Long URLs

Long URLs

Nobody likes an oversized URL. Your visitors might click on this URL but they'll never type it, they won't remember it, and they're not likely to share it with their friends:


Your best option here would be to use the Permalink fields on these sections and pages to shorten the URL into something memorable. You might end up with "chssweb2.gmu.edu/too-many/words" for instance.

But sometimes you can't avoid a long URL. Maybe you're sending people deep into your site or maybe you want to use Google Analytics campaigns to track separately how many people responded to your poster, your flier and your scratch-and-sniff handouts:


If you have a long URL and you cannot adequately shorten it by using the permalink field, you have two options. Both have their benefits and drawbacks:

Use A URL Shortener

There are many services which will allow you to enter a URL and receive a much-shortened URL that will redirect to your original address. This is generally the best approach to take.

Commercial shorteners like bit.ly return a URL on their domain which, when followed, takes the user to your URL. The benefit is that folks recognize the more prominent shorteners; they are used to clicking on them and being redirected. However, when you use one of these products you are no longer using a Mason URL.

CHSSWeb also provides a URL shortener which generates short URLs using the domain "to.gmu.edu". For instance, to.gmu.edu/too-long.

Use A Redirect Page

Although we generally suggest you use a URL shortener, at times it may make sense to use CHSSWeb's redirect pages as URL shorteners. To do this, create a page at the root level of your site and set that page up as a redirect. Distribute the URL for the redirect page. Traffic that goes to that URL will be redirected to the destination you choose.

The appeal to this approach is that users will see your URL and not "bit.ly" or "to.gmu.edu". However, this approach can be hard to manage long-term, since you are creating pages in your system that must exist in perpetuity, cluttering up your page list long after you have forgotten why you added them.