A Little Shortening Goes A Long Way

As micro-blogging services like Twitter, Brightkite etc grow, URL services are becoming a central part of every social media junkie’s toolkit.

However, as Danny Sullivan pointed out recently, not all URL shorteners are created equal. Your URL shortening service can detract from your online marketing, or it can enhance it.

If you use the TinyURL service to which services like Twitter default, you’re missing out on a raft of useful information that can help to demonstrate the value of your outreach.If you’re using these services for your own personal uses you may not care; if you’re doing it as part of your job then you should.

Services like bit.ly give you detailed analytics, including:

  • Live click-through count
  • Breakdown of the locations of visitors
  • Breakdown of the services people are using to access the shortened URL
  • Social media conversations featuring the link

Of course, this isn’t going to replace other forms of measurement, but it can provide specific data on your individual activities. In an economy where measurement can give you the edge you need to justify your budget, can you afford to ignore this extra level of measurement?

  • Solid point Dave – not all shorteners are created equal but it seems everyone (Digg, Viigo, more) are building them into their service these days and getting into the game. I use bit.ly because of the modest analytical value but it makes me think this will become even more hotly competitive shortly, even without a real business model in place? I guess the best thing about that scenario is, us end users will reap benefits!

  • This discussion about shortening links has me thinking about permalinks and whether or not they have value anymore. Before permalinks, blog posts or other CMS content had nice short links like example.com/?post_id=6 which would work well in today’s 140 character world.

    It seems that somewhere along the way having super-long links with dates, categories and post titles became the thing to do, likely in the name of better SEO.

    This raises the question for me as to whether going back to short, plain links hurts your Google juice anymore.

  • The only downside to this tool is obsessively watching the numbers go up – thanks for the info though, much more fun than TinyURL. And yes, I just described analytics as ‘fun’

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