Shorter URLs

August 10, 2009 —

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you I worry about obfuscated links in my tweets. I include the actual, un-shortened URL when I can and don’t worry about it much when I can’t. Query strings and stuffed permalinks will get most links auto-shortened anyway — twitter shortens anything longer than 30 characters regardless of preference.

I’d probably care more if I dropped links to my blogging into twitter. The idea of pushing masked links to my own thing just strikes me as dirty. Like self-seeding Reddit. (No offense to those of you who do that — your posts are probably more awesome than mine) Or rickrolling pals. But, without the humor.

Regardless of my personal use, though, I think it’s time we get our permalinks shorter than 30 characters. We could even keep the out-of-control keyword stuffing in place for search engine indexing and just 301 the short ones to the longer ones. In other words, this post could be and everyone on twitter would know if I was link spamming my own stuff. Google, though, would see it at and give me a sooper rank on the phrase.

We could all push whatever we wanted and not feel dirty. Our clients could link to themselves and reinforce their TLDs without loosing search traffic. Nobody would be left guessing.

It took two lines in the .htaccess file to do it here and on the EP site.

RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^p/([0-9]+)/?$ http://%{HTTP_HOST}/?p=$1 [R=301,L]

I’m sure there are WordPress plugins available to do the same thing if you hate htaccess files, but you get the general idea. Most CMS apps have rewrites in place, and there’s no reason you can’t create a second rule.

I’d love to hear if anyone has a better idea. But you don’t have to look far to see there are other reasons to get URL management figured out. Right?

UPDATE: I see now that Zeldman has a recent post on the topic. At quick glance, the plugin he’s using seems to require manual set up for each link, and that’s probably more additional effort than I’m willing to give my modest posts. Also, I realize this whole idea isn’t new idea or unique. I’m sure smarter people than me have said these things long ago. And, finally, thanks to Michael for straightening me out on the rewrite above. That was embarrassing.

3 Responses to “Shorter URLs”

  1. Deane

    I shortened Gadgetopia’s URLs a while back, down to something like this:


    But, in a larger sense, Tweets are disposable, in my mind. Tweets have an expire date of maybe 24 after posting — anytime after that, they go stale and who really cares? I don’t think Tweets preserve like blog posts, but maybe I’m just anti-Twitter.

  2. Aaron Mentele

    Yeah, but I didn’t mention linkrot. I’m talking about immediate context. My point is that link shortening services are like grab bags. Nobody knows what they’re about to get.

  3. Permanent Redirect with an Action Filter | {funky fresh}

    […] and I came across some interesting posts. I was reading Aaron Mentele’s post titled “Shorter URLs” and really enjoyed the insights. At the bottom of his post he credits Zeldman with a similar […]