Web address or URL shortening business is getting hotter by the day. Everybody wants to have their own shortening service and Google is no exception. Google is the latest company to introduce a URL shortening service, goo.gl. While goo.gl is an easy and straight forward service with some nice analytics and even a QR or Quick Response generator it is lacking the ability to customise your short URL.
Customising a short URL is a great way to identify the owner or the target for the URL. It is also much more descriptive than just a series of random letters or numbers. Customised URL’s are offered by currently the most popular URL shortening service, bit.ly. The customisation feature offers you the same advantages as owning your own domain name or your Twitter and Facebook user names. Once you have secured your own customised short URL it’s your’s to keep and control; nobody else can use the same URL. This is an important feature if you manage a company or a big brand name.
For instance, when I became an affiliate for GoDaddy I tried to register bit.ly/godaddy but I couldn’t because it was already taken; by Mashable. So in this case, and there are lots of others, GoDaddy does not own or control the shortened version of their bit.ly domain name but another company does. If the company was not as reputable as Mashable I would be a little concerned if I were Mr. Bob Parsons. Twitter and Facebook were smart enough (and quick enough) to register their own bit.ly URL’s so they can use them linked to their own websites. For the purpose of emphasising this point I just registered bit.ly/pepsicola. See what I mean? I will however gladly hand it over to PepsiCo should they want it.
My advice to all marketing executives out there is to go and secure all your important customised URL’s today even if you don’t need to use them immediately. This way at least you control them and not your competitor. Start with your own name. For instance I have registered bit.ly/KrisOlin which points to my website. Now, it might not be shorter than my normal URL but I sure want to own it. The same goes for my book, bit.ly/FacebookAdvertisingGuide which is not really that much shorter than the original URL, however I do feel a lot better knowing that I own the bit.ly version as well.
Here is a great example how URL shortening works the way it should work. As you might have noticed I am publishing a Global Social Media interview series in this blog but its URL is a monster (http://socialmediarevolver.com/social-media-for-business-global-interview-series/) Phew! Using a shortening service I was able to get a much more user friendly URL for it: bit.ly/SocialMediaInterview. The same goes for my Facebook Page. As I haven’t chosen my Facebook URL yet I still have the long and cumbersome version http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kris-Olin-Web-Designer/144956893981. With customised URL shortening I can now use the much nicer bit.ly/facebook-krisolin instead.
So, regarding the goo.gl service, as good as it is, I’m quite sure that sooner or later they will come up with a URL customisation option as well. I only hope it stays free like bit.ly and several other great services such as tiny.url, j.mp or su.pr.
Have a nice short Friday at work,
Kris Olin, MSc(econ.)