Link shorteners are exactly what they sound like: tools that take a too-long URL and condense it into a new, briefer one. But there are some hidden benefits, and the odd drawback of these nifty generators.
Ever felt frustrated by long links and too many parameters? Or maybe you couldn’t recall this 30-character URL you wanted to share so badly? We know these pains all too well. And, we know the solution – URL shorteners. But do you know that using URL shorteners can be a valuable tool for marketing professionals?
The Pros: They do more than just reduce character counts.
Popular URL shorteners today such as Bitly, Bl.ink, Ow.ly, and Google’s goo.gl make your hyperlink text look more attractive. Normally, website URLs take up a lot of space – often unattractive strings of random letters and numbers – and can be distracting and aesthetically unpleasing. Shortened links make the reading experience smoother, particularly on social media platforms.
What you may not be aware of is most URL shorteners provide analytical data. URL abbreviation apps like bit.ly and Ow.ly, provide extensive tracking data on your links. Understanding the number of link clicks and gaining insights on the people who click them will help you create more valuable content in the future.
Finally, it’s crucial to keep the SEO power within your domain and not pass it to the shortening domain. That’s why you should always check if the shortened link has a 301-type redirect. The good thing is that nearly all of link shortners use it, so your SEO power is safe.
The Cons: Nothing is Perfect
With the onslaught of spam and virus-laden links overwhelming online articles, viewers are potentially more likely to be wary of shortened links. From an SEO perspective, this can potentially lead to distrust with the reader, resulting in fewer clicks.
If you feel so inclined, you can use shortening services, such as these ones, to create custom URLs, known as vanity URLs, which are related to your brand name. For example, the New York Times uses “nyti.ms” in the articles they share on social media. When you click on a link that contains “nyti.ms,” you know you’ll be directed to the New York Times website.
The other downfall with URL Shortners is they no longer save space on Twitter. In 2016, Twitter stopped counting videos, images and links in the 140 character tweet limit. Businesses that employ link shorteners only for the sake of easily tweeting their content no longer need to use them.
When it comes to social media, shortened URLs are the clear winner; If you are not already using them, it is definitely time to start. But using shortened links where they’re not needed is only time-wasting and increasing the potential for lost click-throughs.
Ultimately, it’s up to you to choose whether or not a URL shortener is right for your business’ marketing plan.