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SEO Friendly Link Shortening Services Exist?

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Google defines a good link as an “editorial” link; that is, a link a webmaster naturally posts to share a value with his/her readers, or to provide a recommendation. With all the new shorthand messaging services around, smaller viewing screens in smartphones, smarter analytics technologies, and the fleets of new savvy web users communicating in a whole new web-language, shortened URLs are becoming incredibly popular. You’ve seen them all over Twitter. This is a perfect example of an arena where editorial links are extremely abundant. Google should love them!

So why is it that so many don’t pass link value? Granted, many are technically built with 302 redirects, but engines have the discretion to treat a 302 redirect as a 301 redirect. Still, most SEOs would agree that they’re not seeing much – if any – SEO boost from the shortened URLs as a whole.  I can’t say I’ve definitely noticed any link love myself.  But until I did my homework, and realized there were more 301 redirect shortening services than there used to be, I may not have been using the right service anyway.  So let me show my work a little bit…

10 popular shortening services:

Before you pick a shortening service willy-nilly, maybe think about whether you’re looking for link value or not. This doesn’t guarantee Google will follow the 301 redirect that is built into some of these shortening services, but it’s the best chance you have.  The following are 10 of many.  This list was pulled out of TweetDeck, currently my favorite Twitter messaging tool.

Service SEO Friendly?
TinyURL Maybe – it’s a 301 but does not appear to pass link value (see update below) Yes
budURL No Yes
Eweri No No No Yes No
SnipURL Yes
Twurl No

The shortening services usually don’t let you add keywords to the URL (though some do – TinyURL lets you add a custom alias). And yes, shortened URLs can be used for SPAMMING too, but what is natively built into Google’s SPAM filtering algorithms would surely be able to evaluate these shortened links too. One cool thing is that many of these services give you basic tracking of a shortened link via a free account registration (some of which let you kill the link to control timely promotions or temporary pages).  Definitely useful and valuable in some applications I suppose.

*** Update: 3/18/09

Oggie mentioned this link in the comments:
So after some testing, Shark SEO says TinyURL does not pass link juice despite the 301. At least anchor text relevance. Is this due to something in Google, or something triggered by the TinyURL service? I’m going to try to test this out myself, but I think I’ll stop using TinyURL as my link shortening service of choice.

Related: Small Business SEO Services

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    The comments are do-follow. However, any comments that use keyword anchor text as the name will be removed.

    1. Search Engine Snark
      March 5, 2009 uses 301 re-directs, offers URL customization and even has reporting


    2. SEOWebHelp
      March 11, 2009

      TinyURL doesn’t pass a follow to your site. No link juice.


    3. Stephen Zelinski
      March 11, 2009

      Actually, TinyURL does appear to 301s actually:
      HTTP/1.0 301 Moved Permanently =>
      Connection => close
      X-Powered-By => PHP/5.2.8
      Location =>
      Content-type => text/html
      Content-Length => 0
      Date => Wed, 11 Mar 2009 05:08:55 GMT
      Server => TinyURL/1.6


    4. Oggy
      March 18, 2009

      TinyURL does not pass juice even with a 301 redirect. See the lowdown on this blog:

      Thx for the article Bill!!!

      Oggys last blog post..Go-ref – 2009-03-12


    5. Bill Sebald
      March 18, 2009

      @Oggy: Interesting. I started a test too; this looks like something worth investigating deeper. I’ll update my post.


    6. Internet intelligence
      April 3, 2009

      Great useful post. :D


    7. Los Angeles SEO Services
      December 16, 2009

      Anybody done any research on whether passes link juice? I know a lot of people don’t use it because the frames are annoying, but it does have some nice analytics that I don’t see in other link shorters.