I first started using a URL shortener for sharing links on Twitter. Shortening a URL to leave space for the rest of a 140 character tweet was a godsend, but I realised they have other uses too (see below) so I began using them a lot.
But hang on, if Google and search engines see http://j.mp/q2p6H7 instead of the page I’m linking to, which has a very but long SEO friendly URL:
What does a short URL do to SEO?
Does my link juice go to the URL shortener?
Does Google carry the anchor text to the destination?
As I you probably know already: good SEO produces relevant website traffic, which means new clients or product sales. So these are important questions!
If we don’t want to risk messing up our website SEO, why use a URL shortener in the first place? Well there are good reasons, so even though I care a lot about SEO I do use them.
Why Use A URL Shortener?
Here are some of the reasons I use a URL shortener:
- to squeeze long URLs into small spaces like a tweet
- to keep track of clicks on things I share on Twitter & Facebook
- to be alerted when a shared URL is getting a lot of clicks
- to keep URLs from being broken up in emails (for readablity and keep them clickable)
I like the bit.ly shortener for the alert it gives when a link starts being clicked a lot. The simple statistics are really useful, showing not just total clicks on each link, but a timeline, and even which social network is producing them.
How about you? Do you have any uses I haven’t thought of? Please tell me in a comment.
Does A URL Shortener Affect SEO?
So, is a URL Shortener bad for SEO? No, provding it does a proper 301 redirect (well, that’s true for Google anyway, which means its almost certainly true for other major search engines too).
So how do you know if your URL shortener is ok? You may wish to check this out, but unless it has been set up by an amateur, or in a deliberate attempt to cream off the link reputation of its users, you will be safe. If you have any concerns, search the web for information. Don’t just rely on what the company tells you. After all, if a company is doing this for underhand reasons, they are unlikely to be honest about it.
In short, to be safe you should use a shortener from a reputable company.
You could of course set one up yourself on your own domain, but I would only do this for other reasons (such as increasing awareness of your brand).
Which URL Shortener To Use For SEO?
The safest way is to make sure you use a well established reputable service, or one you implement yourself. I use bit.ly (or rather I use j.mp which is also provided by bitly). You might also consider goo.gl (by Google), but there are lots of others who are also reliable.
How Can I Be Sure A Shortened URL Won’t Harm SEO?
You are right to be cautious because good quality SEO is vital to your web business. So don’t take my word for it, check the source yourself: here’s a short video of Matt Cutts from Google’s web search team. As you’ll see, he says that SEO is unaffected by all good URL shorteners: