How Search Engines treat Shortened URLs

How Search Engines treat Shortened URLs

Both company owners and internet users agree that a shortened URL is preferred. Who wants to copy and paste a URL with a bunch of numbers and random characters? This makes it impossible for anyone to remember and it makes citing the source extremely difficult. For this reason, companies actually change the URLs to something shorter and easier to handle. 

The easiest way to implement a URL shortener is to issue a HTTP redirect. There are many different types of redirects, and you can learn more about how to put them in motion by visiting Hong Kiat. When doing so, the shortened URL will either be a 301 or a 302 redirect. 

Although this may sound like just another set of random numbers, whether or not your URL is a 301 or 302 redirect is very important. If you’re considering using a shortened URL service, this is one of the most important things you can ask. Consider the difference between the two below:

The Permanent Redirect: 301 Shortened URLs

A 301 redirect means that the shortened URL has permanently moved to the original (long) address. This means that when search engines find these links to short URLs those links will count in terms of SEO. The search engines will count these shorteners as a direct link; thus helping you increase your PageRank and improve your search engine ranking. Below are a few of the most popular 301 redirects:

  • Bit.ly – This is probably the most popular way to shorten a URL.
  • Tr.im 
  • Cli.gs
  • Short.ie
  • TinyURL

All of these shortened URLs are either supported by TweetDeck and Twitter Feed or soon will be. The URLs using these shorteners are all between 13 and 19 characters long, making it easy to keep your tweets under 40 characters. 

The Temporary Redirect: 302 Shortened URLs

On the other end of the spectrum, a 302 redirect is considered temporary, so search engines do not assume that this is the real URL. For this reason, the search engines will not count these URLs from an SEO perspective.  In other words, if you want credit for the link when it comes to improving PageRank and search engine rankings, you want to stay away from 302 redirects. Below are a few examples of 302 shorteners:

  • Hex.io
  • Tweetburner
  • Plurl
  • Ht.ly
  • Fon.gs

It may seem like there is no reason to use a 302 redirect, many companies really do want something temporary for readers. If you still want readers to refer to your normal URL in the future, but are currently doing some sort of maintenance on the site, a 302 redirect is appropriate. 

Multiple Redirects

You will also want to make sure that you avoid multiple redirects. Search engines will actually stop following your site after the first redirect, so you will want to make sure you get it right the first time.

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