Poll: Should URL Shortening Services Pass Link Value?

Mar 3, 2009 • 8:55 am | comments (10) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Link Building Tips & SEO

A Sphinn thread has discussion around a "quick" study done to test if URL shortening services like TinyURL and others pass any link value. Clearly, all the time you and I spend on services like Twitter, makes this question something that many SEOs and webmasters want to know.

The study said that these services do not pass link value. Some don't believe the study, some do. I won't be getting into the validity of the study. Do your own tests and prove it to yourself.

I do know that Googlers often say in the Google help forums to use URL shortening services when they don't want to share their specific URL. The reason, I don't think is about passing "link juice," but rather that they can expire the URL shortened version, so it does not return a redirect for that URL, where they can't do the same if they link directly to their web site URL.

That being said, and I know a lot of you spend a ton of time on Twitter and services like it that use URL shortening services. Do you want those services to pass link value? There are two possible ways the services won't pass the link value. Either the service themselves marks the links as nofollow or something like it or search engines decide on their end to not let them pass value.

Should they pass value? Take the poll:

Forum discussion at Sphinn.

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03/03/2009 02:15 pm

As per my thinking and experience,URL Shortening doesn't pass link value or you can not get link juice for shortened URLs. I think if we can redirect that shorten URLs then we get the link value or link juice from that.

Brent Nau

03/03/2009 02:22 pm

Is there a list of URL shortneing services that are SEO friendly? I thought zi.ma was to be "SEO friendly"?

Thomas Kjelsrud

03/03/2009 02:37 pm

I think short URLs is a step in the wrong direction. The inability for these to be part of Google link graph is one of them.. read more in our blog: http://www.thingsontop.com/cake-great-twitter-good-short-urls-die-490.html

KJ Rodgers

03/03/2009 02:45 pm

I think that soon it will have to. With the real-time searches and the viral capacity, Search engines will need to know what people want to see and what is current. It may not have juice for a while, but I think after enough retweets and placements, certain tinies will be credited. (are Tinies a correct way to mention multiple tiny urls?)


03/03/2009 07:18 pm

@Brent Nau, I know cli.gs is seo friendly - i.e. it uses 301 redirects. Whether or not Google does something on its end, I don't know, but I somehow doubt it.

Carlos Redondo

03/03/2009 07:23 pm

URL shortening pass link value, because this links have 301 Moved Permanently header to your real link. But if this links have nofollow like twitter, it's lost time.

James Svoboda

03/04/2009 03:04 am

It has been my experience that Yahoo is the only major search engine that will follow a scripted link to "get to the other side" and count it for the site.

Bill Sebald

03/05/2009 01:10 am

I think there are times when you'd want to have 301s, and times you want 302s, but the bottom line is the engine is ultimately going to treat it anyway it wants. But while there is a loose rule, might as well stick with it. PS: I was inspired by the chatter on this so I put together a post with some shortening services that have 301's: http://tinyurl.com/seofriendlyshorteningservices - hopefully it comes in handy for ya. Basically TinyURL, Bit.Ly, SnipURL, and is.gd showed to be 301's when I checked.

No Name

03/05/2009 10:18 am

Hi guys, I'm the one that tested TinyURL to see if it passed link value. The interesting part about this the test is that TinyURL doesn't pass link value *despite the fact that it's a 301*. In theory, it should pass value like all 301s, but in practice it doesn't.

Ben Rosenthal

03/13/2009 04:55 pm

It seems that most of the time that a URL shortening service is used, the anchor text is the URL itself. If Google etc were using these URLs to pass link value, what content should the destination URL be associated with? Would it be the text adjacent to the shortened link? Is that really a reliable way to rank web pages? I voted "no" for this poll.

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