand and highlights to potential visitors where the link goes to.

I tend to agree with Tim. In my personal use, unless I know and really trust someone who posts a shortened url, I rarely follow it even if it is a tiny url. I’m quite certain I wouldn’t follow a personalized shorty. I think that it might lose more business than it acquires.

Thanks for the feedback all. This really is a 50/50 thing. Some people seem to like it, some people don’t like the idea at all.

When you say a ‘personalised shorty’, what do you mean by that?

What I’m thinking about is this kind of situation:
There’s a news article on “The Independent” news site, with a URL of [noparse]www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/lucas-papademos-named-as-new-greek-pm-6259733.html[/noparse]. That’s a complete PITA for sharing with other people, particularly in a context where they might be typing it into their browser (and there are plenty of times when that does need to happen). So wouldn’t it be great if they could set up their own shortener, and allow you to use indy.co.uk/6259733 for that article? That’s tweetable, when you print it, it isn’t going to break over two lines, and it’s easy to type in. That’s a pretty easy one to set up because the URL has a unique ID in it already as well as half the article (a fad that I really don’t like, I have to say, but one that we seem to be stuck with), but even if it wasn’t part of the standard URL, it would be very easy to allocate a unique ID to each article and have a prominent widget on the page giving the short link. And then when the short link is posted all over the place, people can feel more confident clicking on it, because they know it is a page on The Independent site and not a redirect to some warez or pr0n site.

Yeah indeed, they are a very 50/50 thing… I can see the benefits of them in twitter type posts where you are constrained on lenght, but generally i don’t see a benefit. for e.g. I wouldn’t to to use one now to link you to one of my sites, I’d rather just give you the url complete. (Yet I know plenty of people who would hide behind a shortened url)

Here’s a reason – at work, we often send out bulletins, leaflets and newsletters to customers and clients, which may be printed off (or sent hard copy, in some cases) and shared around. These will often have links to websites on. Some of those links don’t even print on a single line, which gets confusing and is then difficult for people to type into their browser if they want to check them out. Shortened URLs get around that problem very neatly.

I’m 50/50 on this myself, I agree with both Tim and Stevie.

I think it really comes down to being about your company.

For example, if someone recognizable like Nike (picked because they were the first 4 letter name I could think of =p) had their own shortener, I would know that this was from Nike, so I would be unlikely to doubt whether it was malware or not.

However, with the others, I tend to agree that they can be abused. Even with bit.ly and others, I still hesitate to click on them unless I at least trust the source a bit. However, if it’s a public unknown or a personal unknown, the weight of those would be the same to me… once again it would come down to the source.

Now, if your business is reasonably well known and respected, and people recognize that this short link is coming from your site, it could be well trusted and a boost.

Like I said, 50/50 (I sound like I’m schizophrenic in that post =p).

While I understand the benefits of them, I still don’t use them unless I have to on something like Twitter. All of my sites use friendly urls, which is domain.com/page-title.htm, except for a very few that include the specific directory. The problem isn’t with the availabllity of alternatives. The problem is with web developers who seem to think, for some reason, those long urls are cool. As far as I’m concerned, if they are willing to make their pages easily accessible from the first click, they can do without my business.

I think it’s more about organizing and structuring the site content. Look at WP sites. They give you many different ways to structure the URL…but I agree with what you’re saying. Very long URL’s can be annoying :slight_smile:

That’s what I’m thinking. Big, famous companies/brands are probably more trustworthy in the public eye, hence their links are more used. If you’re a small company trying to use spread the word with a URL shortener, you may be shooting for something that is a guaranteed failure.

for short message posting in micro blogging sites like twitter and others like friendfeed.com, LinkedIn.com and wall updates in fb, Myspace… still need url shortening.


as already mentioned by Stevie D, having your own URL shortener can only have benefits under certain circumstances, therefore I agree that we clearly have more than enough “general based” shorteners like bit.ly or other ones that were mentioned, but if you’re planning on building your own social network or a community where those shorteners would definitely be profitable, (like collecting statistics and make something out of it), go ahead and do it.

i would not bother with building my own shortener… why reinvent the wheel?

You know that when you are boosting your sites’ visibility on the web you have to do some technique and one of those is website submission. Some directories have a maximum number of characters on the url, that’s when the url shortener comes in. This can be used in SEO.

The only reason I tend to like URL shorteners is cos they make everything look a lot neater and concise. However, I’m always suspicious of them and where they might take me cos they never shorten to anything that’s legible/ understandable.

I find URL shorteners more professional looking than tweeting a really long URL. They also look neater.

My opinion is: Branding is a part of Social Media Marketing. If you want to create a URL shortner just like bit.ly and goo.gl, then it is worth for it, or if it is just another URL shortner then it not worth. You have to work too hard for its promotion and for driving traffic.

(just for information > Bit.ly is now enhancing its analytics stats.

Only if you want to promote your own system … let’s say b.co that is your own site and you make money with it. Otherwise you just waste time and money inventing what is all ready in the market.

If your blog /website is listed as SPAM by any website then go with URL shortner