I learned something new while I was teaching my Personal Marketing Workshop yesterday.  I learned that Short URLs, while being convenient, aren’t always a good thing.

Problem – As part of the prerequisites for the workshop, I have the students do some job research.  Many of the links I reference are very long.  In fact because they’re so long there are lots of opportunities to mistype the URLs.  So, I thought it would be nice if I shrank the URLs down to something short.  I used one of the popular web based URL shrinking applications.  It works in theory until you discover the short URL domain is blocked by the firewall.  This is especially frustrating when you’ve gone through the trouble of getting your domain approved by the IT department.  If only there was a way to shorten URLs using my own domain.

Solution – The problem of generating short URLs within a particular domain has been solved in the form of a WordPress Plug-in called Pretty Link. Blair Williams has created a tool for shrinking, tracking, and sharing URLs on the internet.  Pretty Link converts URLs into an Permalink address within the domain it runs on.  Pretty Link creates a random short link for you to use or you can override the suggestion and provide your own.  With this tool I was able the convert the short URLs that weren’t working to similar short URLs that utilize my domain.

Here is an example of some short URLs that were quickly converted to use my domain instead.

http://TwitPWR.com/ske converted to http://mrwes.net/ske
http://TwitPWR.com/skh converted to http://mrwes.net/skh
http://TwitPWR.com/skz converted to http://mrwes.net/skz

Resolution – The chances of the short URL working increases wherever my domain is allowed.  When the short URL is converted back to the original URL  it should work as long as it hasn’t been blocked by the firewall.

Added Benefits – Pretty Link provides these added benefits

  • It puts you in control over your links.
  • You don’t have to worry if the short URL provider will change the rules on you.
  • Your short URLs can be tracked, so you get to see if and when they’re being followed.

Flexibility – Pretty Link provides a lot of flexibility

  • You have several options on how you can create your short URL
  • Redirection types
    • 301 Permanent – not changing
    • 307 Temporary – changing
    • Pretty Bar – show Pretty bar above link
    • Cloak Redirection – hide your Target URL
    • Pixel Redirection – tracking purposes
  • Including URL Parameters
    • with parameters
    • without parameters
  • Pretty Bar Customization
    • Show Blog Title in Pretty Bar
    • Show Blog Description in Pretty Bar
    • Show Share links in Pretty Bar
    • Show Target URL in Pretty Bar
  • With the Pro Version

You might have noticed I’m a little excited about this Plugin.  I definitely recommend it to anyone who is using WordPress as their blogging platform.