URL Shortening Services: Good or Bad Idea?

URL shorteningWith increasing content and data sharing on the web and social media sites, more and more companies are coming up with ways to simplify the sharing process. URL shortening services allow users to transform long links into shortened URLs (the URL is the web address of a specific page on the internet).

Example before URL shortening:
http://vasimpleservices.com/tip-from-gary-vaynerchuk-why-numbers-don%E2%80%99t-matter-video

Example after URL shortening using bit.ly:
http://bit.ly/pquD5I

Example after URL shortening using tinyurl.com:
http://tinyurl.com/NumbersDontMatter

Good:

  • Your links are easier to share
  • Your links are cleaner and more manageable
  • You can track and analyse data (with certain URL shortening companies)
  • Since Twitter is restricted to 140 characters, using a URL shortening service gives you more room to share your message
  • Easier to remember especially for companies that allows you to chose keywords such as http://tinyurl.com/

Bad:

  • Since you don’t see the origin of the link, it could be abused by spammers and hackers and create security risks. Some URL shortening companies offer preview features that allows you to view link details before clicking on it to help avoid these kind of issues.
  • Some URL shortening services may not have a sustainable business model in the long term. If you’re posting links all over the web, your links might stop working if the company no longer exist. Make sure to use a reputable company to try to prevent this problem.
  • Be careful when using URL shortening services for your email marketing. Your emails could end-up in your recipients spam folder. Check out this article by Aweber 

Some of the URL Shortening services you might want to consider:

Goo.gl
Bit.ly
tinyurl.com
ow.ly 

Note: Some have raised concerns over URL shorteners and their impact on SEO (Search Engine Optimization). All the top URL shorteners such as tinyurl, bit.ly and goo.gl uses 301 redirects so they should be SEO friendly!

Here’s a video from Matt Cutts from Google explaining this.

 

Are you shortening your links? Which URL shortening service do you use?
Image: Vlado / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

  • The advantages outweigh the disadvantages. They are used constantly and yes some are spam but most as we see on Twitter and other sites have meaningful links.

Genevieve Lachance is a web marketing consultant who has a passion for social media and technology based in Montreal, Canada. Read More About Me »