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Frequently asked questions about URL shorteners

Frequently asked questions about URL shorteners

Last updated: December 17, 2022

You see these curious links frequently on social media posts and affiliate sites - especially when you're asked to respond to a call to action (e.g., click on the link). Some shortened URLs look clean and professional, while others are cryptically complex.

You may have your doubts about clicking on them, so we are here to allay your fears and provide answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about URL shorteners.

What is a URL?

Uniform Resource Locator (URL) is the basic address of a website or web page. It consists of four parts: the protocol, the domain name, the path, and query. It's essentially the location of a website or its pages on the Internet.

What is a URL shortener?

A URL shortener is a service that allows you to turn your ugly, complicated, or long URL into a much shorter and prettier link that people will be compelled to click. The resulting shortened URL is much easier to remember and likely more shareable on social media platforms.

How do URL shorteners work?

URL shorteners work by taking a long web address and creating a shorter, unique version of it. When a user clicks on the shortened URL, they are redirected to the original website. The entire process happens behind the scenes and unseen by the user. But the final product is a user-friendly website address that you'll be proud to share on the Internet.

What are the benefits of using a URL shortener?

  • URL shorteners are a great way to make long, ugly links look professional. Not only do they make your links look better, but they can also be used to track clicks and measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns.
  • Shortened links are especially helpful when you're sharing them on social media sites like Twitter, where there is a character limit. By using a URL shortener, you can save valuable characters that can be used for other purposes, such as adding a call-to-action or tagging other users.
  • URL shorteners are also useful for creating custom branded links. By using a custom link, you can add your company's name or logo to your links, making them more recognizable, which increases brand recall.
  • URL shorteners can help mask affiliate links. By cloaking your links, you can make it harder for people to figure out that you are an affiliate and make it more difficult for them to block your links or get details about your affiliate links.

Are there any risks associated with using URL shorteners?

URL shorteners are generally safe to use, however, you should not ignore the potential risks, especially from suspicious sites that offer the service.

  • Malware: Some URL shorteners have been used to distribute malware. This is usually done by creating malicious shortened links that lead to websites that infect your computer with malware and other intrusive programs.
  • Phishing: URL shorteners can be used to create phishing links. These links may lead you to a website that looks identical to a legitimate website but is actually a fake. The purpose of these websites is to trick you into entering sensitive information, such as your username and password as well as bank and credit card details.
  • Security vulnerabilities: Some URL shorteners have been found to have security vulnerabilities that could allow an attacker to hijack links and redirect users to malicious websites.

To avoid these risks, it is important to only use URL shorteners from trusted sources. Additionally, you should always examine shortened links carefully before clicking on them. If you see anything suspicious, do not click on the link and don't share it to your network.

How can I use a URL shortener to improve my SEO?

Legit URL shortener services have features that can help you track the clicks on your links and analyze your link traffic. This information can be used to optimize your website to gain more organic traffic.

You can also brand your links with a custom domain name, which can increase the click-through rate on your links and improve SEO.

Do shortened URLs expire?

It depends on the URL shortener service you use. Typically, shortened URLs are permanent redirects as long as the service provider stays in business and doesn't close down. To reduce the risk of your links expiring, you must choose a legit and reputable link shortener service.

Some services indicate the link expiration of the shortened URL. There may also be a feature where you can set the expiration date yourself. You may be wondering why this feature exists.

This can be incredibly useful if you're sharing a link that you only want to be active for a certain period of time.

For example, let's say you're sharing a link to a contest or promo that expires in one week. By setting an expiration date on the shortened URL, you can be sure that anyone who clicks on the link after the expiration date will see an error message.

Expiration dates can also be useful if you're sharing a link to a sensitive document or website. By setting an expiration date, you can ensure that the link will become inactive and inaccessible.

What are the factors to consider in choosing URL shorteners?

To help you find the best match for your needs and preferences, here are a few things to consider when choosing a URL shortener service:

  1. Ease of use: You should be able to easily shorten URLs with the click of a button. There should be no complicated steps.
  2. Tracking: URL shorteners that offer tracking features will help you monitor how many people clicked on your shortened links, which can help you
  3. Customization: Some URL shorteners let you customize your links, such as choosing a custom alias or branding.
  4. Price: Some URL shorteners are free, while others charge for certain features.
  5. Compatibility: Make sure the URL shortener you choose is compatible with the platform you're using it on (e.g., Twitter, Facebook, etc.).
  6. No intrusive ads: Some suspicious URL shorteners will redirect users to ads before sending them to your site. Avoid these sites.

We hope you found this URL shortener FAQ helpful! For more information on URL shortening service, check out our blog or contact us.

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