Does URL Shortening Hurt your SEO effort?


Does URL Shortening Hurt your SEO effort?

Anil Kumar T We have witnessed the shot in popularity of social media between all age groups in recent years. And it is evident that even Google has gone social!
For Instance Look at its list of Acquisitions:

Video Sharing: YouTube • Social Networking: Orkut • Blogging : • Image Sharing: Picasa • Wiki: Knol • Social Search: Aardvark

Also we can consider Google Buzz which acts as a social network inside Gmail and Google Wave.

Google has already implemented “real time search” on its search engine where twitter feeds appear on the search results. By this, it is apparent that social media content should be optimized just as any other online content. Google is using twitter and facebook links as ranking symbols!

Let us consider url shortening service widely used on twitter which limits its content to 140 characters and in facebook status updates where 420 characters is the limit.Whether shortened links used in your WebPages are a threat to Search Engine Optimization? Or is that just a misinformation? Do URL shorteners pass anchor text?
Check the following video:

Google’s Matt Cutts addressed the issue in a recent video posted to Google’s Webmaster Help YouTube channel stating – “Custom URL shorteners are essentially just like any other redirects”. He explains- “If we try to crawl a page, and we see a 301 or permanent redirect, which pretty much all well-behaved URL shorteners (like or will do, if we see that 301 then that will pass PageRank to the final destination.” He continues. “The PageRank will flow through. The anchor text will flow through, and so I wouldn’t necessarily worry about that at all.”

Being reassured on that let us now dwell more on URL shortening and beyond Social Media.

1. Your Website Traffic Definitely depends more than only on Url Keywords!
Consider our browsing behavior. Mostly we find new sites through search engines. But once finding that - if we are to visit it again, we either bookmark it or enter it directly in the address-bar if we remember the url. There is also auto complete option on our browsers. So featuring a keyword in the url is not a mandatory rule for getting high traffic.

2. Make your Links Manageable and pretty
If your website has affiliate links use, you do not want a messy page there. Url shortening is not only the option but becomes a necessity at this point.

3. Use 301 Redirects!
This is interpreted as moved permanently! Refer what Matt Cutt has explained. If you have to change the file names or move the pages around this is considered as safest option. Also it preserves the link juice for your website.

4. Using Short Urls for Short Term Links
Links on twitter tweets and the ones in SMS marketing are meant for short term visibility. If you are using shortened links on your blog or website where a more descriptive link would drive long term traffic you are doing it all wrong!

There is plenty of url shortening service providers out there. Make use of them well where you need very little SEO effort but as and only when the situation demands.