Today’s SEO Monday will cover URL Shorteners: What they are, how they’re used, and how to select which one is right for you.
URL shortening is a practice on the internet where a user can transform a long URL into a very short one using one of several free services available online like TinyURL or Bit.ly.
URL shortening started as far back as 2001, but really became popular alongside the explosion of micro blog sites like Twitter, which limits users to using 140 characters or less in their posts. By shortening URLs, it frees up more space for useful content, since the URL link requires less characters.
So why is selecting the right URL shortener important in SEO? Well let’s say you make a tweet about a new product your business is offering and you use a shortened URL to link back to your site in the tweet. Shortly after posting this tweet, several of your followers find it to be interesting and retweet the post so that their followers will see it. Let’s say this continues and before you know it, 50 people have retweeted your original post and it has even appeared on other social sites like Facebook. From an exposure point of view this is great because your message is spreading around the web and reaching so many people.
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However, from an SEO standpoint, one issue to consider is whether or not this shortened URL is passing along the appropriate credit to your site that it deserves from all of these inbound links. URL shorteners use a few different methods of redirecting links to your site, but the one any site owner will want to use is a 301 redirect. Without getting into too many technical details, a 301 redirect basically tells the search engines that this shortened URL is a permanent redirect to your original URL, so it will then pass along the due credit to your site.
Some businesses may also find that tracking data provided by shortened URLs is helpful, so this should be another consideration when choosing a service. The tracking feature can provide businesses with helpful data such as which URLs are being clicked and which ones aren’t.
So now that we’ve covered what URL shorteners are and some of the features you as a business owner will want to consider, we should finally take a look at a few popular services that are available. Glancing quickly at this chart, you can see that several of these services offer both 301 redirects and tracking. Two of the more popular services that are used are bit.ly and TinyURL. If you require both 301 redirects and tracking, I would suggest opting for bit.ly, as it offers both and is one of the most widely used services today. If you already have enough data to sift through and tracking isn’t as important, either bit.ly or TinyURL will suffice.
That wraps up this week’s edition of SEO Monday and we hope you’ve found it helpful for your business. Thanks for watching and please tune in tomorrow for another dose of PPC Tuesday!