Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Making URL short

Step by step tutorial on making URL shorter.
For those who don't know, URL stands for Universal Resource Locator which is basically the address of the website you want to visit. Just like every house has an address to it, so does a website which has a unique address assigned o it. It is typed on the blank space on the top of the browser. See the example given below. Click on the images to make them larger.

I wanted to post URLs of my blogs on my mobile networking group but they were too long. Most sites like twitter or other free messaging services allow upto 140 characters to be typed. But my blog URLs stood out at an average of 70 characters which I could hardly afford. I tried a lot shortening my message but still could not make the entire message short enough to append the URL of the blog article. In the end I had to give up till I found a solution to it.

Honestly speaking, though I am in touch with the internet since around 1998 I am relatively new to blogging stuff. I did not ever try maintaining a blog or a website by my own, I was just happy to read out the universe of knowledge that the internet gave me. Thus I was thinking on how to cater to this problem of mine about making the URLs of the blogs shorted so that i could use them in messages through Twitter and elsewhere. Thinking on it, I dug my memory and realized that I have seen other blogs and websites use something called 'tiny url' which contained oddly twisted but relatively small links. Though I wasn't sure about what it exactly was , I had an idea of what it did. So I googled out tiny url and found its site - www.tiny.cc
Note that there are many such sites but I got this one 1st in my head so I ultimately ended up using it. 

According to Wikipedia "URL shortening is a technique on the World Wide Web where a provider makes a webpage  available under a very short URL in addition to the original address. For example, the page http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=TinyURL&diff=283621022&oldid=283308287 can be shortened to http://tinyurl.com/mmw6lb".
Instead of writing much about what it does, let me show you step by step on how to make original URLs shorter.

Let's take the example of one of my earlier posts on PC/Laptop overheating issues
The URL of this post was 70 characters long and I wanted to make them shorter. Thus I browsed over to www.tiny.cc , the home of TinyURL.

Now you can see "Enter a long URL that you want to make tiny" followed by a blank space. Type out the original URL that you want to make small. In my case it was http://babbleona.blogspot.com/2010/01/pclaptop-overheating-issues.html .
I put it in the appropriate place

The original URL has been copied into the box and now we click on 'Tiny It' . You can see the results below.

As you can see my original website link or the URL was 70 characters long and now it has been brought down to just 20 characters thus saving me 50 precious character space. It really is important if you are into mobile networking as the space is really limited, being 140 characters in most cases.

The real positive thing is that it makes my URL way shorter and I can now use it in a more efficient way for networking or other purposes. These links are permanent so there's no problem about the link getting expired et al.

One small problem that I noticed in this is that the shortened URL is case sensitive. Take this example again.
My original URL : http://babbleona.blogspot.com/2010/01/pclaptop-overheating-issues.html
Shortened URL : http://tiny.cc/DtL1g
Problem here is that its fine if these links are put up on webpages or hyperlinked on some webpage but if you are sending them as text message then there's a fair chance that the user might type all characters in small case and may end up getting an error. For a serious blogger or those wanting to make their presence even such small chances can be fairly harmful.

Thus to evade that problem we can use the customize option given to us. This option lets us put the keywords we want into new short URL. Thus to remove the problem of upper n lower case of characters we may put up some keyword in small case letters (note that if your given keyword is already used up then yours will be appended by some random number.).
In my case I put 'heatpc2'. I added the number beforehand cause 'heatpc' was already present and the site was allotting me some weird random numbers I did not like.
And I got this new link with my keywords all in small case.

Now, finally, I was happy and satisfied with the link that I could easily use for my networking purposes.

The keywords have a big role to play which many people do not use unfortunately. 1st of all any experience blogger would know the importance of the right set of keywords - they are very important in terms of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Along with that I believe that the URL we get using keywords look sensible rather than the ones that are auto generated.
Thus we have seen how to make shortened URLs out of long ones.

Kindly note that there are many other such sites doing the same thing but TinyURL is one of the most popular ones out there. The most notable ones have been listed below
There are of course some more available but these are renowned ones. As these short URL serve good purpose as you have seen above, these can also be potentially harmful.
Spammers use these nonsensical URLs to camouflage their originals URLs and may redirect the internet user into harmful websites.

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