URL shorteners: Got a recommendation?

by Urs E. Gattiker on 2011/07/06 · 35 comments 94,128 views

in a analytics smarter & actionable KPIs,a analytics tools

Update 2011-12-01: 

Latest URL-shortener from Germany, works very well, is SEO friendly and provides anti-virus protection (checks your links to make sure). It also offers great statistics. Worth checking out for sure at SecURL.de – read the complete discussion here:  SecURL.de mit seinem Kurz-URL Dienst richtig macht im Kommentar and an abbreviated version below in the comments

Update 2011-09-29:

I just explained why Twitter does it right with its URL shortener but your service might not..

Update 2011-09-01: 

I just tested a few more URL shorteners for you.  First I re-visited Socialoomph Uand one other.  Read about how well it worked and how I used Edstorm‘s suggestion here.
If you have more suggestions, please leave a comment

Update 2011-08-31: 

Unfortunately, I just learned thanks to Edstorm that since Su.pr now uses the Stumble Upon overlay toolbar. Therefore, you no longer get the link juice using this URL-shortener.
Can you help us please. What shortener allows you to schedule tweets but still uses 301 re-route giving the originator of the content the link juice and provides statistics on top of that?

This post provides three tips for choosing the best URL shortener for your needs, as well as introducing the two services we use and why. I look forward to your additions and suggestions in the comment section below.

The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) shows the Internet address and URL shorteners have existed since 2002. We visit the shortener’s site, log in and enter the unshortened URL in the field provided and the URL is shortened with the click of a button. This short URL is then used for a tweet or to enable people to download an eBook.

Article source – URL shorteners: Got a recommendation?

A German version of this post is also available – Die besten Kurz-URL-Dienste

To get our next tip first, enter your email address in the field below:

1. Why Code 301 – Moved Permanently matters

Google’s bots only know about the permanent move of a webpage from the old (shortened) URL to the new one (your blog or webpage – the long URL) if the URL shortener service uses code 301. This means that the backlink will be credited to you or wherever the content is hosted – not the URL shortener.

Visit Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer, enter a shortened URL, check Auto-Follow and click Submit (see below).
Image - The info you want - here's how it's done - determining whether the URL shortener service uses Code 301.

If code 301 is shown, as in the case below, it means that the backlink ‘bonus’ has been credited to the website with the long URL and not the URL shortener service (i2h.de).

Image - The info you want - here's how a code 301 permanent redirect gets done by a URL shortener service.

Several URL shortener services use codes other than 301 (see below for details). This helps the URL shortener service improve its Google position instead of passing on the benefits to the site hosting the content.
[…]

300: Multiple Choices
301: Moved Permanently
302: Found [Elsewhere]
303: See Other<
304: Not Modified
305: Use Proxy
307: Temporary Redirect

To illustrate, the relatively popular clig.gs uses code 200, meaning everything is OK. But results from Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer prove that clig.gs keeps the backlink juice to improve their Google ranking instead of passing it on to the content host (I created a test URL for you to try – http://cli.gs/jbAzAP).

Tip 1: Look for a URL shortener service that uses the 301 code, ensuring you receive the backlink ‘juice’.

2. Statistics and archives

Most URL shortener services inclduing is.gd, TinyURL, and twURL do not provide any statistics. However, statistics mean knowing how many people have clicked on the link.

Beyond wanting statistics for each link, the question is how long they will remain available in the archive. To illustrate, Ping.fm only keeps data for 30 days. The link will continue to work thereafter, but finding out how many have clicked it in the last week becomes impossible.

Tip 2: Look for a URL shortener service that provides good statistics and an extensive, long-term archive.

3. Choose the service that is best for you

Besides ensuring the service uses code 301 and offers extensive statistics, as well as a long-term archive, you should also consider whether you will use the URL shortener for Twitter or other micro-blogging sites such as Identi.ca or Naijapulse.com.

Bit.ly and Su.pr (provided by StumbleUpon, owned by eBay) offer shortened links quickly and easily, with good tracking and posting to Twitter and Facebook if necessary.

Su.pr also offers the option of sending time-delayed tweets and serving several Twitter or Facebook profiles from one account. It even tells me how many Stumbles are added by users who see my shortened link and allows me to see who re-tweeted and how many more clicks resulted. Needless to say, I use it (since 2009)!

Tip: To find out more about the tips and tricks we provide about tools for social networking include the words ComMetrics and/or CyTRAP in your search.

I have also been using Adjix.com since 2008, which even shortens links to ad.vu for extreme space crunches. Besides statistics on number of clicks, the service also provides information about the IP address for each click and so forth. This service is ideal if you want to keep track of a free download and where people clicked from geographically.

