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Google's URL Shortener goo.gl - now open for public use

 8:16 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

We first introduced the Google URL Shortener (goo.gl) last December as part of Google Toolbar and Feedburner. Since our initial release, we’ve integrated the technology into many other Google products including News, Blogger, Maps, Picasa Web Albums, and Moderator, but people have been asking for a direct way to use the service. Today we're giving goo.gl its own website (http://goo.gl/, of course!). We don't intend to overload goo.gl with features, but we do want it to be the stablest, most secure, and fastest URL shortener on the web.




 8:19 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is certainly a service I expect some people will be using. It might even be a source of data for Google - d'ya think?

I doubt that I'll be using it, unless they actually DO "overload it with features" - like really good tracking. However, they did start out with some decent tracking. For example, here's a shortened URL for this very thread: http://goo.gl/Hrt9 [goo.gl] and you can track the clicks here: http://goo.gl/info/Hrt9#week [goo.gl]

Also note "All goo.gl URLs and click analytics are public and can be shared by anyone." And they generate a QR code, too.


 9:04 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm immediately suspicious. What's that say about me?


 9:26 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google doesn't have a good reputation for supporting its services (feedburner is a perfect example). The last thing I'd want is links to my site wrapped in their url that may...or may not...or maybe sometimes...work.


 9:29 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

I'm immediately suspicious. What's that say about me?

I know, me too. It's easy to be suspicious of anything Google does these days, even if that suspicion is just sort of a generic, free floating anxiety.

I've got to say I like the QR code generation. I've got a number of projects where offline projects need to tie in gracefully with online content and QR codes are the bomb for that.

Robert Charlton

 9:43 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

the QR code generation

Buzz by Matt Cutts


 11:09 pm on Sep 30, 2010 (gmt 0)

Danny Sullivan writes about his short discussion on the topic with Matt Cutts, who was involved in the URL shortener project as part of his "20% time":

"If people are that excited about it, we figured why not open it up to the world," Cutts said.

And is it taking aim at any particular product?

"By just showing up at the table and providing a really nice service, you can motivate everyone to improve in the space," he said. "We definitely don't want to kill anyone."



 8:26 am on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

I don't think I understand what this is.

Is it you get a google url for your website aswell except it's a bit shorter and owned by google?


 10:04 am on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

to James2: Exactly, and also you have some basic statistics available (country, platform, clicks etc)


 10:39 am on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)


how or why would it be at all usefull apart from giving stuff to google?

i feel a dystopian future of google's design coming on.

is google a shortened url for googleisreallyskynetlolpunyhumans?


 11:03 am on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

This is basically another way for Google to locate new content (people might like to shorten the URL before releasing in the social media space) and to see it's popularity.


 11:49 am on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google: Not only do we want to scrape your content and prevent visitors from leaving Google domains but now we want to own your actual URL as well so that there is nothing unique left about your website.

Pitch: Hey kids, let uncle Google create a google URL for your website.


 11:53 am on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

James2, there has been a rising need for shortened URLs since Twitter became popular - tweets are restricted to 140 characters and if you're sharing a link you don't want to waste any character count. Many public url shorteners have already been freely available and some businesses have already created their own.

So the idea is you can shorten a long url for any page, anywhere - not just your own domain. But since the short url can only work while the shortening service's domain is in available to process the clicks and redirect them to the long version, Google is now offering their own service.

URL shorteners can be useful in checking the final destination for malware, and in collecting stats on how many clicks each shortened url accumulates.


 12:36 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Thanks for that tedster, that does make sense but wouldn't a hyper link be better than a shorter url?


 12:57 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

That is one thing Twitter could do that would be helpful - allow users to hyperlink text so that any URL being shared doesn't use up any character count at all. However, there would be a major security problem involved in checking all those links to make sure they are safe for users. After all, Twitter now processes about 100 million messages every day.

Twitter began as a very simple "micro blogging" service - so simple, in fact, that a lot of third party services have sprung up to add this or that useful function. But that core simplicity has no doubt allowed Twitter to grow and scale at tremendous speed. Adding in the ability to hyperlink text would have many repercussions for the existing ecosystem, probably risking disruptive.


