File Under: Web Services

Google Jumps on the URL-Shortening Bandwagon With Goo.gl

Given the rapid proliferation of URL-shortening services of late, it was only a matter of time before Google got into the game.

Now the company has debuted its own URL-shortening service at the new domain goo.gl. (That’s the top-level domain of Greenland, by the way; its awesome coat of arms is at right).

At launch, goo.gl integrates with Google’s FeedBurner publishing tool and Google Toolbar, but the company plans to roll it out as a more full-featured web service later. At least for now, outside apps like Twitter clients won’t be able to access the goo.gl domain to shorten links, which means there’s still a place for Bit.ly and the other services like it. But with Facebook also rumored to be working on a homegrown URL-shortening service, and with Bit.ly now offering a white-label “pro” version of its service that would give any site the ability to run its own custom URL shortener, we suspect the days of dedicated URL shorteners are numbered.

The FeedBurner integration allows FeedBurner customers to automatically send updates from their RSS feeds to Twitter and any other services where limited post lengths dictate the need for shorter URLs.

That’s bad news for a third-party service like Twitterfeed, which has long enabled bloggers to automatically tweet new posts using their RSS feeds. If you’re already using FeedBurner to host and track your site’s RSS feeds, now there’s no need to rely on outside services to post to Twitter. The new FeedBurner option also takes advantage of the Twitter’s OAuth support, so you won’t need to hand over your Twitter username and password to Google.

You can also use the new goo.gl service through the Google Toolbar, which will allow you to post shortened links to any page, much like you would with Bit.ly and other services.

Right now, Bit.ly is the URL shortener favored by Twitter, and is therefore the largest such service. Bit.ly collects massive amounts of data on the billions of clicks that flow through its short URL service every month. Such data mining is extremely valuable for anyone in the businesses of advertising and real-time search, so we can expect Google to be keeping a close eye on every click at goo.gl. The privacy policy for the goo.gl service says, “Google may choose to publicly display aggregate and non-personally identifiable statistics about particular shortened links, such as the number of end user clicks.” If you don’t want Google harvesting this data, then the new service is not for you.

Of course the bigger problems with URL shorteners — link-rot, spam and redirect mishaps to name a few — are still problems regardless of whether the shortener is controlled by Google or anyone else. And for anyone who thinks that Google services have a better chance of being around far into the future, may we remind you that Google Notebook, Google Answers and several other services have disappeared over the years.

As always, if you really want a future-proof URL shortener, your best bet is to build your own using one of the many libraries and apps available for Python, PHP, Ruby and other popular programming languages.

See Also: