How to Create and Use Shortlinks in WordPress

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Using shortlinks is very important. In many places, especially on social media sites, you are constrained by the number of characters available for your post or tweet. If you use most of that character space for a link, then you have that much less space for typing up your message. So shortlinks enable you to make better use of the finite digital space available in many online places.

There are many ways to use shortlinks on a WordPress blog. Let me describe the most important ones and recommend you my favorite one.

Using Your Own Shortlinks

If you already own a relatively short domain name, this is the easiest way.

I own both structureofsuccess.com and stosu.com. If you want to access a post or page on my site, both domains can do the job.

Example:
www.structureofsuccess.com/how-to-play-very-old-games-on-current-windows-computers/
structureofsuccess.com/how-to-play-very-old-games-on-current-windows-computers/
www.stosu.com/how-to-play-very-old-games-on-current-windows-computers/
stosu.com/how-to-play-very-old-games-on-current-windows-computers/

All of the above links will land you at the same post.

However, all of these links are still quite long character-wise. The longest one is 83 characters long. But even the last and shortest one has 66 characters.

Thankfully, every post and page in WordPress is given an identification number called a post ID.

This ID is visible in many places. Go to WordPress Dashboard > Posts and hover your mouse over the title of any of your posts. A list of tools shows up below the post’s title: Edit | Quick Edit | Trash | View. Also, at the bottom of your browser a link is revealed.

In the case of the post I mentioned above, the revealed link is:

It means that the post ID in this case is 1413.

You can find out the ID for a page the same way as described above, but instead of Posts you go to WordPress Dashboard > Pages.

You can also reveal a post or page ID by querying it via this single line of PHP code:

Now, to make use of the ID number, use the following link format:

As you can see we went from 66-83 characters to only 17, saving almost 75-80% of character space.

Using WordPress-Generated Shortlinks

To use this feature, you have to have WordPress Jetpack installed.

Go to WordPress Dashboard > Posts and click on the title of a post.

When in the Edit Post window, click on the Get Shortlink button.

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Get Shortlink

A new pop-up window will appear showing the WordPress-generated shortlink for the post.

In the case of the above mentioned post, it is:

This shortlink is 2 characters shorter than my own.

Using Third Party Plugins

You can also use URL shortening plugins other than Jetpack. One of the most well-known ones is WP-Bitly. The achieved effect is the same as with Jetpack.

To use your own domain name in the shortened URL instead of a third party domain name such as wp.me or bit.ly, you can use the Short URL plugin.

The only difference in the resulting short URL will be that it won’t read stosu.com/?p=1413 but stosu.com/aBc1D, for example. The last link is fictitious and I used it only as an explanatory example.

Conclusion

In my opinion, using the first option mentioned in this post is the best way to use shortlinks. Why?

First of all, you don’t rely on other people and have your data and links under total control.

Second, you generate traffic only for yourself and not for other parties.

Third, you have a shortlink available for use even before you publish your post.

To see it, simply click on the Preview button located in the upper-right corner of your Add New Post or Add New Page window.

The URL in the preview’s address bar will reveal the ID of your unpublished post or page. In the case of the post mentioned multiple times above, the link is:

Fourth and most important, when a third-party site goes under (it happens), it is quite possible that all shortlinks generated by its services will not be functioning at all. This can reduce your traffic in case you relied heavily on that third-party service.

If you don’t own a short domain name, you can buy one and use it the same way as I use stosu.com instead of structureofsuccess.com.

With some domain registrars, it is possible to redirect your domain names in such a manner that the short domain name will act the same way as the long domain name. In other words, the domain names can be fully interchangeable.

I will write up a post about how to do this very soon.

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