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5 Reasons Why You Should Use a URL Shortener

There are a lot of rumors going around about URL shorteners. For example, some argue that shortening links can cause your SEO to take a hit—while others insist that URL shorteners pose serious security risks.

But the truth is, that’s just not the case—at least when you use the right tool. Reputable, reliable URL shorteners not only provide short, easy-to-manage links, but also go the extra mile to protect end-users from malicious content. Plus, URL shortening can deliver major benefits to everything from SEO to social media, branding to internal knowledge sharing.

Basically, the right URL shortener can provide a serious boost—to your business, to your employees, and to anyone that accesses your links.

But what, exactly, is a URL shortener? How do they work? And how do they benefit your business? In this article, we break down top cases for using a URL shortener, the benefits of using internal URL shorteners for teams, and how to keep your knowledge secure. 

What are URL shorteners? 

First things first. Before we jump into why you should use a URL shortener, let’s quickly cover what, exactly, a URL shortener is.

A URL shortener is a tool that creates a custom link that will send traffic to any website you choose—only with significantly fewer characters than a traditional URL. While many URL shorteners create shorter links for consumer use, companies also use URL shorteners to create shortened links (known as internal team short links) to strengthen their internal knowledge sharing and make it easier for employees to access the information they need, when they need it.

URL shorteners can also track link performance, giving you invaluable data on who is clicking your links, how often, and where the traffic is coming from—which, if you’re using shortened links to market your business or build your brand, can help you better optimize your strategy.

How do URL shorteners work? 

Now that you understand what URL shorteners are, let’s touch on how they work.

URL shorteners work by redirecting the traffic. When you input a URL into a URL shortener, it creates a shorter link that, when clicked on, redirects the user to the original URL. So, instead of going directly to your website by entering a lengthy URL into your web browser, clicking the shortened link will redirect the end-user to the website/desired asset—bypassing the need for the full URL.

Or, in other words, a lengthy URL and a shortened link created by a URL shortener get the user to the same end destination; they just offer different ways to get there.

5 reasons to use a URL Shortener Tool

There are a number of reasons why you might want to use a URL shortener for both internal and external use including:

Character Limits

Certain platforms, like Twitter, have character limits—which means you can only include a certain number of characters in a post before it gets cut off. URL shorteners reduce the number of characters in a link—which leaves more characters for whatever message you want to post with the link.

Tracking Performance

URL shorteners generally have a data dashboard that allows you to track everything from how many clicks a link has received to where those clicks are coming from—so if you want to keep tabs on how a specific link is performing, URL shorteners can be a huge asset.

Branding

URL shorteners generally have a data dashboard that allows you to track everything from how many clicks a link has received to where those clicks are coming from—so if you want to keep tabs on how a specific link is performing, URL shorteners can be a huge asset.

Shortened links are easier to share on social media—so if you want to get your URL out into the world, a shortened link can be a great way to encourage social sharing, especially if it is an easily memorable link, e.g. a go link can be go/blog, a branded link can have the company’s name in it www.acme/blog.

Internal Knowledge Sharing

Most companies have huge amounts of data and information that their employees need to navigate on a daily basis. Shortened links make it easier to organize and access that data and information, which saves time and energy and can help increase productivity.

Why do URL Shorteners get a Bad Rep for Being Unsafe? 

One of the biggest questions people have about URL shorteners is “are they safe?” And for good reason; URL shorteners have a reputation for being unsafe—and that reputation is not completely unfounded. Because URL shorteners mask the URL, the end-user doesn’t immediately know where the link is taking them. That presents an opportunity for people with less-than-stellar intentions to use URL shorteners to distribute unsafe links—and clicking those links can carry a variety of risks, including:

  • Malware. Cybercriminals sometimes use shortened links as a way to drive users to a website that installs malware on their computer.
  • Phishing. Cybercriminals also sometimes use shortened links as part of phishing scams. They’ll use a shortened link to drive users to a URL that looks legitimate—but is specifically designed to collect sensitive information (like credit card numbers or social security numbers).

However, browser security has come a long way—and if you’re using a secure browser, it should pick up on any less-than-safe links, shortened or not. (For example, Chrome has security features to protect users from suspicious or unsafe websites.) So, while you always want to leverage security best practices when clicking shortened links, they’re a lot less risky than they used to be.

Shortened Internal URL Tool Security Tips 

Want to ensure you’re being as safe as possible with shortened URLs? Here are a few tips to keep you and your staff safe:

  • Consider the source. If you get a shortened link from someone you don’t know or in a suspicious-looking email, make sure to do your research before clicking.
  • Keep your security tools up to date. There are plenty of tools and software that can protect you from shortened URL-related security issues—but only if you keep those tools and software up to date. Make sure you’re regularly updating your network security tools, anti-malware, and other cybersecurity software.
  • When in doubt, check your links. If you’re not sure if a link is secure, check it! Checking a link only takes a few moments—but can save you a ton of time, energy, and hassle in dealing with a security breach. Most URL shorteners have a preview feature that will allow you to see the URL in its entirety, or if the URL shortener you’re using doesn’t have this feature, you can use an external URL checker—like getlinkinfo.com, unshorten.it, or urlxray.com—to make sure a link is safe before clicking.

For internal URL shortening tools, there’s even more protection for your business’ knowledge. With a tool like GoLinks, users must go through an authentication process to verify that they’re part of the organization before accessing any resources. So, even if a company go link was accidentally shared outside of the organization, a random third party wouldn’t be able to access the go link content—which keeps sensitive company information safe and secure.

GoLinks is one of the most effective tools on the market for shortening your URLs—and making it easy for your employees to find the information they need, when they need it.

But just how safe is it?

At GoLinks, security and privacy are our top priorities. We covered in the paragraph above how GoLinks users must have a login to your organization to access your go links, and in addition, we offer a host of safety features to ensure that your information is protected, including:

  • Access logging so you can see exactly who is accessing your information—and the device and IP address they’re using to access that information.
  • The strongest grade of HTTPS security (TS 1.2) to protect requests from attacks
  • Data encryption, both in transit and at rest
  • Availability and data recovery features to ensure your data is safe and available when you need it—even in the event of server failures

Bottom line? If you’re looking for a URL shortener that will keep your sensitive company information/knowledge safe, secure, and private, GoLinks has got you covered.

URL shorteners sometimes get a bad rep. But if you use the right URL shortener—and you use it securely—it can be a total game changer for your business.

Ready to find out how GoLinks can make internal knowledge sharing easier, less time-consuming, and more intuitive for your team—all while offering industry-leading safety and privacy features that keep your company information as secure as possible? Try GoLinks for free today!

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