 2:08 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Twitter is getting ready to launch their own shortening service for links in tweets and and from what I've read, it will shorten using their service even if it's already been shortened.

With all the current shortening services out there, why do we suddenly need a new one? We don't, Google just wants to gather more of your data.

I won't be using anything from Google because they don't do stuff out of the kindness of their hearts.


 4:47 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

That QR code implementation is an interesting one. As smartphones continue to become used more and more, a QR code, or barcode, is quite useful and saves typing on a small screen.

I haven't quite worked out how it could be put to best use, yet, however, it has given me some ideas.

As to the shortener: I'm sure that many less suspicious folks will make use of it. After all, you can't get to the stats on most public shorteners.

Robert Charlton

 5:45 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

Something to consider... if you have a destination with genuine popularity in the social sphere, it may be that having your social click-throughs counted directly by Google may be more help to you than not.


 5:48 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

With all the current shortening services out there, why do we suddenly need a new one?

It's reminding me of Chrome. What's the point? Brings nothing new to the table, except more ways for Google to gather data (yawn).

I get the feeling that social notworking is starting to sway Google's direction for too much IMO. Random musings by millions is mostly time-wasting and who wants to read it all? A handful of tweets a day might be of genuine interest/importance to the general public. The rest is just fluff.


 8:46 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

im glad that it will help familiarize the public with different TLD's so more and more people learn that there are also 2 letter extensions.


 10:51 pm on Oct 1, 2010 (gmt 0)

So, has google done a deal with Greenland over using their TLD or have they simply bought the country? :)


 7:36 am on Oct 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

2 dstiles: they will use only one domain from that tld so there shouldn't be a problem :)


 8:26 am on Oct 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Seems ok, more choice is always a good thing. People worried about evil google, privacy, stability or longevity should simply build and host their own shortener. It's like any public service... it's public.


 10:50 pm on Oct 2, 2010 (gmt 0)

Womder if they've allowed for baddies? The current URL shorteners such as tinyurl are supposed to be able to detect bad URLs but personally I never click on such things as I'm never convinced of their security. It doesn't take much to set up a new exploit domain - there are at least hundreds per day at the moment!

Still, as I never intend to use "social" sites such as fb and twit it probably won't be a problem for me. :)

Robert Charlton

 8:22 am on Oct 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Wonder if they've allowed for baddies?

They say this on the Social Web Blog announcement...
You also know that when you click a goo.gl shortened URL, you’re protected against malware, phishing and spam using the same industry-leading technology we use in search and other products.

Google's probably got the best spam detection going.... I run several email accounts through gmail first as a spam filter.

It's not clear that they've established a strong record for malware detection, however, and I don't know whether any service could keep up with potential bait and switch mischief at the other end. How would they work in real time? This is a hesitation I have about all link shorteners. In terms of infrastructure, though, it's likely that Google can throw more at this than anyone else can.


 7:59 pm on Oct 3, 2010 (gmt 0)

Google is not that good at rejecting exploit domains in SERPS. They can't even keep their Google Code repository clean!

In July a researcher stated "Google takes the crown for malware distribution, turning up more than twice the amount of malware (69%) as Bing (12%), Twitter (1%) and Yahoo (18%). Of course, they serve a larger number of visitors so this is bound to be higher plus they would be subject to more "attacks", but I've seen reports that they fall foul of very common tricks by a small number of exploiters (eg common IP ranges, common DNS services, well-known domain registration details etc). That is very easy to fix, rather than checking domains as they turn up.

I have no doubt they are better than at least some of their competion in the short URL field but personally I would still avoid them.


 5:02 pm on Oct 4, 2010 (gmt 0)

Very interesting ;)

I started a thread about this very thing happening (as I couldn't understand why Google hadn't cottoned on to this idea yet) a few months back:-


As per the above post, for me this is far more about trust than it is about traffic.

Google wants to own DNS resolution, from where they can determine traffic flows. Shortened link traffic is, to my mind, far more valuable for different reasons.

Why? Because I always click on bit.ly etc links in tweets, despite the fact that I have no idea where that link is about to take me (I cannot see the domain to which the shortened link points).

.... implicit trust.

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