What’s a short URL, and why use one?
Short URLs take lengthy web page addresses like:
and “convert” them to something significantly shorter. This is quite useful in applications that limit the number of characters you can use, such as Twitter and text messages.
There are several services that shorten URLs ”“ bit.ly, tinyurl, and many others. And they work just fine.
But I wanted a short URL that “brands” Phoenix Real Estate Guy. I’ve had the domain name TPREG.com (The Phoenix Real Estate Guy) for awhile and never done much with it. Since it’s only 5 characters, it lends itself well to a branded short URL. All I needed was a relatively painless way to create short URLs.
Google, naturally, has an application to do just this.
You’ll need a Google Apps domain, and the ability to change MX and add CNAME records to that domain. It’s not as complicated as it may sound, Google will step you through it. However, unless you’re comfortable with changing these things and understand roughly what they are doing I highly suggest trying this first on a test domain, not your primary one. Changing MX records can really jack up existing email. Most of you won’t have email going to a short URL anyway, but better to be prudent than blow up your email account.
Cost for setting this up is zero.
The Google solution is pretty slick. It tracks clicks on shortened links (VERY useful) and has an API for those more technically adept than me.
An example of the branded short URL for this post is:
Which is significantly shorter than:
Is creating a branded short URL worthwhile? I dunno. But it only took about 10 minutes, so I figured it can’t hurt. You’ll see them popping up on my Twitter page, and anywhere else that long URLs are a pain.
Hat tip to Dustin Luther for finally motivating me to get this done.