Have you ever wanted to share a long URL on Twitter without having it use up your character limit? Or wondered how many people have clicked on a particular link that you shared? Or even just wondered what on earth a goo.gl link was?
If so then, you’ve come to the right blog article! Today I’m going to go through how to use the Google goo.gl service to create short URLs that can be easily shared, and tracked by you, the micro business owner.
And guess what, you don’t even need to have a Google Account for this service to work! But let’s look first at what goo.gl actually is.
What is goo.gl?
Goo.gl is a service offered by Google, to allow people to create short URLs and then track some basic analytics related to that shortened URL.
It is extremely easy to use – simply go to the goo.gl website and either type or paste in, the URL that you wish to shorten and click on the “Shorten URL” button.
The website will instantly convert something like this URL: http://thatonlinestuff.com.au/how-to-create-calendar-events-that-repeat-on-certain-days-of-the-week/ to something like this URL: https://goo.gl/wYVBZ5.
Definitely much shorter and much more convenient to share around via social media etc. So you can then simply copy that shortened URL by clicking on the clipboard icon and share it where-ever you like: Twitter, Facebook, Google+. You can even use it in an email if you like or a text message.
Tracking the short URL
However, while it’s useful to have a shortened URL, it’s the simple analytics that Google provides are the icing on the cake for me. To use these though you do need to be logged into your Google account.
Click on the vertical menu to the right of the URL link (see the image below) to get access to some basic analytics including:
- How many people have clicked on the shortened URL and when they clicked on the link
- Which country they were in at the time
- Where did they click the link – Twitter, Facebook, email, etc.
- What browser they were using and
- What mobile platform (Android, iOS) they were using
From the same menu you can also choose to hide the URL from view (you can’t get rid of it altogether) or create a QR code for the link – which I never do because I don’t really use QR codes much anymore.
Unfortunately it isn’t all good news when using goo.gl. Google doesn’t allow any sort of modification to the letters/numbers that appear after the goo.gl part of the URL, which means you can end up with some pretty ugly looking URLs.
If you’d like to have shortened URLs that better reflect your business’ branding, then you’ll need to pay for a service like bit.ly which allows you to edit your short URLs.
Also, anyone can see the shortened URL analytics simply by going to https://goo.gl/#analytics/GOO.GL URL HERE/all_time (replacing the GOO.GL URL HERE with the actual URL of course!). So if you’d really prefer other people didn’t have access to that information, you may wish to use Google Analytics instead.
But apart from those small negatives, the goo.gl tool is a very quick and simple way to shorten URLs for sharing and tracking across the web.
Got a question about shortening URLs or using Google technology in your business? Drop me a line – I’d love to hear from you!