Google product news: Search engine "" URL shortcut

Google is to roll out a new URL shortcut that will link exclusively to its own websites, products and services.

Shortened URLs are neater and easier on the eye than a traditional web address, but they can make it difficult for users to see where they will be redirected. As a result, users run the risk of being exposed to harmful or inappropriate content.

The new "" shortcuts can only be created by the search engine giant and will link directly to Google webpages, products and services. Google's vice president of consumer marketing Gary Briggs said it would allow web users to click with confidence.

Mr Briggs confirmed the new address would not affect Google's "" public URL shortener. He said Google was as keen on the public tool as its users and that nothing would change.

The search engine's move comes amid a scrabble for ultra-short URLS - Twitter has picked up "" and Amazon now owns "".

The shorter domains are being sold by Colombian company .CO Internet, which won a contract to operate on behalf of the country's government in 2009.

.CO Internet's vice president Lo

ri Anne Wardi said the rise of Twitter, which restricts users to 140-character posts, has put a high value on three character domains. Google has joined an exclusive neighbourhood which is becoming more valuable all the time, she added.

Google's purchase of is just another example of how the web is increasingly being reshaped by the explosion in social media and networking.