Tip 3: Test Su.pr for Twitter and Facebook, as well as Adjix.com for a few weeks. Both provide SEO-friendly short URLs with code 301.

What is your opinion, which URL Shortener do you use? I look foward to your comments below.

  • http://twitter.com/birdbathbuzz/status/88405531395493888 Chris Isaac

    URL shorteners: Got a recommendation? http://ow.ly/1dDvqq

  • http://twitter.com/stanalbers/status/88515610161577984 Stan Albers

    RT @ComMetrics: URL shorteners: Got a recommendation? http://t.co/ZdFh7FH

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  • http://karenpurves.com karenpurves

    Woow! I had no idea the URL shorten services offered such varying services.

    For promotional purposes, I use budurl.com and can choose between 301 and 307 (temporary) assignments. Setting up the link to be 307 means I am able to use the same link but directing it to a new page.

    And, I will update my Twitter report dropping cli.gs now in favour of your recommendation.

    Thank you

    • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

      Karen

      thanks so much for your nice suggestion.  I once also used 301 and 307 (temporary) but have decided that I rather not change URLs (final destination) and just keep them as they are (i.e. referring to the long URL they did from the beginning).

      Budurl.com looks interesting as well, yes.

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  • Naude’

    Good article, I also had no idea there were so many varying offerings available.

    We use a similar (funny shorter urls) technology when developing web based applications for the purposes of obfuscating the function calls and variables used. It is not by any means a guarantee that your site is protected from hackers, however it does act as another layer and creates more work for the would be intruder.

    Creating urls with a timestamp also ensures that urls are unique (this not useful for public websites and SEO) and in this manner when print outs from the web based app fall into wrong hands, the URL in the header/footer is of little use.

    • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

      Naude

      Thanks for stopping by I find this idea of creating URLs with a timestamp an interesting one and, of course, it makes it unique. 
      The security angle I did not think about when I wrote this post, something else that is important of course.  

      Thanks so much for sharing and I look forward to your next comment on this blog.

  • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

    Naude

    Thanks for stopping by I find this idea of creating URLs with a timestamp an interesting one and, of course, it makes it unique. 

    The security angle I did not think about when I wrote this post, something else that is important of course.  

    Thanks so much for sharing.

  • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

    NaudeThanks for stopping by I find this idea of creating URLs with a timestamp an interesting one and, of course, it makes it unique. The security angle I did not think about when I wrote this post, something else that is important of course.  Thanks so much for sharing.

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  • http://twitter.com/trabasack/status/107383049234284544 Duncan Edwards

    @whoisbid looks ok on mine. Can you help me with something else do I get 301 link benefit with shortner I'm using http://ow.ly/6ehaZ

  • http://trabasack.co.uk Duncan

    I have been using the visibli service that puts a nice header bar on the top of everything I post :

    http://trabasack.visibli.com/share/3eZ9z8 

    but putting it into the Rex page as you suggested I get the 200 code.

    Does that mean I am not getting the benefit of it (when I post my own links?) please?

    • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear Duncan

      Thanks for the question. I try to answer based on what I was able to figure out.

      Generally, 2xx codes indicate the action requested by the client was received, understood, accepted and processed successfully.  
      200 in itself is a standard response for a successful http request.

      But since your shortening code lists visibli.com as the domain, it is obvious that the credit/SEO juice goes to their page and not yours at trabasack.co.uk

      So I suggest you use another shortener.  I also do not see how using trabasack.visibli.com adds anything good to your brand or reputation/image.

      How do you think it does?  I love to hear your answer to this one, please.

      • Saif Visibli.com)

        Hi Dunan/Urs – FYI, using visibli doesn’t actually impact the credit/SEO juice. When a google bot hits that visibli link, we let it through so that the destination page receives the credit. When a human hits that link, we show the Engagement Bar. Hope this clarifies things!

        Thanks,
        Saif
        Visibli.com

        • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

          Dear @b8e5dab10d6f0d8ac7e2968d8da3d90d:disqus @visibli:twitter 

          Thanks for replying to Duncan at @trabasack:twitter and me @ComMetrics:twitter here. 

          If what you say is true – you seem to be doing it not according to W3 standards regarding the http protocol as outlined here:

          ==> http://www.w3.org/Protocols/rfc2616/rfc2616-sec10.html

          All I can do now is either believe what you say (which is against the standard…. ) or do what?

