How You Can Make, Expand and Install Your Own Shortened URL Service Right Onto Your Blog

If this is a trend, I’ve begun to do a little bit of it myself. Reason being I saw it done on Twitter and considered it an effective way to bring some of the classic stuff back into the pool. If that’s ethical or not, I don’t seem to mind. There’s always room for reviving some good o’l ideas.

Now I’ve even thought about some of the better reasons why retweeting your old posts can be effective. Especially if getting traffic to your blog on a steady basis is your goal.

  1. It establishes content for new readers.
  2. Old readers may reconsider to subscribe via RSS or e-mail.
  3. A flux of new comments can be created.
  4. New possibilities for sharing content across social networks can be found.

While I have tried to stay true to the process. The reasons above seemed likely to be something which oftentimes happen unconsciously. The way it works also depends on your site’s ability to convert traffic well.

You’ll notice I’m always testing things around on this blog. If it’s doesn’t at least attract 1 comment a day, I move things around. Thus, I’m a serial tester when it comes to converting.

You just have to find out what works for you and build upon it daily.

Twitter’s Ideal Marketing Plan

As I reviewed John Chow’s Ultimate Blog Profit Model, there was an article he directed me towards his blog to prove his point that e-mail was the winner when it comes to making money online. In testing out e-mail vs blogging vs twitter, he mentioned that Twitter makes money well for one particular reason:

…the Twitter setup is ideally suited for affiliate marketers since all the URLs are cloaked behind a URL shorten service. You don’t really know if the link you’re clicking on is a normal link or an affiliate link.

Long story short, traffic is something which we all appreciate and Twitter does it well as it compresses the links for us to share. Thus, many of the tweets shoot out links from bit.ly, tinyurl or google’s own.

You can also use Ping.FM as a dashboard to broadcast messages across all your social networks. They too have their own URL shortening service. It seems overwhelming but there’s hundreds of services like these online with some that provides tracking, statistics, automatic shortening from your browser and IP logging of the overall click-thrus.

A list of the better sites include:

  • bit.ly
  • ow.ly
  • tinyurl
  • budurl
  • snipeurl

Below, Lifehacker ran a test to see which shortening service provided the fastest delivery and which should be reconsidered for it’s reliability of service online. The most popular services are going head to head yet there’s one absolute winner amongst them all, fb.me which is Facebook’s very own shortening service.

a chart of the fastest URL shorteners on the netHere’s also a list of other shortening services that can be found on the web. Overall, sites like these pop up all over the net every day. This list is provided for you courtesy of Long URL Please and keep in mind, there may be more now.

a list of shorten URL service courtesy of Long URL PleaseExploiting the Shortened URL

While not a lot of us think about what’s behind the URLs we click in Twitter every day, unconsciously without as a thought to what’s behind it, the threat isn’t huge. However, what if it is? Somewhere down the line when more and more folks begin to tweet, there will be more random acts of shortened link attacks.

Most of the time, I normally click on suggestions from those I follow, however there are a few exceptions which I do question every once in awhile. This led me to investigate further which services are available online to help me expand these cloaked links. Furthermore, you have the right to know what’s behind anything you click as well.

Let’s check out some of the ways our links can be exploited shall we?

  • ExpandMyURL
  • Long URL Please
  • Sucuri
  • UnHid
  • UnTiny

These sites check your links and reveal for you what is the true link behind it. (courtesy of Free Nutz)

Also, if you’re using Mozilla Firefox, there’s good news. A couple of extensions are available which you can use in combination with the related services to expand the full URL for you.

  1. Bit.ly’s URLs are expanded with bit.ly preview
  2. Long URL Please used in conjunction with LongURLplease

The downside to using a third-party service is the URL shortening services are exactly like blogging on Blogger or WordPress. That is the URLs do not belong to you. It belongs to the site which hosts the shortened links for you. So if the service suddenly shuts down, you lose all your shortened links. This is bad in several ways:

  • Your links become dead.
  • You have to find another shortening service.
  • You’re losing out on affiliate promotions.

So what solutions are there which will allow us to take control of our own links? I’ve compiled a few services which I think you’ll find useful towards implementing your own cloaked links online.

Your Own Shortened URL

There are plugins and scripts which will allow you the freedom to create and make your own shortened URLs. They also come with tracking services that helps you keep afloat of what’s performing well and what’s not. This is great for cloaking affiliate links. No more long ugly links.

These tweaks are mainly geared towards installations of self-hosted WordPress platforms. A note of caution – I would steer away from dabbling with the programming part with the installation of scripts. If you’re not an experienced programmer, the plugins will do you just fine. They are:

  • La Petite URL Main Page, La Petite URL WordPress Plugins Repository
  • Pretty Link Main Page, Pretty Link WordPress Plugins Repository

I use Pretty Link myself on this blog. It’s FREE, easy and cloaks the long links on your blog using your URL as the base. Plus, you can see how many people are clicking through in the tracking section. So you see, this can be great for affiliate cloaking but most importantly, it’s a great way to dress up your internal links without a lot numbers and dashes falling all over the place. Thus, you get something like this:

 http://www.bloggingfor.info/clickme

La Petite URL is also another plugin which gets the job done. You won’t have to worry about losing the links unless your site goes down. So all the linking is done within your dashboard. I think that’s really sweet. In fact, the best part about this plugin is the link is so short, it comes out looking like:

http://exfu.ws/clickme

Overall, the advance stuff which I recommended you mess around with ONLY if you know programming for PHP, CSS or SQL is presented here last. Remember, you’ll have to do a little bit of code insertion into your .htaccess files in order for it to implement the script towards effectively shortening your URLs inside your blog. These scripts are:

  • Get-Shorty
  • Lessn

Final Thoughts

I hope you found at least something worthwhile to implement into your usage of shortening URLs today. Whether that is making it, expanding it or even installing it on your blog, whatever you do, I recommend you install in on your blog using one of the plugins for now. Like I said, the script can render your blog unusable if you write the code in wrong. I wouldn’t mess with that for now unless you have your blog backed up.

With your own shortening URL service, you’re allowed the freedom to track, name and make links whenever you want without logging into multiple areas. All you have to do is go right into your wordpress dashboard and create away. Have a great day.

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