Announcing Z.ips.ME – Your Very Own URL Shortener

Background

When I started using Twitter, one of the first things that piqued my interest was URL shorteners. Not only does it make no sense why Twitter doesn’t officially have their own URL shortening service (although bit.ly is sort of official now), but it really made no sense to me why everyone used either bit.ly or tinyurl.com instead of creating their own. A URL shortener is uber simple to program and can offer you a ton of value.  So I picked up the domain “ips.me” with the intent of using it as my own URL shortener.

Then I realized that this simple script could be valuable to a lot of people and a lot of businesses.   After some thought, I decided to turn this into an open source project and release it for everyone to use.  Yesterday I finally got around to putting the site up at http://z.ips.me.  Although the first version isn’t available for download yet, I’ve begun testing it on my Twitter account.

Benefits

The benefits of my own URL shortener are pretty obvious to me:

  • I can name the URL whatever I want.  I can get http://z.ips.me/Adam to point to this blog instead of http://tinyurl.com/den93j
  • I control how long the redirect is in place.  If I want to change it or remove it, I can.  Or I can leave it up forever.
  • I control whether it’s a permanent 301 redirect (search engine friendly) or a temporary 302 redirect.
  • I get the data and they don’t.  I know when someone clicked a link, what site they clicked it on, what browser they’re using, and more.  I can aggregate all of this data and use it to my advantage.
  • I’m branding MY site and not another third party.  If someone says “hey what’s z.ips.me” and visits it, I get the traffic.

Who Will Use it?

Personally, I think every business that’s on Twitter should be using their own URL shortener.  If their domain is too long, they can spend $10/year and buy a new one like I did.

The perfect example is a company like Dell.  On their Twitter page they use a combination of ow.ly and bit.ly.  They recently reported that they’ve generated over $3 million in revenue from their links on Twitter.  Imagine if those links came from t.dell.com.  They’d have all the data.  They’d control where a link goes when a sale ends.  They’d brand their own domain.

I also think that web marketing companies and SEO companies would all love to have this kind of control for their clients.

Feedback!!!

Right now the site currently says that we’re in a private Beta. You can sign up to receive an email once the service is available for download. My question to you is – how useful do you think this service is?  For site owners?  Businesses?  Web marketers/SEOs? I’m debating how long I should test it before developing it to the point that it can be released it to the public (there needs to be an install script and a better admin interface, along with instructions).

In terms of monetization, there is some revenue potential in domain/hosting referral commissions, and also the potential to charge for installs, but most likely this is more along the lines of Music-Alerts – a fun project that doesn’t really make any money.

17 comments on Announcing Z.ips.ME – Your Very Own URL Shortener

  1. Nev says:

    I’m continuously amazed at your awesomeness.

  2. Adam McFarland says:

    I’m continuously amazed at YOUR awesomeness Nev

  3. Adam Gilbert says:

    Adam – This is brilliant. I think there is a lot of potential for this!

  4. nethy says:

    Adam,
    This definitely makes sense. I also wonder why twitter or twitter clients don’t have an official URL shortening service.

    But, don’t any open source scripts for this exist yet?

    BTW, how open side projects are you at the moment? This might be e reasonable idea for a web service. Not another free & easy URL shortening service. There are plenty of those.

    Maybe a web app where clients can apply their own domain name, (or you give them a subdomain), they control the URL, they control the link. The app delivers stats to them, auto inserts Google analytics tags & whatever else a twittering business might want. My thinking is that if businesses have a need for this, they may also may for a easy web app version.

    I’m not sure how much potential this has. I know nothing about web apps. It seems problematically easy to copy. But it does also sound reasonably bite sized.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Great observations. I’m not sure about whether or not there is anything else out there. I thought there would be, but I didn’t really find much of anything out there when I searched. Plus I kind of don’t care. It’s not like I’m trying to build a business out of it. It’ll be a simple script that works. If other people build upon it or release better versions, than so be it. Like you said, it’s “problematically easy to copy” which is why I don’t give it much consideration as a hosted web service. If you were trying to build this as a business, you’d definitely go that way, although my thought is you’d get crushed by someone with more man power pretty quickly. My partners and I talked about it, but I really just wanted it to be a small side project. I didn’t want to worry about the technical issues with scaling a site that redirects thousands upon thousands of links.

      • nethy says:

        You’re right of course.

        Anyway, like I think you’ve said before: The web app /web services world is bloated. Lots of apps. Not so many paying users.

  5. Dale says:

    Adam, so as someone who’s less knowledgeable on this kind of stuff… is the idea you can get a url that’s shorter by adding a different thing to the end than .com or .net or what not?

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Good question Dale. URL shortening really only has one purpose in my opinion – Twitter. You’re limited to 140 characters so you want your URLs as small as possible.

  6. Ted says:

    With your programming knowledge, this is a great idea. I used to run a similar service with a simple open source script.

    But beware, In my naivety I let it to run itself and it was abused by spammers, and blacklisted and irrelevant.

    If I was to do this again I would take the time to code it from scratch with some inbuilt safeguards.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Thanks for the insight Ted. I may drop you an email to pick your brain a bit prior to releasing it to the world.

  7. nethy says:

    Adam,

    I’m making a request for your next app: Something powered by the Mechanical Turk.

    I just think it’d be a great place for creativity.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hmm. That’s a pretty interesting idea. Never really explored ways to use the Mechanical Turk for a web app…I’ll add it to my list!

  8. […] After URL shortening service tr.im closed and then re-opened this week due to the public backlash, I thought it would be a good time to release Z.ips.ME, the URL shortener for PHP & MySQL that I started working on a few months back. […]

  9. Kevin says:

    cool.. this is nice idea to have own url shortner.. why to depend on other services…

  10. Sojib says:

    URL shortner in apache webserver works fine. but in nginx do not working.404 or 500 error.

    • Adam McFarland says:

      Hi Sojib,

      Thanks for trying out Z.ips.ME! I haven’t updated it in several years, although I am hoping to get to a small update soon. My guess as to why it’s not working with nginx is that it relies on the .htaccess file adjustments that are written for Apache. I’ll try to do some testing when I update it and then update the site accordingly.

      – Adam

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