The concept of Short URLs is wonderful. Instead of very long, multi foldered URLs that can be hard to remember, type in and break in emails, how about a URL with few characters that can be generated in seconds, pasted wherever needed and redirects to the page you want readers to go to. All this and great tracking capabilities to boot. Perfect for today’s world with social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and the ever increasing effectiveness of email marketing.
But the fact that thousands of sites can be linked to by the same main URL domain can lead to a trust issue. How do you know if the link will lead to a safe site that really matches the copy that surrounds it? Is it possible that the link is a spam link, and the enticing copy surrounding it is only there to trick you into clicking on it? Does the fact that you don’t know make you more or less likely to click on it?
Even though the majority of Short URLs you come across will indeed be safe and link to a good page, the truth is that it is tough to be 100% sure that what you are clicking on is safe, and will lead directly to where you want to go. And we all know that one bad click can sometimes ruin a good day. So, what are some tips to keep in mind when you come across Short URLs:
- If you trust the sender or poster (like someone you follow on Twitter), you should be okay. But be wary, as some accounts can get hacked and those hackers may spam people associated with those accounts.
- If you think the link may be spam, don’t click on it. If the marketing message entices you, you can probably find out what is being referenced by searching that website.
- Preview the linked page if possible (TinyURL offers this option – https://tinyurl.com/preview.php).
I believe that the need for a service like Short URLs will always be there, but the exact form the future versions of this service will take is yet to be determined. Do you have ideas of what it will look like? Do you have alternatives to Short URLs? Have you run into any huge problems? Let us know.