What is a URL Shortener?

Just about everyone who is either involved with online marketing or just likes sharing content that they find on the internet, will eventually find a need to shorten the website or webpage URL.

Before we get into the details of what a URL shortener is, let’s backtrack a little and make sure that you understand what I am talking about.

What is a URL?

A URL is somtimes referred to as a URL address or a URL link. The abbreviation, URL, stand for Uniform Resource Locator. This is the unique address of a specific page on a website that will take you directly to that page if you click on it or enter it in the address bar of your internet browser.

As an example, the URL of this page that you are reading is https://

If you look at the top of your internet browser, in the address bar, you will see the same URL address. This is where you would find a URL address if you are looking for one.

As I mentioned before, it is also referred to as a URL link. This makes sense because if you click on it then it takes you directly to that page. To put it another way, it is a link that you can click on that will direct your internet browser to go to that page.

Why shorten a URL?

People that are involved with online marketing are often promoting or sharing websites and webpages on social media and in marketing emails. It looks a lot neater to have a short URL in the body of the message than the long version. This is not only for online marketers though. We all come across great content on the internet from time to time that we want to share with others. It is much easier to use a short link than to have to type out a whole long address. And, as I mentioned, it looks a lot neater too.

Some social media platforms, like Twitter, have a restriction on the umber of characters that you can use in a message (tweet). You don’t want to use up most of that character count with the link to your page and the shortened URL will help you to keep that to a minimum.

Some of the URL shortening tools also come with a traffic monitor. This allows you to track how many people have clicked on the short link that you created. This can be very useful if you are involved in online marketing and promoting content to people.

What is a URL shortener?

At last we get to the burning question.

A URL shortener is an online tool that will give you a short URL when you put in the long version. Typically it shortens it to about 10 characters after the http:// part of the address. You simply go to the tool, put in your long URL and it generates a short one for you.

If we go back to the example I used earlier with the URL for this blog post, here are the 2 versions of the URL.

Original URL:

Short URL:

You can see that there is really a big differnce between the two.

How does a URL shortener work?

You might be wondering how that short address can possibly get somebody back to the original webpage or blog post.

When somebody clicks on the short link it points back to the site that was used to shorten the URL, in the case of the above example – to goo.gl. This site then redirects the request to the full address so that your browser displays the correct page.

Where do you find a URL shortener?

There are many websites that provide an online URL shortening tool. Some of them also include link tracking so that you can see how many times the short link has been clicked.

You will want to try a few out and then decide which one works best for you and what you want to achieve.

Some of the more popular ones are listed below:


Twitter has a built-in URL shortener. If you put a long URL in a tweet on Twitter then it will automatically shorten it for you. You can’t use the shortened link anywhere else, it will only work on Twitter.

Drop a message in the comments below and let me know which URL shortener you prefer using. Personally, I use goo.gl but I have not tried any of the others yet. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.


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Updated: May 1, 2018 — 1:37 pm

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