Picture this. You’re talking with someone – maybe it’s just chit-chat, maybe it’s an interview – and you want to share a link with them. You’re immediately faced with a few complications.
- Is the link pronounceable?
- Is the link rememberable?
- Is the link confusing?
- Do you remember the link?
- Does the link exist?
What if there was a way to share easy-to-say, easy-to-remember links?
What is Shortlinks?
Shortlinks is a free WordPress plugin that creates redirects for specific URLs. And it tracks their usage.
In other words, when someone follows a URL (whether it’s a link they click or type in), they get sent to a different URL.
Use cases for Shortlinks
I’m going to use an interview as the context for these use cases. That is the worst possible situation for sharing links.
Case 1: Confusing URLs
Have you seen my social media accounts? Every one of them has a different name. There’s a “_JoshRobbs”, a “joshuarobbs”, a “josh.robbs”, and a “joshwrobbs”. I can’t keep my own accounts straight. How could someone else?
Shortlinks to the rescue!
When I want to share my social media accounts, they’re all the same: my main domain followed by the platform.
- Twitter: joshrobbs.com/twitter
- Instagram: joshrobbs.com/instagram
- LinkedIn: joshrobbs.com/linkedin
- Pinterest: joshrobbs.com/pinterest
That’s easy to remember and share.
Case 2: You don’t know the URL
Sue, the interviewer, asks you a question and you have the perfect resource. But you can’t remember it!
Would you rather say, “I’m sorry, Sue. There’s a great resource for that. I’ll email you the link.” or “Sue, I have a great resource for that. You can find it at www.yourwebsite.com/Sue.”
Of course, you prefer the second solution. (The first isn’t bad, but it isn’t nearly as powerful.) All you have to do is remember to create the link in Shortlinks.
Case 3: The URL doesn’t exist
This is a less common situation. I only run into it when I want to share a specific section of a YouTube video. Creating a Shortlink for it makes it easy to share. Plus, I won’t have to hunt for the exact spot in the video. Find it once, create the link, done.
Case 4: What links are actually getting clicked?
In Case 1, I showed you the links to my social media accounts. But the social media links in the sidebar are a little different.
What’s the difference? There’s an extra “/s”. The Twitter link went from “joshrobbs.com/twitter” to “joshrobbs.com/s/twitter”.
Why create the variation? So that I can track clicks. When I re-add the links in the footer, I’ll use yet another variation.
What I like about Shortlinks
There are other redirection plugins available. For example, I often use Redirection if I need to use fancy RegEx and formulas to create bulk redirects. I still use Shortlinks for these kinds of redirects.
Why? The user interface is super simple. And that’s an incredibly important factor if I’m working on a client site. This is something a nontechnical person can use.
There’s not much else to say. This free plugin solves a lot of problems with a very clean interface. Not extra, confusing or even scary options.
What I don’t like about Shortlinks
Shortlinks just had a big update. One of the changes is that categories are now a premium feature. If you make a lot of links, your interface is going to become a mess. I probably wouldn’t have mentioned it except that I’m used to it being in the free version.
This is more of a wish than a complaint. But I wish that you could duplicate existing links so that you could quickly create variations of existing links.