URL Shortening

What Does URL Shortening Mean?

URL shortening is a technique in which a shortened URL or IP address is used to direct to the same page as the longer address. URL shortening uses an HTTP redirect technique, which facilitates the multiple URL availability for specific Web pages.

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URL shortening is used in many situations, including:

  • Posting messages that must accommodate character limits, such as Twitter or SMS
  • Storing, reading, copying, or listing numerous URLs
  • Engaging potential customers of products and services
  • Engaging users for fun or pranks

URL shortening is also known as URL redirecting.

Techopedia Explains URL Shortening

In 2002, TinyURL, the first URL shortening service was created, and was followed by more than 100 other similar websites. In August 2009, some of these services discontinued for many reasons, including lack of a generating mechanism (new unique keys), lack of potential market/user interest, site maintenance costs, and Twitter’s default bit.ly shortener. In late 2009, NanoURL and Google announced new URL shortening services.

For example, a shortened version of this term’s URL might look like this: http://bit.ly/pQ3dPx. However, if a user clicks this link, he or she will be redirected to this page on Techopedia.

URL shortening services often face the following issues:

  • International legal restrictions, such as government URL blocks
  • Linkrot, where Internet and shortening service providers fail for various reasons
  • Privacy concerns
  • Additional required yet complex layers to view original URLs associated with shortened versions
  • Spyware

Due to security, not all URL schemes support URL shortening, like those including data and JavaScript.

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Margaret Rouse

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.