Sunday, 17 May 2009

Run an internal URL hashing/redirect service with Google Short Links

Google Labs recently made the Google Short Links application available to the Google Apps platform. Short Links is a promising little feature that enriches the Apps system by allowing you to shortcut and/or hash URLs and serve those redirects directly from your Google Apps domain. As a useless example, checkout ;-)

Like most things with Google Apps when you’re running your own domain name, setting up is simply a matter of picking one or more hostnames and a creating a corresponding CNAME entry in your DNS server (see my post on how to get setup—it’s easy, I promise!). The choice of hostname is arbitrary; in my case I chose and If you do add multiple hostnames note you still only have a single collection of short links. My line of thinking is to use for public-facing redirection and for private use.

In addition to creating short, hashed URLs for use in Twitter and other space-constrained applications (print articles/ads/etc), you can also create friendly URLs that may be easier for your visitors to remember. As an example, will redirect you to my Blogger profile. Short Links handles both internal and external links (links pointing to pages on your own domain and pages on external domains).

Link administration is simple through the UI: as you might expect, all you have to do is specify the short link and paste in the target URL; alternatively, just pop in the target URL and Google will generate a new hash. You can also make individual short links public or keep them private—presumably for use only by your logged on users. Obviously you need to be careful about deleting a link once it’s been created and published as redirection will be removed for that link and your users won’t end up where they expect—a nice enhancement would include the ability to configure a default short link for cases like this.

Google being Google you can of course search your short links and viewing the list of short links you’ve configured will specify a usage count for each link—providing some rough analytics.

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