Should We Use URL Shorteners?

It is commonly asked whether we should use link shortener and whether they have any impact on our SEO efforts. URL shorteners make our links look shorter and it is redirected to our actual URL. However, we should be aware that URL shorteners could harm our SEO efforts if we are not careful. SEO juice should passes through to our original link, if we use permanent 301 redirect. There should be no harm done when we do this. However, we should know that 302 redirect would do the opposite. It is a temporary redirect, so search engines won’t see this as a permanent pathway to our original URL.

When using URL shortening services, we should make sure that they use 301 permanent redirects. Common services like goo.gl, bit.ly and tinyurl use 301 redirect, so they should be SEO friendly. During link building efforts, it can be rather untidy to use very long URL, especially the one with dynamically generated symbols and numbers. Alternatively, we should use an URL format that is based on the title of the content.

So, instead of having dynamically generated URL, our URL is based on the title of our content. Our URL can be shortened if we use shorter title that includes all necessary keywords. If we do this, it is possible that we don’t really need URL shortening service. If we do choose an URL shortening service, we should make sure that it will produce very short URL that allows us to write short messages as well as using the shortened URL in Twitter. It is true that memorizing shortened URL is still a rather difficult thing to do, but it would be much easier for people to copy and paste it.

It is also important to know that by using URL shortening service, we have relying on an external service. They are in control of our links. After a few years, we may have used thousands of shortened URLs and if the service is closed down due to specific reasons, our SEO campaign will grind to a halt. The benefits that we get from these URLs will be terminated and we may immediately see sudden drops in traffic and search engine ranking.

It is a basic rule in any activity that we should be in total control of everything. It is much better if we are able to directly use our original URL. Content management systems allow us to choose between different URL formats. It is important to choose the simplest one. The best URL should only contain website domain name and the webpage name. Date numbers are often included in URL, but in many cases, they are not really necessary.

The best way is to use URL shortener only in specific situations. Shortened URL can be used for Twitter, but in other places, including Facebook; we could use our original URL. We should rely on ourselves, instead of others’ services. It’s better safe than sorry.

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