As social media continues to factor more and more on the web, webmasters need to keep an eye on how new trends and/or developments such as URL shorteners affect SEO rankings. For these useful tools, at least, URL shorteners have been integrated into sites without any drawbacks – really without much difference at all in how search engines value the links.
To Google, custom URL shorteners are basically viewed as general redirects and the PageRank comes through just like a regular 301 or permanent redirect, so there isn’t any downside for SEO. As Matt Cutts of Google says in a video posted on their Webmaster Help YouTube Channel, “If we try to crawl a page, and we see a 301 or permanent redirect, which pretty much all well-behaved URL shorteners like bit.ly or goo.gl will do, if we see that 301 then that will pass PageRank to the final destination.”
He adds that since the PageRank and anchor text will flow through, there shouldn’t be any harm to using custom URL shorteners in SEO.
There are some nuances, of course, such as Twitter webpages that have a nofollow link, that might require other ways for Google to find out about the link. As he puts it, “Now, just to let you know, if you look at, for example, Twitter’s web pages, many of those links have a nofollow link, so those links that are on the webpage, may not necessarily flow PageRank. But we might be able to find out about those links through some other way, maybe a data feed or something like that. But just URL shorteners, as far as how they relate to SEO, are not necessarily a problem at all.”
The bottom line is that URL shorteners are a powerful way to build links and support SEO. “The vast majority of well-behaved URL shorteners have good uptime, and also pass PageRank and anchor text because they use a 301 redirect,” concludes Matt Cutts.
Google has just evolved their own shortener, goo.gl, with several new features to improve its ease of use and performance.
Here is the full version of Google’s Matt Cutts talking about custom URL shorteners on their Webmaster Help YouTube channel:
URL Shortener Options
- www.h38.com – very cool, this our custom shortener. If you would like to have the source code just ask us.
- bit.ly and j.mp – the grandaddys of URL shorteners, now owned by Twitter. They have great tracking tools.
- goo.gl – Google’s new shortener, we have not tested it but it should work well
- tinyurl.com – This was the original URL shortener, although it is rarely used anymore. Sad story from a top 100 web 1.0 website.
We still believe that you should get quality links from unfiltered sources, and not rely solely on 3rd party services for your linkbuilding URL’s.