A Different Kind Of URL Shortening

You are likely aware that the web address you type in your browser is called the URL (Uniform Resource Locator). It’s a unique place on the web such as an HTML page, a CSS document, an image, etc.. The most common exception would be a web address that no longer exists or has moved.

Sometimes the URL can be very, very long such as this one:

If you are trying to send that URL to someone by copy-pasting it into an email, you might not want to send it being that long. There are shortening websites such as Bitly, Rebrandly, TinyURL, BL.INK, Zapier, Short.io, and lots more. However, you might not want to send a URL so shortened because some people are reluctant to click on a link they don’t recognize. Lots of spam emails use these shorteners. (Note: If you get such a shortened URL, you might want to see what the real URL is by using an “unshortener” such as https://unshorten.it/).

Such long URLs like the example I gave above use the last part of the URL to give information about you to the website you are going to. In the great many of these long URLs, but not all, the actual webpage URL is separated from the data part of the URL by a question mark. It separates the main part of the URL which identifies the resource from the query string. Looking at the URL example above, you will find a question mark after the “ref=sr_1_8“. If you delete the question mark and everything following the question mark, you get this greatly reduced URL:

I have occasionally seen where this method of shortening doesn’t work. If you use it, make sure you check to see if it works by clicking on the shortened URL to see if it takes you to the same webpage as the long URL.

Your feedback on this article is welcome. Please use the Comments section below to respond.

2 thoughts on “A Different Kind Of URL Shortening”

    1. Hi Scott,
      You are correct. Your further shortened URL works. My only concern with shortening it further as you did would be where do you stop? While the question mark is consistently an indicator for shortening, knowing how to further shorten would have to be trial and error.
      Thanks for commenting.

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