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Consumer's perception of seeing a regular URL vs a shortened URL

Consumer's perception of seeing a regular URL vs a shortened URL

Last updated: February 02, 2023

Digital marketers have been using short links for a variety of reasons and they've been generally accepted as an effective way to direct people to sites, affiliate offers, promos, and landing pages, as part of a larger marketing campaign. Curious minds would like to know if consumers perceive shortened links as positive or negative. In this article, we'll discuss the consumer perception of regular URL vs shortened URLs.

Regular URL vs Shortened URL

Regular Website Address

In general, the length of regular website addresses is tolerable. They're typically just company names and brand names in URL form. However, when the URL is too long, it becomes unsightly and unprofessional, which can deter people from clicking on it or visiting the site or page.

If you're just sharing the home page of a website, then the regular URL format would suffice (as it's just essentially the domain name). But the reality is that people are sharing blog posts, videos, affiliate links, subdomains, and other pages that is not the home page.

As we all know, blog post URLs can be very long and video and affiliate links can look suspicious with their lengthy combination of letters, numbers, and characters. They look so "ugly" that they become a deterrent, which can have a negative impact on online marketing campaigns. Hence, the need to "beautify" the URLs became a thing for digital marketers.

Shortened Links

URL shortening is a way to make a long web address shorter so that it is easier to type or share online. It's also easy to remember, especially if you customize it as part of a brand awareness campaign. Shortened URLs take up less space in the social media real estate-Twitter quickly comes to mind with its very restricting character limit. Most URL shorteners set the limit to 30 characters for the shortened link.

Consumer Perception of Shortened URLs

In a world of ever-changing technology, it's no surprise that the way we share information has also changed. Information must be delivered quickly to the intended recipients without delay or restraints.

Long URLs can be cut when pasted on emails or social media platforms, which can render the link unusable. This strengthens the argument that URL shorteners not only important, but also necessary for sharing links in the internet marketing space.

Clearly, online marketers embrace the use of URL shorteners with open arms, but what does the average consumer think about this method?

In the study "Security Threats of Shortening: A User's Perspective" by Le Khac and Kechadi (2015), the survey results revealed the following:

  • Of the 91 people surveyed, 51% use shortened URLs more frequently on social media, specifically Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin. The main reason for doing so is to counter the character limit imposed by the platforms.
  • In terms of user confidence, 70% of the survey respondents feel more confident in using URLs from popular shortening services such as (now defunct),,,, and tinyurl. The rest of the respondents say that it doesn't matter what URL shortener service is used to generate the shortened links.
  • In terms of safety in using short URLs, the majority of the respondents (57%) feel that the safety of using URL shorteners is just "Moderate" and 30% rank it as "Poor". None of the respondents rank the safety as "Very good".
  • The majority of the survey respondents perceive URL shorteners as moderately risky, while 33% perceive them as high risk.
  • Phishing (38%) is the biggest possible threat from URL shorteners, according to the respondents. This is followed by Spam (34%), and Malware (27%).
  • The respondents consider Site Advisor software (31%) and Browser add-on (18%) as suitable protection measure to avoid security threats from using URL shorteners.

Risks Associated with Using URL Shorteners

URL shorteners are useful in certain situations, but there are some risks associated with using them.

  • Spammers can use URL shorteners to disguise links to websites that contain unwanted ads, pornographic materials, or malicious content.
  • Suspicious shortened links can activate malware programs on your computer or smartphone. When you click on these links, it can infect your computer with virus, delete important files, steal personal information, or even take control of your entire system. Malware programs can be installed without your knowledge or consent, and they can be very difficult to remove once they're on your computer.
  • Scammers can use shortened links for their phishing scams. Phishing is the fraudulent attempt to obtain sensitive information or data, such as usernames, passwords, and credit card details, by mimicking the design of a legitimate website or email in order to lure victims into providing confidential information.
  • URL shorteners can also make it difficult to know where a link will take you before you click on it. This can be dangerous if you're not familiar with the website that the link is pointing to.

How can shortened URLs be used safely?

There are many ways to make a URL shorter, but not all of them are safe. The safest way to create a shortened URL is through a reputable URL shortener service.

Most URL shorteners will give you the option to set up a custom alias for your shortened URLs. This is important, because it allows you to control what people see when they click on your links. It also means that you can change the destination of your shortened URLs at any time, without having to update all of the links that point to them.

Some URL shorteners will also let you choose how long your shortened URLs should be active for. This can be useful if you want to share a link for a limited time. For example, you may want to share a link to a sale that is only going on for 24 hours. By using a URL shortener with an expiration date, you can be sure that the link will only work for as long as you want it to. Once the promo period is over, the URL link will no longer work.

If you receive a short link from an unknown source, and the message accompanying the link is suspicious, it's best not to click on it. You could be opening yourself up to a phishing scam or other malicious attacks.


Although the study on user perception on the use of URL shortener only had a small sample size, it showed that consumers have a keen awareness of the security threats associated with using URL shortener services. However, it is acknowledged that there's room for improvement when it comes to implementing safety measures to protect users.

Although there is still a level of mistrust in using URL shorteners, they are still widely used in social media platforms because of their perceived benefits. Regular URLs are considered safer than shortened URLs, but the latter is generally accepted in everyday information dissemination.

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