Mar82010Why bit.ly and other link shorteners don’t help SEO
Anecdotal evidence and experiences of search engine optimizers, as well as hints in the typically cryptic comments of search engine’s staff indicates that real time indexing is increasingly important. This means that the number and quality of links is not enough – the frequency and freshness of content associated with links to your site have an impact as well.
What better method to post fresh content quickly and easily than via social media such as Twitter and Facebook?
One limitation of Twitter is its 160 character message size. This causes many twitterers, and even Facebook marketers (without that limitation) to use link shortening services like bit.ly. Those services “encrypt” longer links (e.g., http://www.polardesign.com/news/newsen/SearchBostonPolarDesignJV.newsitem.shtml ) to deep linked pages into shorter links that often look like this: http://bit.ly/cvegVL .
While a very cool service, link shorteners create a link that does not go directly to the target web site, but rather to the bit.ly web site where it is then redirected to the actual link. This means that search engine spiders follow these bit.ly and other shortened links will not associate the final page destination,
Remember one of the cardinal rules about SEO – NO redirects! Why? Because the team at Google long ago determined that less scrupulous marketers were building up pages’ pagerank and then later redirecting them (as part of paid commercial relationships) to a web page whose owners wanted a high ranking, quickly. For example, someone might create a web site called autoinsurance.com, attract links, amass traffic and pagerank, and then redirect it (for a fee) to an insurer’s web site.
This is a well known practice for moved pages. Some evidence suggests that Google doesn’t penalize redirects in all cases. Nevertheless, and this is the most important insight of this post: we have never seen bit.ly links appearing in Twitter tweets or Facebook status updates or wall posts registered as a link to a page in Google Webmaster Tools – only full, long links appear indexed and counted!
Therefore, tweet and post away bit.ly links freely for the purpose of driving traffic – but if your aim is to improve pagerank, be sure to use full, un-”encrypted” long links.