URLs can be long and hard to type, but they're also lengthy for a reason. They give web servers more information about the content you're trying to find online. More specifically, each character in that URL represents something important about where the browser is headed; every single character counts, including spaces! If you've ever shortened a link before, you'll know there's a much easier way to find what you're searching for. However, the shorter the URL is, the less information it will contain…so how do they work?
Websites that shorten URLs are called "URL shorteners." They take long links and give them an easy-to-remember address. Keep in mind, a URL
shortener isn't a web server. Rather, they use a web server to do the heavy lifting behind the scenes; in other words, shortening links doesn't require much effort on their end.
Google's popular link shortener is called goo*.gl (formerly known as Google URL Shortener). The platform can be accessed* by using any internet* browser and typing "https://goo.gl/," which suddenly makes URLs much easier to share with friends and family members across all social media platforms. Before you hit send though, it's important to make sure your privacy settings are set correctly:
The letter "h," in this case, means that your information is encrypted. It encrypts URLs so that only the people who need to see your data can, which means you're protected* from prying eyes. If you're wondering why encrypting URLs is important, consider this: if someone sees what you've shared on social media, they could potentially alter it before sending it on to other users. By selecting "https://goo.gl/," anyone can be secure in knowing their information is safe and sound*.
It's easier than ever to create short links with Google's URL shortener tool; however, keep in mind that it has a limit of 30,000 characters per day! That may seem like plenty of room for most, but if you wanted to shorten an entire article or post, you'd have to use another shortener.
Not all shortening services are free, but plenty offer a year's worth of free service before they start charging for it*. Be sure to visit the terms and conditions section on any URL shortener website you sign up with to learn about their pricing plans.
So how do URL shorteners actually work? Many popular link-shortening websites like goo*.gl use Google App Engine (GAE)*; however, it's important to know that GAE isn't necessary for creating shortened URLs. Rather, GAE acts as an interface between web servers; in other words, it's there to perform functions that wouldn't otherwise be possible if the programmer didn want his or her software integrated* with a specific web server. Remember, shortened URLs aren't created on the same web servers as the sites they lead to; rather, they're just shortcuts that give internet browsers an easy-to-remember address for where they're headed. In essence, GAE is simply acting as a go-between* of sorts!
Shortened links are typically used for social media purposes or email links; however, some sites like Pinterest and Tumblr use their own individual URL shorteners too*. If you've ever noticed weird characters at the end of your Pinterest links , it's because the platform automatically shortens them using its own internally stored link shortener tool! Luckily, those websites also provide a way for you to see where their links lead too with a simple hover of your mouse.
Other popular link shorteners include bitly.com and tinyurl.com, which both provide customizable shortened URLs as well as advanced* tracking tools so website owners can keep track of clicks from specific sources*. In fact, those types of services are especially useful to companies who spend thousands on Google Adwords* but still aren't able to see which ads are generating the most traffic through their shortened links!
URL shorteners have a purpose, but it's important to learn how they work in case you ever want to build your own or use a URL shortener that doesn't offer custom options. Rather than just cutting and pasting the destination into your browser bar, keep in mind that shortened URLs are simply another way of sharing information with other users.
Title: How do URL shorteners work?