7 things to look for in a URL snipping Service
By Charles H Smith
URL snipping services are becoming commonplace today. Surfers use them to mask affiliate URLs, shorten very long URL’s, even to hide email addresses from spammers and automatic email harvesters. Ther are several URL snipping services that are no longer active. These inculde: shortlink.us, quickones.org, smlnk.com, and smurl.it. Hopefully, you didn’t lose any carefully crafted and well planned email link campaigns as these services closed.
As you look to snip your URL’s using a free service, there are several items to investgate.
First, do the links expire? If they expire, you may want to look to another service.
Second, is there a direct redirect? If, upon selecting the short URL, you are sent to a transition or intersitial page, this page may change in the future to display an advertisment of the free service. The preferable redirection is a direct link to your short URL.
Third, the service should check the URL and determine is is valid. Everyone makes typos, this simply check for valid URL format.
Fourth, how long has the service been in business? Longevity and reliability are crucial when you are snipping hundreds of affiliate links.
Fifth, is there any Terms of Service that you do not agree with? If there are, look for another service.
Sixth, can you use the URL snipping service to hide email addresses from spammers? Try to snip mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org. If the resulting snipped URL opens your default email program, then you may hide your email address from spammers.
Seventh, are your links available only to the site administrators or are they available to the general public?
An alternative to the free services is your own snipping service, running from your server. This ensures your links are available until you decide to delete them.
Generally speaking, the short URL generators are php/MySQL driven scripts. You would need php installed on your server, your site administrator could tell you if it is. You would also need a MySQL database, again your site administrator could tell you if this is available to you.
Another item to check is the control panel page. It should be a php template that can be edited for color, position etc.
If you are using a shared hosting situation you may not be able to run a script that requires will not allow Mod Rewrites to be on, It should be a webmaster settable configuration.
What’s the difference Mod Rewrites On/Off? As you compare the resulting snipped URL’s, if has a ? in the URL; such as, http://snippedurl.com/?a then the script is set for Mon Rewrites off. This is probably not the preferable URL format. If there is no ? in the snipped URL then it may only be run with Mod Rewrites on.
As you look to snipping your URL’s you may want to bring the service in-house to your server. This will give your site added stickyness as your customers, return time and time again to snip their URL’s.