Using URL shorteners to strengthen brand recognition and gather deep analytics

by Karl Tatgenhorst on January 8, 2011

Don't give your data and space to the little guy!URL shorteners are ubiquitous in social media circles, without them over half of a single tweet could just be a link with little room for commentary. When we use these services, we are inadvertently wasting precious branding space for another brand. Additionally, we are surrendering a lot of analytic data to their companies without thought for what we might be losing. I’ve decided that I am going to start using my own URL shortener and find out how much additional data can be gained.

The concept of a URL shortener is very simple. You use a short domain name to start with (or a long one if you choose). A PHP program creates a random string to act as the URI. When the link hits the shortening service the URI is rewritten into the name of the location application plus the URI as an argument. The URI is used as a key to find the long URL in the database and the server issues a 301 or a 307 redirect to the original page.

This sequence of events allows us access to the complete headers, including IP address etc… We can also create multiple links so we can backtrack to the source and gauge success of various campaigns. If you are interested in trying this yourself, I am using Yourls for my shortening service. This is yet another great reason to host your blog and other activities on the cloud.

About the author

Karl Tatgenhorst wrote 31 articles on this blog.

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