Originally the VCU Keywords service was designed specifically with user-defined keywords in mind, so that for instance go.vcu.edu/biology would redirect to the Department of Biology’s homepage. This feature is useful for both print and email marketing campaigns because it gives a shorter, easier to remember URL for website addresses that may otherwise be long and difficult to remember.
Nowadays, people are sharing links through Twitter and Facebook with even more frequency. These services limit the number of characters per post so that each letter counts. In this case, even a go.vcu.edu/keyword can be longer than is desirable. So we’ve added in the option (by default) of creating a shortened URL in the form of go.vcu.edu/_xxx (where xxx is a random three-character string composed of 0-9, a-z, or A-Z). These shortened URLs are temporary by default, lasting only 2 months without any visits. (They will persist as long as they are receiving visits. After two months with no visits, they will expire.) But you can choose to create them permanently when you request them or later through the administration system. (You will also be notified by email when a keyword is going to expire soon, at which point you can make it permanent.)
It is our hope that using go.vcu.edu for shortened URLs will provide a better degree of trustworthiness for links. To that end, there is a basic approval process for shortened URLs. By default, all links to vcu.edu domains will be automatically approved. Links to outside sites will be moderated to ensure they do not link to malicious or inappropriate websites. (Turn around time for approval is 1-2 business days.) As a result, we believe that users will be more willing to click on go.vcu.edu links than they might on a similarly shortened link from elsewhere. (All non-random keywords require approval to ensure the keyword is appropriate to the content, so that for instance, go.vcu.edu/biology doesn’t link to the School of Education.)
As an aside related to trustworthiness of links, we also verify that links exist when they are requested, and we check on a daily basis to make sure that keywords continue to link to existing content. If your keyword links to a page that gets deleted or moved, you may be notified by email requesting that the keyword be updated or deleted.
We hope you find the new feature useful!