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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Check back every Monday for tips on topics from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Jess Stratton here, and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointers. In this video, I'm going to be talking about the basics of URL shorteners. Including how to do it, and how to deconstruct a shortened URL so that you know where it's going to take you before you click on it. But let's back up for a second. What's a shortened URL? Well, it takes a very long URL, and goes through a service in which it comes out with a much tiny URL that takes way less characters to send. But still goes to the same site.
So how does it work? Well, it's called a web redirect. The original long URL goes through a service, which you've designed which service you're going to use. And it uses an algorithm to make the URL much smaller. And then that same service, when you type the shortened URL into a browser, will deconstruct the URL, make it long again. And send the person who's clicking on it to the right site. Now, why would you want to use a service like this? Well, some social networks like Twitter limit you to the amount of characters you can use, so every space counts.
Also, it's just tidier. Some URLs can be over 100 characters long. And can contain all sorts of information like parameters and information that you might not want anybody to see right away. It's tidy and sometimes it's hard to paste that into an email or chat window. Finally, it's also trackable. When you use a shortening service, you can see how many people are actually clicking on your link. So, it's very useful for marketing purposes. The last question is, which service should you use? There's lots to try and the real answer to the question, is use them all and find out what works for you.
You may only need to shorten the link once or twice and in that case you can use the Google service. Or there's other sites like www.tinyurl.com and www.bitly.com. Sometimes you find yourself sending the same link over and over and over again, in which case a more robust program like bitly may be for you. Because you can send links over and over again with the click of a button. I'm going to show you how to use bitly in the next video. But this one's focusing on how to send a shortened URL once using the Google service. And also how to deconstruct a shortened URL so you know where it's taking you before you click on it.
I've got my Monday Productivity Pointers course open on lynda.com. And I can see that the URL is a little bit long. Now, this is a great example of one that I might want to shorten. Just paste it into a chat window, or to tweet it. So the first thing that I'm going to do is select the entire link. Right click with my mouse, and choose, Copy. Now I am going to come over here to this browser tab where I have already got the Google URL shortener up. But in case if you wanted it, its goo.gl and that will take you right to this page.
I can come in here and right click and paste my long URL in I can see it. And now I am going to click the blue shortened URL button. Now the last thing I have to do is, get through the captcha service first to prove that I'm not a robot. So I'm going to type in that text, click Verify. And here's my shortened link, it's already highlighted. So I can press Cmd+C to copy it to my clipboard. Now i can paste this link anywhere I want. For example, I can paste it into Twitter.
I right click and choose Paste or Cmd+V. Now I'll get a nice link in there that's tidy and takes up less characters. It's also much easier to paste it into a chat window. So what about links that other people have shortened? I've got Lynda's site up on Twitter. And I can see that there is a link here that I'm looking at. Now I know Lynda.com and I know this link is safe. But it's a good example of some links that you'll see that you have no idea where they are going to lead you to. Some people may send you links like this in an email or in a tweet.
There's so many services now, it's hard to keep up with what these are. So you can actually take this link and deconstruct it to find out where it's going to go. I suggest doing this if you're ever given a link and it's from somebody you don't know. Or if it's from a Twitter follower that you don't know very well. So what you can do, is click and drag, hit Cmd+C on your keyboard or right click and copy the link. And now we're going to go to a new site called, longurl.org. This is a free service that will expand that link for you and tell you exactly where it's going to take you.
If I put my cursor right in the white box, it blanks out and it's going to let me paste my link in to it. From here, I can click Expand. And now I can see exactly where that long URL is and where it's going to take me. It'll take me to the title of the page, and what the URL is. So it's up to me to decide why I want to go there. I can even click on a link right from here. So that's a little bit about how you use shortener services. You can take your link. Put it into a temporary shortener service and it will make it much tidier to use.
And if you're not sure of what somebody else's link is, you can always put it into longurl.org and deconstruct it. In the next video, I'm going to show you how to use a more robust service like Bitly. That way you can save links and send them to people over and over again.
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