TinyURL is one of the oldest, most visible and popular on Social-Media websites (Orkut, Facebook, Twitter, Identica, etc.) url shortener around. So first of all what are URL Shorteners and why do we need them? Are they really useful from the SEO and web traffic point of view and what are the adverse effects of using a URL shortener to publish links on social media and other such websites on internet.
All the url shortener services are not alike and some of them are less worthy from the search engine optimization point of view. They are all useful without any doubt on micro blogging websites like Twitter and Identi.ca where you are limited to 140 characters and this shorteners can help you extensively than. Now what about SEO? Links are connectivity of the internet and from a link you can have an idea about the content. What do you get about the content of a link from this: http://bit.ly/djlSqY ?? Can you have any idea that it would be about Writing Charismatic Blog Titles for SEO ?? No. But this original URL says a lot about its content: https://seosurf.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/charismatic-blog-titles-for-seo/ So what are the workarounds here?
Shortening urls thing become more popular after the rise of micro blogging services like Twitter and thousands of new sites providing the url shortening services chipped in. There are few who left this bandwagon now and very few survived. but Do we really need URL Shortener Services? and how do they survive in fiercely competitive niche market and ever changing internet. You will get it very soon why do we need them and how good they can be for SEO.
Why Do we need URL Shortener Services?
Now have a look at this url and say what do you understand from just having a look at the url:
Almost nothing. And it is long as hell even to email or blog or add to some micro blogging service or social media website. Now you can shorten this url and can make it more SEO friendly using some url shortener service. But how? See it working here: http://vadodara-map.notlong.com Now this url shortener provides url as subdomain with customized words you can use so that it makes more sense to your readers who get the idea that it is a Map of Vadodara and not some junk.
It also help your content discovered by services like twitter, facebook and idenca. There are few other advantages like not revealing your actual url with no follow tag to some ‘gray zone’ websites who may comment spam your articles and only genuinely interested readers and visitors visit your blog and not spam bots.
What about SEO?
Now old seo wise guys says that to get the most link juice you should use more and more keywords whenever possible to your incoming link traffic. Few url shortener services doesn’t pro vide any custom words and the whole purpose of optimizing search engine for web-traffic and getting better page rank is defeated. What to do than? There are various services that provide custom urls where you can use your own keywords and phrases as part of the shortened url. One such service is http://www.snurl.com/ This service provides features like Custom Nickname which you can use to put your keywords like I have done here: http://snurl.com/seo-category You may also give the title to get the most link juice out of it. You can have the advantage of both Anchor Text and Alternative Title Text here.
301 Redirects and url shorteners
If you want to get the most out of this you need to use url shorteners that uses 301 redirect to drive visitors to your blog from shortener service. Why it is so important? According to Search Engine Guru Dan Sullivan as described on his blog post URL Shorteners: Which Service Should you Use :
A 301 redirect says that the URL requested (the short URL) has “permanently” moved to the long address. Since it’s a permanent redirect, search engines finding links to the short URLs will credit all those links to the long URL
Most url shorteners redirect that way using 301 permanent redirects that tells the search engine that it is moved permanently but not all of them do it that way. There are few exceptions and bad providers that don’t do that and you should select your url shortener service very carefully.
Size Does Matter, Small IS.GD
Is.gd is a great service for those who use mobile phones to send tweets to their twitter accounts. It uses only 18 characters and is better than TinyURL (if not the best) which uses 25 characters to shorten urls. There are services like goo.gl started by Google which also gives relatively fair size of output urls.
Bit.ly, tr.im, ju.mp and lot of others out there and sometimes you may get confused that which of them are going to stay and which may vanish. Which one I should use and which one I should avoid? Here is one very useful article about Which Url Shortener Service I should use. There is lot of information about url shortening services and features are compared and in-depth analysis is provided to select the best url shortener service that fits your needs the most.
Tracking and Stability
Your google analytics account may provide you information about the traffic that is coming from Twitter or Identica but if you want to drill down a bit more and do the in-depth analysis of your traffic (especially it is very important on high traffic sites) you need to use url shortener service with the tracking and statistics ability. It makes more sense if you use a service that provides tracking of your urls and if it is free it is better.
It is very annoying that you receive a tweet on twitter or a notice on Identica that your link is not working from your friends because the service is down. So stability is one very important factor and as now as search engines are changing their algorithms and improving them to work well with micro-blogging services and url shorteners you should select your service very carefully. Few of them are really backed by big companies and are going to stay there for long.