If I’m using a URL shorteners to link my blog/site to social media, will it ruin my quest to rank higher and gain traffic? Well, this is a very common question in discussion forums today. We researched on it and here’s a compilation of our interesting findings. Have a read.
First off, URL shorteners do not negate your SEO. In one of his recent videos, Google’s SEO man, Matt Cutts (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QMkltd6dZzU), says “URL shorteners have absolutely no negative effect on SEO provided the shortener in question is working as expected and it uses 301 permanent re-direct.” He further emphasizes that Google treats any link to that re-direct as being a link to the destination for the sake of pagerank. In a nutshell, if you’re using shortened URLs, you’re at an advantage as you’re likely to receive a promotion bump from your activities on social media.
This bunch of good news comes at a time when the use of the likes of goo.gl, j.mp and bit.ly is at its peak. The bulk of this prominence is associated with the exponential rise of the social web, most particularly the likes of Twitter and Facebook. However, please note that most core pages on online social platforms have NoFollow tags on any outward bound links.
Can URL shorteners help change NoFollow tags?
The answer is YES. Basically, the NoFollow rule was introduced to prevent abuse of links. This was meant to stop cases of artificial inflation of authority. The good news with using URL shorteners is that they can actually help you to avoid this barrier. While most search engines treat NoFollow links with no value, shortened URLs are apparently the favored lot. This pretty much means that shortened links are followed back by search engines and some value does trickle down to the target site.
So if you’re yet to start using them, it is high time you make this links a part of your social media marketing campaigns.
What URL shorteners are best to use?
Not all URL shorteners are equal and this pretty much means that you need to stick to a few specific ones. This is so you can realize the full benefits of this apparently new window of opportunities.
Google have their own shortener which is designed for Firefox and Google Chrome. Chrome, on its part, comes with a shortener cum expander that you can use to either enlarge or shorten your URL’s.
How To Choose The Right URL Shortener
So how do you make your tweets or Facebook posts count as mini-links? The first step is to ensure that you choice of shortener is trusted by Google. Matt Cutt is very clear on this matter (in the video) when he says “most well behaved shortners do pass the page rank test”. Proper shorteners are treated just like that and will pass link juice. So if you want your social media efforts to count, the writing is very clear on the wall – go for nothing short of well-behaved shorteners. But what are these?
Good shorteners include the likes of: Goo.gl, Bit.ly and TinyURL. The likes of Tweetburner, Ht.ly and Fon.gs are not as good as they do not pass link juice.
The one crucial factor to consider while using shortened links is to avoid multiple re-directs as this is not only slow and annoying to the user but Google stops after following the first redirect. Therefore, make sure to avoid shortened links that send your visitors to a site that forwards them to another.
What is the future of URL shorteners?
A sneak peek to the future is that URL shorteners are beginning to become a tool for abuse by marketers looking to avoid the NoFollow barrier. And while this is yet to become a major issue, shortened URLs remain the single most effective way to tap your social media power for a favorable ranking.
As we sum it up, it is important to keep in mind that shortened URL’s are meant to share between friends and circles, as referral links and nothing beyond. Using them for some other weird reasons amounts to abuse and Google may sooner than later catch up with you. Remember, at the end of the day everything boils down to quality.
Cally Greene is Team Member for Nevada Law Firms. He likes blogging relating to online strategies that are related to SEO, Content, PPC & Lead generation.