Q: Why are you doing this?
A: Google needed a url shortener for its own products where we knew the shortener wouldn’t go away. We also wanted a shortener that we knew would do things the right way (e.g. 301/permanent redirects), and that would be fast, stable, and secure.
Q: Why open it up to the public?
A: Initially we launched it only for Google to use on things like the Google Toolbar and FeedBurner. It only took about week before someone dug into the toolbar to see how the shortening code worked. One popular Chrome extension showed up within a few days and now has almost 70,000 installs. Clearly, a lot of people wanted to use goo.gl themselves.
Q: Fair enough. Any cool new features?
A: The main feature is that you can use goo.gl just by going to the web page. But if you go to http://goo.gl and login with your Google account, you’ll get analytics and history features for the urls you’ve shortened. Here’s what the analytics page looks like for a recent link I tweeted, for example:
Q: Is goo.gl an “X killer”?
A: No, goo.gl isn’t an effort to kill anything. I think the whole “product X will kill product Y” meme is getting a little threadbare. We needed a url shortener for Google itself. And then lots of people asked for this, so we’re opening our own url shortener to the world. Different url shorteners have different philosophies; I view the goo.gl philosophy as running a tight, fast service without piling on a ton of features.
My favorite Chrome extension to shorten urls is right here, but see the official blog post for other good extensions that use goo.gl. Danny Sullivan is also writing a screenshot-by-screenshot article over on Search Engine Land.
I hope you like the service. I’m biased, because I know the people that work on it, but why not give it a try yourself?