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Should You Use URL Shorteners?

posted 13 Dec 2010, 13:27 by Mpelembe Admin   [ updated 13 Dec 2010, 13:28 ]

Recently, the following happened to me, I wrote my regular
weekly newsletter and posted it on my site. Since this was a
longer Wordpress URL, like millions of other webmasters, I
used a URL shortening service to make this link more usable
and manageable.

I posted this shortened URL to Twitter and placed it in my
weekly email posting... immediately I started getting emails
from my subscribers and followers... the link doesn't work,
you must have made a mistake.

Which can be easily done, but when I checked the link, I
found that the shortening service was not working properly
and giving the dreaded "Page Not Found" response. To
compound the problem, I was using the Google URL shortener
Goo.gl and since it was Google everyone assumed the mistake
was on my part. I mean Google is Google.

In the past, I had been using bit.ly but had switched to
Goo.gl, well - because it's Google. And everything works
better with Google; this was the first time something I used
with Google had not worked as planned. And it just wasn't my
links, none of the links with Goo.gl were working. No big
loss, unless you were linking your Black Friday & Cyber
Monday traffic thru these shorteners. Ouch.

But this brings up the whole question of whether or not you
should use a link shortener?

A URL link shortener works by redirecting your shorter link
to the longer one you have entered into their database. If
this is a permanent 301 redirect, then your SEO benefits
should pass through to your longer link. No harm done. But
if the shortening service uses a 302 temporary link then SEO
is not passed thru to your longer link since the search
engines only read this link as temporary.

All the top URL shorteners such as tinyurl, bit.ly and
goo.gl uses 301 redirects so they are SEO friendly, if
they're working!

From this SEO perspective, there is no reason not to use
these shortening services, besides they are great for
sharing links and getting your links out there.

I only started using those link shorteners because of
Twitter which only gives you 140 characters to make your
point. These shorteners are also good for sharing and
spreading your links around the web. However, in one way
using a URL shortener is not a smart marketing move because
you are giving up control of your link, putting it in
someone else's hands, in this case Google's.

If it goes down, or they decide not to link to your content
for some reason, you're in trouble. Same goes for bit.ly,
they are in control of your links. Maybe it doesn't count so
much if it is a general link, but if you a have an affiliate
link in there, you can't change or alter it. Or just
imagine, you have 10's, even 100's of thousands of these
shortened links spread all around the web, bringing valuable
SEO PR back to your site. Suddenly the service or company
goes under and all your links disappear from the web
overnight.

Web services and sites go bankrupt or change directions all
the time, so the above scenario is not out of the question.
If you're using and depending on these shortening services
to deliver both traffic and SEO to your site, then you
should ask yourself.

Is this really a wise move?

One of the unwritten rules of Internet Marketing, always
control your links and route them through your own domain
which you control. Especially if you place these links into
viral ebooks, articles, videos... make sure you are linking
through a URL on your site. This way you can easily alter
the link if anything changes.

By using these URL shorteners, even one run by Google, you
really are giving up control of your links. Granted, Google
and Goo.gl will probably be around for the foreseeable
future and until last week I didn't hesitate to use their
shortening service. Now I am not so sure about using their
service and question my usage of any of these shortening
services in general, despite all the great benefits they
give your online marketing.

If you do use one of these URL shorteners, make sure you
completely check out the service and its history before you
start using it. Actually, if you're going to use these
shorteners, it would probably be a good idea to use three or
four of them so that all your eggs/links won't all be in the
one basket. Better safe than sorry.

About the Author:

The author is a full time online affiliate marketer who
operates numerous niche sites, as well as two sites on
Internet Marketing, where you can get valuable marketing
tips for free: http://www.marketingtoolguide.com or try here
http://www.bizwaremagic.com/Free_Marketing_Courses.htm Titus
Hoskins. This article may be freely distributed if this
resource box stays attached.
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