          Of course, you let the link go through but the information the Google bot gets is the 200 code, which means that the page is actually on your visibli.com site. This means that none of the link credit passes to the originator.  It is all kept with visibli.comThere’s no need for a webpage to give visibli.com all the link credit. Unless you can convince me otherwise with facts, w3.org protocol suggest that if you want to shorten your URLs, use a service that does a 301 redirect. 

          Hope this helps and you can clarify this.

  • http://twitter.com/trabasack/status/107385089998065664 Duncan Edwards

    When do shortners give seo benefit? – < for instance does the visibli one I am using? I don't think it does!! http://t.co/DZUTrRO

  • Edstorm

    As far as I can see su.pr does a 301 but only to stumbleupon.com/su/etc. (as they have the overlay toolbar).  Don’t see how that leaves you with any link juice….

    • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear @88c8f601ac80aff79b00229bdb049240:disqus 

      Thanks for the info, I checked our archive and found that within the last 2 months, if I did this right —- su.pr changed things with this overlay toolbar.

      So it fails to do the job properly – so what can I use instead and still schedule my tweets. Any advice? 

      Thanks for checking, I really appreciate your help.

      • Ed Storm

        Hi,
        There are lots and lots of options, but I’d look at the most established ones so there’s no surprises when a service closes down & you end up loosing all your links and link juice.

        http://hootsuite.com – offer a free account, can schedule tweets, use their own url shortener ow.ly which uses a 301 redirect.

        http://www.socialoomph.com – offer a free account, can schedule tweets (plus much more), by default use their own url shortener dld.bz which uses a 301 redirect. But I think they also allow you to use bit.ly which of course is very established and also utilizes a 301 redirect.

        http://www.tweetdeck.com – last I checked the desktop client allowed for scheduling (whereas the chrome app extension did not). Uses j.mp as their url shortener which does use a 301 redirect. That being said they got bought out by twitter in May and with twitters use of their t.co shortener (which is anything but search engine friendly) I see the danger of that being used in tweetdeck at some stage.

        Whatever you end up using beware – twitters t.co url shortener is a pain in the *** In theory it should not re-shorten already shortened urls, but it does so in many cases anyways. When a third party service publishes to twitter with their own shortened url twitter may or may not apply their t.co (so test for that yourself!)

        Out of the above hootsuite and tweetdeck shortened urls seem to publish fine. But socialoomph dld.bz links got converted to t.co for me – this may or may not differ if you use bit.ly instead.

        Hope that helps somewhat…

        Something else I came across which looked interesting but which i haven’t looked into at all is buffer – discussed here: http://www.growmap.com/how-to-schedule-your-tweets-without-scheduling-review/

        • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

          Dear @88c8f601ac80aff79b00229bdb049240:disqus 

          Thanks so much for your suggestions.  These are really useful and it also reminds me that so many things are happening in this area that we tend to forget.

          For instance, I began using Socioomph shortly after it was launched a few years back.  But then around 2009 I kind of left it behind, my loss. @socialoomph is a great tool. Since I used it last it has made great strides in further improving its interface. As well, it uses 301 permanent redirect.

          The service also provides statistics and, of course, you can schedule your tweets as well. If you have the professional version (for a fee), you can use many other services including ping.fm and so forth.

          @edstrom,  I just tried Socioomph again and Twitter did not change the shortened link to t.co. However, this might change in the future. Also, when Twitter changes a bit.ly shortened link to t.co, the 301 permanent redirect gives the link juice to bit.ly

          To illustrate, copy this link http://t.co/bBQqY8j into Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer to see what I mean. This suggests that Twitter will probably have to change matters. Otherwise, it will face a public backlash if not damage to its reputation.

          I just tried Buffer with a tweet using link http://j.mp/nCHig7 (a bit.ly version).  Again checking the URL with  Rex Swain’s HTTP Viewer indicates that the 301 permanent redirect it generates makes sure that the link juice goes to the site with long URL.

          Ed I really appreciate your suggestions, very helpful.

        • Ed Storm

          Hi Gattiker,
          I think I could have been clearer when it comes to how twitter uses t.co to re-shorten links. If you open your tweet: http://twitter.com/#!/ComMetrics/status/109325694999334912

          Highlight the dld.bz/anCKN link and look at its source code, you’ll see that whilst dld.bz/anCKN is being used as the anchor text for your link the href= actually points to: t.co/NJWg8YP

          Whereas when you do the same check on your tweet that you sent out via buffer:  you’ll see that twitter left the short url in tact (did not rewrite to t.co) : http://twitter.com/#!/ComMetrics/status/109332742751264768

          This is what I meant by t.co being a pain in the *** ! It’s currently doing different things for different platforms.

