URL shortening sites: Clash of the tighteners

Convenient, sure, but do they undermine your SEO efforts?

Amid the rapid rise of Twitter and other microblogging avenues, it appears that URL shorteners have made everyone’s short list of useful utilities.

They seem too good to be true. They banish long and indecipherable Web addresses. They make your tweets more tweetable. Twitter consoles such as Twhirl and Tweetdeck have shorteners built in, thus reducing the time it takes to shrink a URL.

But as you casually go about your tweeting, URL-shortening day, you well may wonder about the implications of sharing links in this way. After all, links are the connective tissue, the fabric of the Web. Search engine algorithms analyze links to help determine page relevance and Web site authority.

More and more people find content from links shared via Twitter and other social networks. This method of content discovery is starting to give search engines a real run for the money.

Before you shorten that next URL, it seems reasonable to consider the following questions: Is there a downside to using URL shorteners? Do they adversely impact SEO? Are some URL shorteners better than others? And is there a danger that they will stop working at some point, making your legacy links useless?

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