Why shortform URLs can sometimes be essential

Shortform URLs are almost essential in marketing. They’ve been in the news recently because Google has announced that it’s shutting down the goo.gl link shortening service (although don’t worry, if you’ve ever used it, the links will continue to work). It’s actually a sign of shortened-links’ importance though, as Google is moving on to an improved product.

Getting people to type in a URL is hard. Getting them to type in a complicated URL is almost impossible. I despair when I see advertising or any printed documents saying: “find out more at www-dot-something-dot-something-slash-something”. If you want to get people to a particular page on your website, by far the best way is to quote your domain and have a link on the home page. If that can’t be done, and you simply must quote a ‘slash-something’, then make sure the ‘something’ is as short and recognisable as possible. You might get away with persuading people to type in your domain ‘slash widgets’, but that’s about all.

Many content management systems allow you to create redirected shortform URLs, perhaps through a plugin or add-on. Alternatively, a friendly coder might show you how to do it at a more fundamental level on the domain – it’s not that hard. Third-party services like goo.gl and TinyURL are fine, but you do lose the branding of your own domain name, so they’re only a compromise.