Choose the best for your SEO activities
When using any of these services you have to be careful which service to use as they all don’t use a 301 direct and it is important from an Search Engine Optimisation perspective.
For those not fully aware what redirects are or do then a brief overview will help explain. There are different types of redirects and various ways they can be implemented.
The HTTP standard defines several status codes for redirection (Wikipedia):
- 300 multiple choices (e.g. offer different languages)
- 301 moved permanently
- 302 found (originally temporary redirect, but now commonly used to specify redirection for unspecified reason)
- 303 see other (e.g. for results of cgi-scripts)
- 307 temporary redirect
As can be seen from above types of redirects they can be used for a variety of purposes eg
- moving a site from one domain to another
- pointing old filenames to new/alternative ones
- cloaking/protecting affiliate links and
- most recently url shortening services
The growing introduction of shortening services poses some issues for SEO in the way they implement the 3?? direct and not all are as good for SEO as others. Search Engine Land (SEL) had a post back in April (Google service not launched) showing the services which used a 301 Redirect.
The importance of choosing a service using a 301 Redirect is clear as you will want the link to be permanent and provide what backlink link juice that might be available.
As far as affiliate links are concerned many of the fears are valid and justified not only from a redirect perspective but also to protect the affiliate link from being hijacked or bypassed both of which could impact on earnings.
Alternative Url Shortening Services
There are other legitimate services out there, however, that can be run on your own servers which you have complete control over including link stats etc which can be used either for all your shortened urls or only those ones you would like to have full control over.
I recently, when the .co tld was made available, registered wso.co domain for that purpose and use it for a number of links in conjunction with the major shortening services as an when appropriate.