Monday, July 7, 2014

Custom Url Shortener

There are several url shortening services or even custom shorteners like the known/important,,, Some services are offered by big players in the web like Google with and some sites of micro blogging like Twitter with tweetburner/twurl. The objective of this article is not to quote all services of shortening of urls (urls shortener services) but trying to understand if there is any SEO benefits derived from their utilization. I will however make a small benchmarck of the main existing shorteners 7 criteria-based urls.

Custom url shorteners (or urls shortening services? What's that?) a bit of a do...

We are operating in a world of micro-blogging, communities and social networks where every character counts and that`s a bit of a do. The shortening of urls services are there to allow us to transform a url that is long, complex, with lots of incomprehensible parameters sometimes, to a url very very short 10 maximum character.

For example, when you want to share a url of this type:,d.bGQ

This may not pass by mail, since some mail clients cut on the first line not to mention that some people (ex: my mom) will not click out of fear of receiving a virus or other malware (yup, it still exists, I promise you :-)). Finally, some sites like twitter do not accept more than 140 characters per message while this url alone has way more... etc you tighten so happy to make this long url in, no? As you can see the value of having such services. ( is so far my favorite)

Custom URL shortener: what advantage does it have for SEO?

Searching the web implementation examples succeeds this url shortening service, I realized that the whole point of the service is either marketing or functional but brings no benefit in terms of pure white hat SEO optimizations. (because the blackhat ones are many) Here I draw a few conclusions:

1. the primary objective of the use of the custom url shortener is no SEO since thus used links pass no credit to the destination page. (most being 302 redirections)

2. There is a question of reliability of the services that could make a havoc on the website building or promoting community and social networks if these shortening services came to a fall. If they all became 'dead' (dead links) preventing links / killing all of the sharing of information on networks.

3 from a usability or user experience standpoint, the use of these services remain very useful since it is always easier to find/share a shorter link versus as a long and complete one. This is especially true since some services of micro-blogging like twitter limits the number of characters in your message to 140.

4. from a SEO standpoint, there therefore is no direct advantage since the links redirect 301/302 or by javascript (for certain urls shorteners as to the choice to landing pages.

A good practice is therefore to use a 301 permanent redirect but it might not transmit all the credit (link juice) to the destination page. There is therefore no interest to prefer this type of service (from an SEO perspective) to a good and solid link which, meanwhile, will forward any popularity and will also incidentally know/recognize the brand as we clearly see the domain name (in the case of micro blogging or social networks).

Benchmarck of 3 custom urls shorteners services:

There exists dozens of good services of shortening for your urls and now it seems like one is created daily... (hence how to pick one to use it in your daily blogging and sharing? to answer this question, here's a little benchmarck of the article Danny Sullivan: URL Shorteners: Which Shortening Service Should You Use?
Here is the comparison of 15 shortening services and is based on seven criteria, namely:

1. the type of redirection HTTP (301-permanent or temporary-302),

2. the possibility of tracker urls (for statistical purposes for example),

3. the length of the url (http://xxx.yy/) database,

4. the length of the variable part (ID),

5. the ability to customize

6. the possibility of sharing the url

7. the total length of the url.

custom url shorteners

There are several other services shortening of urls which are not illustrated here, so you can apply the 7 criteria used above above to select your favorite ones.

I am writing this article to prove that as of today, I don't see any advantages in terms of pure white hat SEO. If you see some benefits, do not hesitate to share via comments and open discussion ;-)

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