Put Those Shorts Away!

URL Shortener Inbound LinkBe careful when you choose your URL shorteners as they may amputate your inbound links accidentally.

If you’re like me you use URL shorteners a lot!  Like most people I started using them thanks to Twitter’s 140 character limit.   Then when tools like TweetDeck started auto-shortening my URLs I really started to get used to them.  Now I find myself using them regularly outside of Twitter.

Why Use URL Shorteners?

While some folks think they’re ugly or even suspicious and spammy-looking, but they do serve a greater purpose:

  • If your link/URL is really long then including them in press releases or text emails can really intimidate and overwhelm the reader.
  • Also some press release tools have their own character limits that can get eaten up by full link paths.  URL shortener conserve that precious character limit.
  • If you want to hide or not overtly publish link parameters you’re passing through, then a shortener is a great way to accomplish that.  Though I’m not saying this is an ideal method of link cloaking (a more sophisticated way of passing parameters), because it’s not.

The Kicker

If you’re creating content that could one day end up on another site, those inbound links could be very valuable to you.

But if you use a URL shortener, are you losing that inbound link love?  Maybe!

It depends on your shortener service.  Most of the major services like bit.ly perform 301 redirects allowing your inbound link love to be preserved.  If you’re in doubt, run the shortener URL through an HTTP header analyzer and confirm a 301 response (and not 302) is received.

Do You Care About URL Shortener and Inbound Links?

  • What other features of URL shorteners do you consider important?
  • Which ones are more important to you than preserving the inbound link?