In the era of Twitter, and pages designed for smartphones, using URL shorteners seems indispensable. It is the difference between putting a giant link that takes up too much screen and a short one that saves us several characters.
In addition, using short links is a great way to organize the content of a website , especially when we must paste those links in different formats that do not accept embedding them or so that users know with just a glance what they are about.
But is everything so simple? Is it enough to simply shorten a link? The answer is a definit no. There are several important things to keep in mind when choosing a URL shortener.
URL Shorteners: What To Consider
A URL shortener creates a shorter link from which it redirects traffic to the original link. But not all redirects are the same. As a general rule, we want traffic data (such as number of clicks received) to be assigned to the original link and not the shortened one. There are very few situations in which it is not convenient to do this, for example if we want to specifically measure the performance of shortened links.
So it’s important to know how each URL shortener does its job. In general they use two different types of redirects, 301 (permanent) and 302 (temporary).
The permanent redirects tell the search engines that the traffic generated by the short link will always be taken to address the (original) long link. This causes all traffic data to be associated with the original link.
Instead, temporary redirects cause the data to be associated with the cut link.
Why do we care so much about this? To no one’s surprise, where search engines and links mix SEO performance appears. As detailed in other notes, external links leading to a site (backlinks) are one of the most important SEO factors. Google and other search engines “reward” sites that receive many backlinks for understanding that the public considers them relevant.
When we share a shortened link on Twitter it is difficult to know where it will end. And it is very possible that someone will copy it and use it to reference our content. In that case, having made a link with temporary redirection means that this “credit” against search engines will be wasted because it will not reach the actual page but the shortened link.
It is important to know that the chosen URL shortener is stable. Otherwise one day we can find that our links are completely down and that we waste a huge amount of work.
If we are going to use a URL shortening service intensively (a very good idea) having data on its performance is vital. Did people click on the cut links you shared on Twitter?
Although Google Analytics can give you an idea of the traffic that comes from each social network, it is not always very detailed. That is why many URL shorteners offer a tracking to know how your short links perform.
Another interesting feature -although often enabled only for premium users- is that of editing the urls. Instead of using a random mix of words, some services allow you to design the links.
It is a great way to increase the clicks received, but if the goal is to use short links on Twitter, be careful not to use too many characters.
The Best URL Shorteners
When think about URL shorteners the many questions come in mind like what they are and how we use them. Here we discussed about some best URL shorteners.
# 1 Bitly:
With a free account we can see some statistics about the performance of our links.
# 2 TinyURL
Although visually it leaves a lot to be desired, TinyURL is extremely simple and does its job. It is another very popular option that appears regularly in the Twitter feed.
# 3 Ow.ly
This tool developed by Hootsuite is very convenient for those who use this platform to manage their social networks. In addition, the shortener works very well, although it requires free registration to use it.
# 4 IS.GD
This option shortens all URLs that we add to bookmarks and also has the option to create QR codes. It is fast and really very effective.
# 5 adf.ly
Adf.ly is a different option than all of the ones on this list. In addition to shortening links, it allows us to profit from them. The service requires us to register to use it. Once we shorten a URL we can paste it anywhere.
Users who visit it will see an advertisement for a few seconds before being redirected to the page.
Obviously this makes it not a viable option for everyone, but it is important to keep it in mind if we need to boost our income.