The quick and simple guide to go links

Think of all the time you’ve spent trying to remember where to find a particular document you need for your job. Maybe it's a project plan, or your team's travel booking process. Half the time, you finally find you weren’t even looking in the right tool: Is that page in Google Docs, or Dropbox Paper? Or was it Notion? Coda? 15 minutes later, after interrupting your friend’s work—or worse, your boss—you find it: It’s in Confluence?! We’re still using Confluence? What the f*%^.

There’s got to be a better way to keep track of all the links you use to do your work.

Good news, there is and it’s called go links. Go links take the all-too-familiar-situation above and simplify it into remembering one link: go/new-analytics. Boom. go/travel. Wabam. You don’t need to remember which tool you use—all you need to know is that you want to book travel. Type that beautifully simple phrase into your web browser and let the link fairies (aka the brilliant co-workers who installed Trotto for your organization) take you to where you need to go.

Here’s other scenarios for when go links come in handy:

  • Let’s say your school has a few e-learning platforms, where can you find training for your foreign language? Easy: go/language-practice and you’re knee deep in verb tenses.
  • Your company has multiple tools for managing HR benefits, which one has information about maternity leave? Simple: go/maternity-leave and you’re family planning.

Using go links makes navigating the often deeply frustrating world of internal links and tools as simple as remembering a few intuitive words.

What is a go/ link, technically?

Go links, variously written as "go links", "go/ links”, "go/links”, and "golinks", are a type of URL shortening system that are set up and controlled by an organization, such as a school or a company. Go links are widely used at companies like Google, Netflix, and Stripe because they simplify long, messy URLs into short, clean links any human can easily remember and thus make it much, much more efficient and much, much less frustrating to find important information quickly.

For example, you could create a go link to turn the link for your team’s weekly meeting agenda from an ugly URL like this:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwzya-blahblahblah

Into this:

go/weeklymeeting

Go links are typically private to the organization, meaning that members of the organization—company, school, etc—need to sign in or be on a secure network in order to use their organization’s go links.

What’s the difference between bit.ly and go links?

Go links are often confused with the links created using URL shortening services like Bitly, but they are used for different reasons. Both bit.ly links and go links are ways to shorten long, complicated links but bit.ly is used mainly for public links and go/ links are used for internal private links. Bit.ly is used to simplify links to public URLs you send externally to your customers or audience, whereas go/ links are used to simplify private links internal and only accessible within a company or organization.

A typical use case for Bitly (or other link shorteners) is to make long links look nicer on social media posts, marketing emails, flyers, printed marketing material or anything you’re sending to a public audience. Public link shorteners like bit.ly will often generate a random alphanumeric sequence to shorten the URL.

Go links are used to streamline information privately within an organization, and you need to be logged into the organization’s private systems to use them. They usually have names that people will easily remember such as:

  • go/handbook to quickly find the employee onboarding handbook within a company
  • go/lunch to quickly access that day’s lunch menu on a University network

How do you use go links?

Once you have go/ links set up within your organization (we’ll cover that in the next section), using them is just a matter of signing into your team’s go links system and typing the link into your Internet browser’s address bar.

Typically, anyone in an organization can set up a go link for any URL they want, and any go link they create can instantly be used by their entire team. So, you could simplify your organization’s links to the point where:

  • go/eng-meeting → links to the Engineering team’s meeting agenda in Google Drive
  • go/board → links to your project management board in Jira
  • go/calendar → links to the school’s year calendar on the University website
  • go/english-105 → links to the course syllabus for English 105 at the University
  • go/healthcare → links to the employee healthcare benefits portal on an HR website

Why use go links?

More than a productivity tool, go links are a simplicity tool to make finding and sharing information within your organization as simple as remembering a word or two. When your organization uses go links, people can spend less time searching for information and more time using it. They no longer have to remember the name of the website/platform/tool they want to access, or the location of the link, or come up with keywords to search for it.

How do I create and set up go links?

Assuming you are going to sign up with a go link provider, here’s some things to keep in mind when creating and setting up your go links. First of all, there are a number of different go link providers out there and well, no shame, we recommend Trotto, which happens to be the website you’re reading right now :) To set up go links with Trotto at your organization, or even for your personal use, head over to https://www.trot.to/getting-started.

Once you or someone in your organization has signed up, you can go wild creating shortcuts to all of your frequently used links. You can choose to have an administrator create new links or make it self serve so anyone can create their own. Make sure you keep a list of all the go links within your organization. Some go links solutions, like Trotto, provide a go links directory for you.

Yes and no. Not all go link solutions are free. Trotto is free if you have 10 or fewer people in your organization.

A key difference between Trotto and other go link providers is that Trotto is open-source. This means you can build new features for the Trotto app or browser extensions, and you aren’t locked into the solution. You can also manage your own instance of Trotto, or roll out go links on your team using your own instance and later switch to the fully-managed solution.

More go link implementations include:

  • Trotto
  • GoLinks.io
  • Goatcodes.com
  • https://github.com/kellegous/go

How does my business/organization implement go links?

Businesses can implement go links in a variety of ways, including:

  • Browser extensions
  • Internal DNS
  • Search domains
  • Hosts files

You can learn about each of these options in Trotto's go links documentation.

What’s the history of go links?

As far as we can tell, go links were first used at Google starting in 2006, and in 2008 Google provided its go links service as a tool available to the public, the Google Short Links app. While the Google Short Links app is no longer available, many ex-Googlers (also known as Xooglers) around the world have been implementing homegrown go links tools at their new companies because they are so useful!

In 2014, the founder of Trotto and former Googler, Jon Gaulding was working at Optimizely. Anticipating that the problem of finding and sharing the right docs and tools would only get worse—and with some prodding from other Xooglers—he decided to set up a go links app for the company. To the entire company’s delight, people no longer had to spin their wheels sifting through the myriad docs and apps to find information.

Realizing how helpful go links are and how much of a no brainer it is to have them at any growing company, Jon decided to build Trotto.

Ready to get started?

Create an account now

Try in 30 seconds!