January 16th, 2010, 10:27 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: London, Antarctica
The Joy of Bit.Ly
- A heads up here on the serious advantages of using bit.ly! You've probably seen urls like http://bit.ly/8O7IoM and may have wondered what they're about.
But what about this http://bit.ly/SidsWay ? which hides the very unattractive http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joze5yGLUJc&fmt=18&rel=0
Is that difficult? Does it cost? No, it's easy. And it's free.
The main thing bit.ly does is shorten your url. This is a great boon for posting to sites that always seem to screw up long URLs or have limits on length, and tinyurl.com was the first service like this to become popular.
But Bit.ly goes much further. Next time I go to http://bit.ly I can see a log of everyone who clicks my urls, including stats on when that url was clicked, and from where.
But there's more. If you create a Bit.ly url they first check to see if anyone else has shortened that same one and combine the stats. In itself this can be useful. But if you want to keep track of only your own referrals you can use a 'custom name' to create a unique bit.ly url, which then gets it's own tracking data, and looks kinda cool!
You can also add code to the URL to include a message. So, if you follow http://bit.ly/SidsWay you will see I've added &EAT-MORE-BANANAS! to the url displayed up top.
For that last trick all you need to do (and you can do this to virtually any url you want to shrink and track) is add '&' and then alphanumeric characters. Browsers will disregard these, but bit.ly will include them and treat the whole url as unique. It's also a way of differentiating urls from each other that link to the same site - so you could just add &1, &2, etc.
Ironically, what I've found to be most useful about this is discovering which of my links are LEAST visited, which tells me where I'm completely wasting my time! For instance, a Twitter campaign to plug my Sid video has only yielded 3% of my hits! Next time I'll concentrate my efforts elsewhere. Twitter is well overrated.
If only you could do the same with your life. Get hard stats on exactly where you've wasted your time. Or would that be too depressing..?
BTW Make sure your modified link actually works before posting it anywhere!
And if anyone knows of any alphanumeric sequences TO BE AVOIDED please let me know!