Should You be Using Google’s URL Shortener in Your Social Media Campaigns?
February 25th, 2014 by
The other day I was visiting my normal news sites, Mashable, Coding Horror, and news.google.com among others. While getting my information download I came across a few postings I thought had true value, and I wanted to share them with my social media friends and family. I immediately went to my handy dandy Google URL Shortener which I had added to my Chrome browser toolbar and – click – presto, I have a short url ready to paste to any social media platform, in my clipboard, cocked and loaded. And so I shared, and then shared some more.
The nice thing about Google’s service is you can track anyone’s goo.gl URL analytics by adding .info, or simply +, to the end of it. For instance, the analytics to the URL http://goo.gl/zlzlYv, which points to www.SearchInfluence.com, can be seen at http://goo.gl/zlzlYv.info. I occasionally went back to my .info page to see which of the links I shared actually had any value (received clicks on their respective pages) to my friends, family and followers.
Google gives some good basic analytics data about URL click throughs, although I’ve seen more in depth analytics from URL shortening service competitors. But I digress, it was about this time when I started wondering, with being the obvious search leader and giant, does using the Google URL shortener give an SEO advantage in search results? It might make sense for Google to use URL shortener data(like number of clicks for a shortened URL) in order determine rank worthy content. Also, it seems logical that since this is another metric to look at how users share content, they would want to encourage the use of their shortener, perhaps by giving some advantage to companies using goo.gl for their social media campaigns, much like the seo benefits of using Google Plus Maggie told us about earlier this month.
The obvious benefits of using Google as your URL shortening service include proper redirects. You know if you are using their URL shortener you will never run into problems with shorteners that don’t properly treat the redirect conversion as a 301 redirect or don’t properly transfer PageRank or any future possible negative impact. Most popular shorteners conform to the standards set by Google, but still, it’s better to be safe.
Another important issue for short url providers is trust. You must trust the service uptime (availability) is as close to 100% as possible. You have to trust that the redirect process will happen at a speed measured in milliseconds, not seconds. You also need to trust the provider isn’t going to just disappear one day. With an average of 5,922,000,000 (nearly 6 trillion) Google searches every single day, I think they can handle the job of keeping up with this level of service. Besides, you are probably already trusting them to handle your site analytics, search results, pay-per-click advertising and storing documents, among other services. Why not keep all your data in one place?
It is worth noting that Google has pulled the plug on some beloved services in the past, but they generally provide users with a lot of advanced warning before the twilight date. Also, they always provide a way to migrate user data from the shuttered service.
So, we know the Google URL shortening service is worthy of using and helps keep our data in one place, but is there actually a positive weight given to these URLS that translates into higher rankings on the SERPs? For that, I spoke with our Google and Local SEO expert here at Search Influence, Mary Silva. Here is what she had to say on the subject:
“There’s not necessarily any kind of weight given to using the Google URL shortener for linking. Also, Matt Cutts has explicitly said that “goo.gl isn’t an effort to kill anything,” and isn’t some sort of attempt to kill other “product X” URL shorteners.
In terms of SEO effects of the shortener, it’s important to recognize that there have been reports that once in a while the Google URL shortener has created broken links, so that would obviously not be beneficial in terms of back-linking and other similar efforts. Always double check that the short url actually works, regardless of the provider you use. Another thing to note is that the Google URL shortener creates a 301 redirect which passes 90-99% of link juice to the redirected page, and is the most ideal for redirects for SEO practices, which isn’t the case for all URL shorteners.”
So, is Google going to rank your linked content higher just because you used their URL shortener? Nope. Content is king and there is no exception to that just because you use Google’s products. Should you use Google’s URL shortener? While no url shortening service is perfect, using this one is certainly no worse than others. Knowing that the service provider is fairly reliable may bring some peace of mind.