Tuesday Tutorial: Shorten that Link!


Let’s just say you’ve been asked to do a blog interview, or your sending out a press release, or you’re sending out a e-newsletter. In each of those cases, you want to provide a clickable purchase link to your book. Of course you’re more than happy to do that, right? You want people to buy your book – who doesn’t? So why would you give them THIS UGLY LINK????  http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Book-ebook/dp/B007SAVB7G/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1335018955&sr=1-1-fkmr0

Ugly, isn’t it? Then don’t do it. Not only is it hideous, it looks unprofessional. But Kat, what choice do I have? you ask. First of all, you may refer to me as Czarina. Secondly, there is an easy and free option: TinyURL.com.

BITLYNow before everyone jumps down my throat for not saying the popular Bitly.com – if that’s what you’re more comfortable with, use it. Bitly does offer quite a bit of functionality, reporting and more.

What I like about TinyURL.com is that it’s quick and you can customize the shortened URL so it doesn’t look like you’re providing a ‘mystery link’. I’m far more willing to click on tinyurl.com/BADBOOK than bit.ly/ldvqZZ. Do you smell what I’m stepping in?

Using TinyURL.com is easy, free and convenient.

So, go to TinyURL.com and paste in your ugly, nasty long-ass URL where I’ve put the aqua arrow. Then type in what you’d like your new, short and sassy URL to be where I’ve put the magenta arrow. Yes, that is magenta. I had the box of 164 kajillion different Crayola crayons when I was a kid and I memorized them all, even burnt sienna and cornflower. But I digress. Click the Make TinyURL button.

TinyURL.com will tell you if someone has already used the link you’ve chosen. In this case, someone has already used BADBOOK – ruffians! Imposters! So, I added parody to the end and tried again. Now I have my spiffy new shortened, convenient and easy to fit in a wallet URL: http://tinyurl.com/BADBOOKPARODY.

There’s no longer any need to provide people with hideously long and gnarly links. And, you can use these links over and over again – it’s not just a one-time use thing. So record them somewhere and share away!

Remember, when it comes to links, size matters. Shorter is better. And let’s just leave it at that. Now practice making your short links today because tomorrow you’ll be able to share them in our “Shorter is Better” like-fest!

Author: K.S. Brooks

K.S. Brooks is an award-winning novelist, photographer, and photo-journalist, author of over 30 titles, and executive director and administrator of Indies Unlimited. Brooks is currently a photo-journalist and chief copy editor for two NE Washington newspapers.  She teaches self-publishing and writing topics for the Community Colleges of Spokane, and served on the Indie Author Day advisory board. For more about K.S. Brooks, visit her website and her Amazon author page.

18 thoughts on “Tuesday Tutorial: Shorten that Link!”

  1. So does Tiny offer the stats to go with it? I find that invaluable when I'm working with a client to determine effectiveness of a campaign.

    I would love to have both aspects–customize and stats. I know, asking for a lot.

    When I don't care about stats, I use Tiny to customize.

    1. Jim, TinyURL doesn't offer stats as far as I know, but I've never been interested in stats, so I haven't looked into it. I know Bitly does offer the stats and a lot more.

    1. Tsk tsk? Now, now, Linda, many of our readers wouldn't know what was and wasn't needed in that gobbledy-gook of a URL. This way, there's no making a mistake. I do what you're suggesting all the time, but I know how to write HTML and can quickly and easily identify what can and can't be removed. And of course, TinyURL can be used for any website…not just Amazon.com.

      1. Ahhhhh, now I see! Since you used the Amazon example, I thought those horrible long urls of theirs were what you were after. Anyway, for Amazon, only the /dp/ and book id # are necessary when WRITERS want to provide their links.

  2. Thanks for the tips! I actually use tiny url, but didn't know you could customize it – that rocks! As usual, this goes in my online file cabinet for when I need it.

    1. You're welcome! I'm under the impression bitly allows you to customize as well, but I think you have to sign up for a free account with them to do that. To me, having to log in just adds one more step, and I don't need another account log in to remember!

  3. Shorter is especially important when dealing with the 140 character limit on Twitter, so yeah.

    And more as a tangent, Kat: that ugly URL you quote above? If, for some reason, you are extra pressed for time and don't have the few seconds to go to TinyURL or Bitly, you can just cut the end off. Sounds painful, I know, but if you crop everything after and including the letters ref, you still have a slightly less ugly URL, like this: http://www.amazon.com/Bad-Book-ebook/dp/B007SAVB7

    Nowhere near as neat, but a very fast fix all the same.

    1. True, David. And I do the cropping thing on the Amazon links all the time. B&N is not so easy to decipher, and the TinyURL usage is great for that as well as long article URLs and search-result URLs. 🙂

      1. Yeah. Until I read this post, I didn't realise TinyURL links were customizable. Far as useful, practical info goes, that's gold, right there.

        And as an afterthought, it makes you wonder why Amazon bother with those long, ugly links at all when the shorter, cropped version works. What is the point of them?

        1. Excellent!

          The ugly links are caused by cookies and tracking type code. There's probably a better term for it, but I'm not sure what it is. Usually you get to a book via a search or the author central page, but you almost always get to a book from somewhere else, and the coding after the book page is a clue to how you got there. Or something like that. LOL

  4. Awesome post!! THANK YOU!! I never knew about this. SO super stoked. You have no idea! I was always so embarrassed pasting in these hideously long urls. This rocks!!

  5. Hmmm… I usually use <a href= blah blah with a disguised link but now I'm wondering whether I should. Never occurred to me that people might be leery of clicking a link where they can't see where they're going 🙁 Maybe I should give them both so they know they're not being lead astray. Thanks.

  6. You have made an old lady very happy! My links now look neat tidy and almost professional. This is so simple – I can't understand why I haven't found this before. Thank you – you are brilliant!

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