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Why You Need to, and How to Shorten Your Web Links

Robin Henry
 


Visitors: 225

There are good reasons why you need to shorten and often modify the appearance of your web URLs, especially if you are an Internet marketer. Several of these reasons are explained in this short article.

URLs, or Universal Resource Locators come in various lengths ranging from quite short to ridiculously long. The longer they get, the greater the chance that an error will be made in using them. For example, long links are more difficult to type into the address field of your browser and the chances of a typo increases the longer they get. Take a look at this example:

(I've removed the http:// parts in this article to comply with Ezinearticles publishing requirements about active links in documents)

personalweb. about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?zi=1/XJ/Ya&sdn=personalweb&cdn=compute&tm=74&gps=65_8_1276_596&f=20&tt=14&bt=0&bts=0&zu=http%3A//www.geoci/hectik00/

This link falls into the ridiculously long URL category. If you had to manually enter it into your browser, either you wouldn't bother or you'd have a high risk of getting it wrong and creating a dreaded "Error 404 - Address not found" error.

One of the problems that occurs with long URLs is truncation ie, the URL breaks to create a line end in the document it's in eg, an email message. When users click on it, it won't work because parts of the URL are separated. This is very annoying and is a sure way to put clients off.

If you are an Internet marketer selling something online, sometimes your URL makes it obvious that clicking on the link will take clients to an affiliate site from which you receive a commission on any purchases they make. For some reason, better speculated upon by psychologists than me, many people actively change the affiliate link to deny you your commission on purchases they make. Others change your affiliate link to theirs to rob you of your commission. While better affiliate management programs can avert this, many can't.

An alternative method is for buyers to join the affiliate program and then make the purchase using their own affiliate link. Again, well managed affiliate programs don't allow this, but not all are well managed and sometimes people can get away with it robbing you of your hard won commission.

This brings me to another reason why you need to shorten your URL. When you shorten a URL, you not only shorten it to a more user friendly version, but you change it so it doesn't look like an obvious affiliate link. Here's an example of an affiliate link before and after (http://www removed again):

cbmall.com/?storefront=somename

Note that the base URL is obvious as is the affiliate name "somename". Users can either go direct to the base URL or change the "somename" portion of the affiliate link. But we can change this link using one of several free programs readily available on the web (see link in my signature box). What you do with these programs is enter your original link, click a button and up pops a neater alternative like this:

fly2. ws/64t6tMi

When users click on the alternative link, it acts exactly like the original taking them to the site of interest. They can neither see the base URL or the affiliate parts of the URL immediately, although as they load the page, the site URL will usually appear providing another opportunity to change URLs. Hopefully, by this time they are busy reading the text on the page rather than thinking of ways to screw you out of your commission.

Conclusion

There are various methods you can use to change your URL or "cloak" it, some highly technical requiring a sound knowledge of programming or at least the money to get someone who does know programming to do it for you. If you want a quick, simple and reasonably effective method to provide at least a modicum of protection, then the URL substitution method is a good place to start.

Copyright 2007 Robin Henry | Published April 2007

Robin Henry is an educator, human resources specialist and Internet entrepreneur who writes articles about a wide range of topics. Visit his site at http://www.web-names.ws

To shorten your links, you can use http://www.fly2.ws which provides a free service that has no affiliation with the author.

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