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Short is hot. The simple URL shorterner utilities have gotten a lot of attention -- good and bad -- as the de facto means to share Web site addresses on services like Twitter. This week, both bit.ly, one of the most popular URL shortener services, and Google (NASDAQ: GOOG), made new releases in the area.
Unlike bit.ly, tinyURL and others, the new Google URL Shortener is not a standalone service. Rather, it's specifically designed as a feature for the Google Toolbar and Feedburner -- a content syndication service (blogs, podcasts, etc.) that Google acquired two years ago. Like bit.ly and others, Google's goo.gl service shrinks the size of long Web addresses into a few characters, making them easier to share, tweet, e-mail and link to with friends and associates.
Google explained in a blog post that the new service will let Feedburner publishers automatically send shortened links to Twitter. URL shorteners have become critical in the world of Twitter, given the 140 character limit the site imposes on each tweet.
Separately, bit.ly announced the beta release of bit.ly Pro. The idea behind the service is to let publishers and bloggers include a bit of their name for easy identification in shortened URLs that point to their sites. So, for example, a bit.ly shortened link to a New York Times article would include "nyti" in the link name.
Shortened URLs have gotten a bit of a black eye over security concerns, with scammers linking users to malicious sites. One of the criticisms of the short URLs is that the random naming mechanism doesn't give any clue about to the destination site.
Bit.ly pro aims to change that. The initial release is being used by a limited number of large and medium-sized Web sites and bloggers, including AOL, Bing, the New York Times and the Huffington Post.
Bit.ly also announced a new real-time dashboard for publishers designed to provide easy access to traffic information. "It's a real-time view of how a given publisher's content is being distributed across networks like Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace and services like e-mail, SMS and instant messenger," bit.ly said in a blog post.