How does a URL shortener work?

By admin/Nov 27, 2022

How does a URL shortener work?

Even if you weren't aware of it, if you've used the internet, you've used a URL shortener. Using URL shorteners, it's simple to share site addresses. How do they operate, though?

URL shortening consists of two key components. The first includes creating a shortened URL from an original one. The second method involves converting a short URL back to its original form.

How does a URL shortener work?

A URL shortener takes an existing URL and creates a new one that is around 10 characters shorter. The shortened URL is distinctive and instantly takes users to the full address of the original URL. The generator achieves this, but how?

You start by entering a URL on the shortener's website to shorten it. The server receives the URL and validates it, looking for code injections and incorrect parameters.

The lengthier URL is kept on the server in a database. After that, it creates a special hash code and returns it as a brief URL. Any size of data can be mapped to a fixed-size output through the process of hashing. This enables a shortener to ensure that each of its short URLs is at least that long.

The shorter URL serves as a key that connects to the longer one. Your browser sends an HTTP request to the URL shortener server whenever you attempt to open a short URL.

Long URLs consume a large number of characters. It can be awkward to share them through applications, emails, and microblogging platforms like Twitter. A long URL can be shortened to make it easier to distribute. Short URLs are frequently used by advertisers in print media.

That's not all, though! You can check how well your link is functioning by using the extra tools that URL shorteners frequently offer, including usage tracking.

Steps of how URL shorteners work

Every day, digital professionals produce millions of short URL links. This tutorial demonstrates how anyone can begin utilizing URL shortener software. Learn about the technology underlying them, how to design and utilize them, and how to choose a suitable solution to promote your content successfully.

A link is automatically shortened using a URL shortener service. The abbreviated URL then points back to the original URL. Users will find the process to be fairly easy. The server management, mapping, redirection, and data storage are handled by the shortener service.

Here is a brief explanation of link shorteners' six-step process:

  1. A user requests URL shortening from an application server, service, or another centralized network resource. For instance, many servers and a load balancer may be used by high-volume services to share the workload.

  1. The service that shortens URLs accepts long URLs as input.

  1. The service applies the right type of Hyper Text Transfer Protocol (HTTP) status code for redirection after mapping the long URL to a specific short URL on the server.

  1. The storage for the mapping of URLs is kept up by the database. The database stores additional information, such as particular user IDs and expiration dates, for each entry.

  1. The server receives the abbreviated URL back.

  1. The abbreviated URL is sent by the server to the user for copying and usage.

To reroute users, URL shorteners make use of a web server feature. Visitors are forwarded to the longer original web address via a URL status code or an HTTP command. Permanent or temporary page redirection is determined by different codes.

An HTTP order to fetch and transmit the initially requested web page is sent to the web server when a URL is entered into a browser. The following are the most typical redirect status codes for abbreviated URLs:

  • A 301 HTTP redirect status code indicates that the "order" of the redirections will not change.

  • 302: A brief HTTP redirect status code that indicates the page is present but has been relocated to a different location.

  • Another temporary HTTP redirect status code, 307, is replacing 302 more frequently.

Benefits of shortening a URL

Short URLs have advantages in the display, branding, engagement, and analytics. A short URL also helps offline and online marketing, facilitates analysis, and builds brand recognition for a business.

  • Better presentation and accessibility are two benefits of shortened URLs that stand out. Instead of providing consumers with lengthy links that are difficult to read and awkwardly break, you give them short links of between 10 and 30 characters.

  • Due to their length, distinctive values, and control characters, lengthy URLs can be ugly and difficult to read. In social networking platforms like Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, more simplified URLs appear better.

  • Long URLs might cause your content to get cluttered with many different words and symbols. Additionally, when they break, it usually looks like a mistake.

  • Your readers will find it easier to click, copy, and share a shortened link in their posts, which can help your material get more natural exposure on social media.

  • Particularly when using a premium service, short URLs offer easier surveillance and analysis behind the scenes. Better SEO and increased click-through rates are further advantages.

  • Analytical data is offered by the majority of commercial URL-shortening services. Research on audience involvement is made possible by monitoring link success, and techniques are changed as necessary. A breakdown of users by demographics, such as gender or nationality, is provided by some websites. You can determine which social media platforms or postings get the most clicks.

  • Your site's PageRank is influenced by the URL structure. As an illustration, a target term in abbreviated URLs gives readers and search engines hints about the subject of your page. Metrics for links are just as crucial as those for following, commenting, or liking.

  • Shortened links on social media are popular and preferred by users, which leads to a rise in click-through rates. Shorter linkages produce outcomes nearly immediately.

  • Site navigation and expansion are significantly easier to handle when URL structures are simplified.

  • Short URLs can improve user engagement, perception, and trust in your brand. Long and complicated links, however, can come off as spammy or unprofessional.

  • Branded links may contain the name of the company or another strong word that represents what they stand for.


Now that you know how a URL shortener works, you can make your URLs look more neat and presentable with W2U by shortening them!