          Now it needs to be said that twitter links are nofollow in any case – so link juice as such is ‘theoretically’ not awarded by Google et. al. But there is of course no doubt that twitter links (and social links in general) are weighted in some way or another by the search engines and you would want a search engine like Google to be able to figure out that your shortened link points to a particular web page.

          With t.co I don’t see how this is possible, because it uses some sort of combination of META redirect and Javascript – which Google bots won’t be able to follow through on.

          So in short – from the tweet scheduler options we’ve discussed only the following are currently not being overwritten by t.co:

          1. Hootsuite
          2. Buffer
          3. Tweetdeck Desktop

          (And possibly Socialoomph if you set up bit.ly api to be used instead of their default shortener, but I have not tested this!!)

          My apologies for not being clearer in my last response.

        • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

          Hi Jonas

          You wrote and I quote: “Highlight the dld.bz/anCKN link and look at its source code, you’ll see that whilst dld.bz/anCKNis being used as the anchor text for your link the href= actually points to: t.co/NJWg8YP”

          Did check, you are right.  So here is my reply and strategy for circumventing these issues.

          So besides the list you suggested:1. Hootsuite2. Buffer works either using its own service or else using using Bit.ly to shorten long URLs3. Tweetdeck Desktop4. Socialoomph – with this tweet I shortened via bit.li5. Using Socialoomphs own shortener does currently not work since it is changed to t.co by Twitter but the Bit.li option for shortening your long URL works fine. If any of the above is not an option before you can use either your bit.li or ad.vu (now you can get one only if you submit to advertising, not good) URL shortener and do as follows:a – shorten the long URL using Ad.vu or bit.li – thereafter copy the shortened URL and use it in your tweet that you prepare and schedule for release on Su.pr or another service you use for scheduling tweets, thenb – check if it works – for Su.pr – it did not shorten again the code with its own nor did Twitter add a t.co – so the 301 directs to the long URL site/blog post.Jonas, thanks again for all your help.

          Urs 

        • http://commetrics.com/articles/2011-trends-get-better-roi-with-facebook-twitter-and-youtube/ Urs E. Gattiker

          2011-09-29 UPDATE

          Twitter does give the code 301 – permanently moved page.Check in the blog post above entering your link if it uses http://t.co/….. it will tell you:

          HTTP/1.1·301·Moved·Permanently(CR)(LF)
          Date:·Wed,·28·Sep·2011·14:36:36·GMT(CR)(LF)

          If you use  Socialoomph it works great because not only does Twitter say its permantly moved, so does Socialoomph (or you can use bit.ly as a shortener with Socialoomph to get the statistics).

          So Twitter is giving you the choose but make sure the URL shortener does it do, because Twitter can pass it on, if the shortener service does not you are out of luck, they get the link juice you get nothing (e.g., Su.pr, LinkedIn – if you link out of there or Facebook as well).

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  • http://info.cytrap.eu/articles/social-media-marketing-fur-den-kmu Urs E. Gattiker

    Thanks to @Greenhornet9819:disqus I just came across another wonderful URL-shortener called SecURL.de.

    It offers you an SEO friendly link (301 permanent re-route) with great statistics and also possibility to share your shortened URL conveniently right out of the programs dashboard.

    Have fun with it and let us know here how well it works.

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  • Ruben Herralds

    I recommend http://a1i.org, it sends a 301 redirect with direct links.

    • http://commetrics.com/articles/what-they-do-not-teach-you-at-lady-gaga-university/ Urs E. Gattiker

      Dear Ruben @85fb094bf780145dc3f719fa6d1b22eb:disqus

      Thanks so much for this addition. I apologize for releasing it this late, somehow it just got lost.

      Unfortunately, I cannot see that a1i.org sends out a 301 redirect in fact it sends a 200 or 201 which means it fails this test.

      Am I doing something wrong? Love to get your advice on this.

      • Ruben Herralds

        http://a1i.org/d2Rm

        http://a1i.org/d/d2Rm

        The first is a default short URL which provides a preview of the site, and the second is a direct link which sends a 301.

        ~$ → curl -I http://a1i.org/d/d2Rm
        HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently

        • http://commetrics.com/articles/what-they-do-not-teach-you-at-lady-gaga-university/ Urs E. Gattiker

          Ruben Herralds

          Unfortunately, not clear where one can use the tool…. are you trying to get us to link back to Evans… or can I use this service on the Evans site somewhere?

          Please give the link to where one can use the service. That would be great.

          Thank you

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  • VD

    Url shorteners really help me in my marketing campaigns as they give me really nice analytics. I personally believe the new one http://tuq.in gives really nice stats in realtime also it gives me nice url control

    http://tuq.in/+stats

    it is free and very neat

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