Google gave its URL shortening service goo.gl a standalone site on Thursday, allowing users to input and shorten links.
The service allows users to take any link and transform it into a shorter goo.gl URL. Like the majority of Google's services, the shortener will give users additional functionality if they sign-in with a Google account, such as a history of their shortened URLs along with analytics to allow them to track traffic.
The shortening service was originally announced in 2009 and plugged into Google's browser toolbar and its Feedburner RSS service. Subsequently, the service was rolled out to other Google products including News, Blogger, Maps, Picasa Web Albums and Moderator.
The service will compete with other URL shortening services, such as Bit.ly and Twitter's just-announced t.co.
Applications for the shortened links include transmission across microblogging services such as Twitter, which has a 140-character posting limit and encourages brevity. Also, by virtue of owning the system which transforms the links into shortened ones, Google will gain information about which links the consumer wants to make shorter.
The BBC and bit.ly have worked together on a BBC-specific URL shortening service. A BBC spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Friday that part of the impetus for the service was "to get useful stuff on the use and re-use of [BBC] URLs and the URLs that are being shortened", along with giving linkers "a way of signposting that the links are from the BBC".
The Google service incorporates automatic spam detection, so that those who click a goo.gl URL know they are "protected against malware, phishing and spam".