I was looking into URL shortening services recently – there are literally THOUSANDS out there! Of course, I didn’t count them all but there does appear to be an abundance.
What is a URL Shortening Service? Good question:
They shorten long URL’s making them engaging and easier to work with, really?!
So why do would I want to shorten a URL in the first place? Firstly, if I link to a long unsightly URL within HTML then I could do this via text aka “hyper link” making it appear more orderly. Secondly if I am sending an email, writing documents or on twitter, it optimizes space and makes things look much cleaner.
After a bit of thought I realized, there must be something more to it, what other bits of Internet traffic gold could I get out of these services?
Since I placed myself on the twitter bandwagon I’ve been using a URL shortening service http://is.gd. I’ve always wished I could see how many of my twitter URL’s are getting clicked, which would give me a greater understanding of what I should be venting and sharing (as I do like the sound of my own voice).
This got me thinking……..
Imagine the traffic that these guys are putting through, each time
someone clicks on a shortened URL’s the click will go from the
shortening servers through to the final URL. A popular URL shortening
service would be channeling thousands of clicks at any given second =
TRAFFIC TRAFFIC TRAFFIC!
2. What about all the extra data they
are capturing? These services would store some great information about
what sites are popular and where they are clicking. I’m sure there
would be plenty of Competitive Intelligence guys out there that would
pay serious cash for this info.
3. Visitor tracking – some of
these services let you preview the page before you land on it (one of
the reasons for this is to limit abuse). OK, let’s say a visitor
previewed the page though never landed on it! I’m sure there is data to
extract from these stats, bounce rates etc?
After reviewing various URL shortening services to see what Internet gold I can get (thanks to mashable urlshortening services and seomoz the benefits and pitfalls of url shorteners). I’ve decided to opt for http://bit.ly/ since they provide more thorough analytics.
These guys are free, provide a pretty cool service, it is jam packed full of graphs, and is simple to use.
I like is when you login you’re greeted with a clean interface that is
easy to understand, bang straight in front of you is the URL field,
whack in the URL and click shorten .. DONE!
Taking the next step
and getting a little smarter you can then post this directly to your
twitter account and within minutes you get some data to flick through.
The cool thing about these guys is they provide relatively quick
reporting on traffic. Within a few seconds of posting I can see people
in Canada, UK and USA are clicking on my posts. Very satisfying –
people actually read my tweets!
At a glance you can also see which shortened URL has received the most clicks, handy.
Other features include:
Sharing Your URL
Sharing the shortened URL via other means i.e. email, gmail (which last time I looked was email?) and Facebook.
URL Meta Data
provide info about the URL, most importantly the Meta data. I’m not
entirely sure why they include this as these shorten URL’s are not
exactly SEO friendly but hey – I LIKE IT!
My question is, where
can they go from here? Can they capture more data and use this to
measure demographics and provide specific CI data? What other analytics
In the past I was skeptical about URL shortening services, but I am sold on http://bit.ly. They have become my partner in twitter in a really “short” time.