When it comes to shortening a long URL, most people will think of TinyURL or one of the hundreds of other URL shortening sites. Most, if not all, of these sites take a long URL and generate a short URL based on their domain name.
For example, if you use TinyURL to shorten the long URL http://www.makeuseof.com/this-is-a-long-url-and-I-want-to-shorten-it.html, you will get something like http://tinyurl.com/2h4kud. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this but, what if, instead of using TinyURL, you can do it on your own server and brand it with your domain name?
Shorty is a simple tool for creating shorter, human- readable links from long URLs. You can install Shorty on your server, so the links are based on your own domain name and it never goes away. You can also manage your links and see how often people click on them.
Advantages of creating a short URL with your domain name
There are several advantages of creating short URL on your own server:
1. Branding your own domain name
When you use services like tinyurl.com, you are promoting tinyurl rather than your own domain. Your readers/visitors/followers have absolutely no idea where the link leads to and which site it ends up with. With your own domain name, you can better brand yourself and at the same time give your readers a clear direction where the link is leading them to.
2. The short URL is your own property and does not go down with the third-party site
When you create short URL’s on your own server, the URL is present as long as your server is running. If you use third party services, when their site is down, your short URL goes down with them. The more URL’s you created with them, the more risk you subject yourself to.
3. Give a meaningful phrase rather than a random string of numbers
If I want to shorten a URL such as http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/6-ways-to-turn-your-iphone-into-an-external-hard-disk/, which one is more meaningful: http://tinyurl.com1/3x4fphre or http://www.makeuseof.com/s/iphone-drive?
4. Statistical purpose
Services such as Tinyurl does not come with a tracking code and you are not able to find out how many people clicked that link. When you create it on your own server, you can implement a tracking script to monitor the number of click throughs.
In Shorty, there are three different ways that you can use it to generate short URL’s:
The tool automatically grabs a word from the long URL and appends it to the end of your domain name. This is useful if you want a quick and easy way to generate a short URL.
Using the Keyword option, you can customize your short URL with meaningful keywords or short words that you can identify the link with. For example, you can customize the long URL: http://www.makeuseof.com/this-is-a-long-url-and-I-want-to-shorten-it-with-shorty.html to http://www.makeuseof.com/s/shorty.
Random allows you to generate short URL’s the TinyURL way. It will generate a short URL with random alphabets and numbers.
The Admin page is where you can modify/delete your short URL’s and check how many times your links have been clicked on.
To install Shorty, you need to have Apache, MySQL and PHP installed on your server. As a rule of thumb, if your server can run WordPress or any other PHP-based applications, it is good enough to install Shorty.
In conclusion, if you are constantly using third party sites to generate short URLs, you might as well use Shorty since it is easy to install, use and you are able to market your domain at the same time. However, if you just want to create short URLs (that link to other sites) quickly so you can post in Twitter, then TinyURL (or any other URL shortening sites) might be the one to go for.