URL shortening is the translation of a long Uniform Resource Locator (URL) into an abbreviated alternative that redirects to the longer URL.
Short URLs are preferable for a number of reasons. Long URLs in email messages can break if they fail to wrap properly, long URLs in Twitter tweets can leave no room for a message to accompany it and long URLs in text messages can make the accompanying message difficult to read.
URL shortening services typically provide users with:
- The ability to track, analyze and graph traffic statistics.
- Bookmarklets that enable URL shortening without visiting the site.
- The ability to customize shortened URLs.
- A preview function.
The original URL shortener was TinyURL, which is still popular. Other commonly used URL shorteners include bitly, DwarfURL and is.gd.