Content consumers today are immersed in a sea of information from a myriad of different websites and social media channels. It is becoming increasingly hard to capture and retain their attention and organisations must update their marketing tactics for this reason. Social media is a massively expanding industry that has fuelled the growth of the URL shortening industry as there is an increased phenomenon of sharing links across multiple media and in numerous different forms. In addition, Instagram and Twitter are major players in this trend of organisations using brand-specific or shortened links like goo.gl, youtu.be and in particular bit.ly. This allows them to capture the attention of their audience and increase traffic to their content.
For instance, Adidas and Red Bull both use custom shortened links on social platforms such as Instagram:
What is Bit.ly and why does it matter for digital marketers?
Bit.ly is a URL shortening tool where users convert long URL addresses to short ones. This increases readability and easily attracts a company’s audience. A key focus of bit.ly is to minimise the length of links. It is crucial for brands to focus on whether their media platforms are user-friendly. Customers’ user experience is one of the important aspects of a business as it directly links to customer satisfaction. Moreover, customers are bombarded with information and options all day every day. When exposing them to any business output that seems complicated, brands risk losing their customers’ attention and business.
How does SEO for Bit.ly work?
Bit.ly uses the 301 redirect system. This sends both users and search engines to a different URL from the original one. Serving a 301 (HTTP status code) redirect indicates to both browsers and search engine bots that the page has moved permanently. Search engines interpret this as a change of location for the page and believe that an updated version of the content can be found in that new URL.
The engines will carry any link weighting from the original page to the new URL, as below:
However, it is crucial to observe if these URL shortening systems are not detrimental to your SEO. The more a company’s content is shared, the better and so it comes to question if a shortened URL is recognised by search engine algorithms. Additionally, the majority of popular URL tools such as bit.ly have good uptime and pass PageRank.
301 redirection risk
This system raises the question of PageRank dilution as the link is distributed between channels. However, this is not something to worry about since according to Google Webmasters 90-100% of link equity passes along to the final destination.
Benefits of bit.ly links:
- Link encryption: Every link is encrypted with HTTPS which guards against eavesdropping or third-party tampering.
- Media convergence: Users are exposed to the desired link on one social media platform which links them to another sharing platform. Bit.ly hence connects multiple social channels to streamline the sharing process.
- Clicks: Shortened URLs attract more website visitors due to their ease of search.
Effects on brand performance and resonance
Shortening your links is the way to go if you want your audience to click on them and trust them more.
- Custom links: Organisations are able to create custom back-links (bit.ly/…) or front links for your brand (e.g. Red bull’s ‘win.gs/…’).
- Memorability: The new links are short and easy to remember for search. Therefore, they are useful for building a compelling call-to-action, campaign and driving brand growth.
- Increased readability: The shortened/ customised link conveys the website content more clearly and succinctly.
- Flexible sharing: Sharing these shortened links is possible on numerous social pages. It is a good fit for them as these platforms usually have a max capacity for characters in descriptions (e.g. Twitter)
When is it best to use a URL shortening tool for campaigns?
Shortened URLs are preferable when the full URL is too lengthy and confusing in terms of where it will lead the searcher. For example, publishing a full URL on a social media post can can hurt the manifestation of your message. Shortened URLs improve aesthetics and user experience. Furthermore, shorter URLs also work well on print campaigns.
Bit.ly is similar to Google Analytics
In a similar way to Google Analytics, Bit.ly allows you to track the sharing activities of your post/tweet over a specific period of time. This makes this tool more useful to digital marketers as it additionally provides them with this service.
If you wish to gain a deeper understanding on Google Analytics, watch our SEO TV video below.
The future of URL links…
In the years to come, we will still need the “directions” to get to our destination. Though, we might not necessarily need to see the URL that gets us there. For now, Bit.ly codes and other URL shortening tools are improving UX for social media tools and helping brands in various ways.
Shortening URLs with Bit.ly- https://bitly.com/pages/features/link-shortening
301 Redirection- https://moz.com/learn/seo/http-status-codes
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