URL shorteners can make long URLs easy to deal with. But they can be used for so much more: bookmarks, audible ads, and links that change their destination.
It’s holiday season at Green Growing Things plant store! Owner Bernice has decided to self-publish a book on the safe care and feeding of Audrey II carnivorous plants. It’s entitled “Blooms Without Blood” and she expects it to rocket to the top of Amazon’s list of gardening best-sellers.
Being a savvy businesswoman, Bernice has every intention of getting her book linked to everywhere she can. She’d like the link to be an affiliate link, so she can get paid not just for being the author, but also for placing the distribution link.
But there’s only one problem. The affiliate link is a mile long. It’s https://www.plantbooks.com/Blooms-WithoutBlood/dp/B00ZQXIZ5WC/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1523424203&sr=8-6&keywords=blooms... Get the picture? It’s like Bernice’s first pet bulldog: big, ugly, and incomprehensible. That bulldog made Bernice’s very first Audrey II very happy.
1. A URL shortener can save affiliate links
When you have a long affiliate link like that, you can barely post it anywhere. The link fills an entire social media post. Try to embed it in an email and some email clients will break it halfway through. But you can make it manageable with a URL shortener.
The first URL shortener I ever encountered was http://tinyurl.com. You enter a long, ugly URL like Bernice’s, and TinyUrl gives you back a short, beautiful URL that goes to the same place. For example, https://tinyurl.com/yl9v2e8. You can use the short URL wherever the long URL won’t fit. One click on the short link redirects back to the original long link.
The shortened URL is more than just shorter. It’s nicer and cleaner to look at. It hides affiliate and marketing tags. And if someone copies and pastes the link, they won’t accidentally cut the link off in the middle.
Many services like Twitter, Wordpress.com, Google, and Amazon have built-in URL shorteners to make it easy to refer to the links those sites generate.
2. Use a custom tag for ease
But tinyurl.com/yl9v2e8 isn’t very memorable. Fortunately, TinyURL lets you specify the part after the slash. I call that the “tag.” Bernice happily enters her long URL, and then enters BloomsWithoutBlood as the tag. Voila! Now she should be able to go to http://tinyurl.com/bloomswithoutblood and it will go right to her bookstore affiliate link.