Everyone needs to shorten a URL sometimes.
Whether it’s to prevent long URLs wrapping in emails, to hide affiliate links or to make links look neater in newsletters or on web pages, a URL shortening service comes in handy. These are simply tools that take long URLs and reduce them into fewer characters to make a link that is easier to share.
First into the market was TinyURL, a service that we didn’t even know we needed until it suddenly became vital. With tweets set at 140 characters, use of TinyURL went into overdrive as Twitter became more and more popular.
But after a while, TinyURLs weren’t tiny anymore and we started looking elsewhere. A couple of small players hit the market and then an outfit called Bit.ly started offering link shortening with built in click through stats and that was enough for most of us to ditched the competition.
Bit.ly became king of the URL shorteners in May 2009 when Twitter announced they were formally abandoning TinyURL to make Bit.ly their preferred shortening service. This wasn’t much of a surprise, given both Twitter and Bit.ly shared common startup investment partners. But the move meant that links from alternative URL trimmers started throwing errors if used in tweets.
Now Google has jumped into the URL shortening pool, with the launch last month of Goo.gl . At this stage, Goo.gl is only available for use within Google Toolbar and Feedburner, but it’s expected to rollout for general use eventually, complete with full link tracking.
As TechCrunch points out in their post about the service, it’s the link data that will win the war between the URL shorteners. But I have a feeling that if and when Goo.gl rolls out as a stand alone service, Twitter will need to rethink their relationship with Bit.ly.