Today Google launched their proprietary link shortener, and there are a number of reason you should consider blending it into your social media networking and marketing – with SEO being one of them.
Why Do We Need Link Shorteners?
For the uninformed, link shorteners such as the Google shortener take links such as the permalink to my blog post from yesterday, which is about 98 characters, and shorten it to 18 characters. Here it is using Google's shortener: http://goo.gl/TyiS
You can understand the primary value of link shorteners is to conserve space, especially when you are posting on Twitter. In the early days of the social Web, there were just a few services for shortening links, with TinyURL being one of the first.
Today, link shorteners serve a number of purposes beyond just shortening longer links, with analytics being one of the most significant. When you use the popular bit.ly link shortener, which is still my favorite, you get some great analytics that tell about your Web traffic.
Analytics and QR Codes
A little trick with any bit.ly url is to simply add the "+" sign after the link and plug that into your browser and you will get some nice analytics. This is a great way to validate how much traffic your competitors websites are really getting.
If you think that's cool, try this: add ".qr" to a Google shortened link and you will generate a QR Code that will take you to the original link. The QR Code above to my blog post from yesterday was generated in that way. You can use the QR Code scanner on your mobile device to scan that code and it will take you to that post.
Here's an earlier post I made that will help you learn more about QR Codes and how they are and can be used, including how to download the appropriate scanner (for free) for you mobile device, whether that be an iPhone or Android.
What This Means For SEO
Proprietary link shorteners provide valuable information that search engines use to attract advertising dollars. This is why Twitter recently launched its own link shortener. In addition to preparing to launch one of their own, Facebook has said they will start breaking the bit.ly links.
Why? It's all about aggregating and controlling data (with links being a vital source) that advertisers can use to find new customers.
As far as the Web is concerned, Google is still the major player in search. However, Twitter is the king of real-time search and Facebook may well be the challenger to both Google and Twitter. 90% of Facebook's revenue this year is from advertising – and that figure is expected to eclipse a billion dollars.
Facebook's semantic search engine, which taps into the minutiae of data on your profile and behavior as you engage with friends, is arguably the future of search. It allows advertisers to target an audience with unbelievable accuracy.
So Many Choices and So Little Time
One of the shortcomings of the Google link shortener, as compared to bit.ly, is there is no easy way to quickly copy and paste that link. It's cumbersome to use.
Nevertheless, you cannot ignore Google's dominance of search on the Web today.
My suggestion is to diversify to ensure you have equal coverage in all of these venues. Just as you should wisely diversify your financial investments to minimize the risk of the unknown, I would suggest doing the same with your investment in your equally valuable small business marketing content.
That's what I plan to do for now.
As I learn more, I'll be sure to share my thoughts with you.
How about sharing yours with a comment.
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Enjoy the weekend…
and don't forget the film – The Social Network – premieres tomorrow! …Jeff