Have you ever noticed a shortened link posted on Twitter, Facebook or other sites and thought to yourself: Where the heck does this link go? If so, join millions of people throughout the world. Link shortening is an excellent way to (as the name suggests) shorten links, though there are a few inherent flaws with the system.
My research suggests that “clickers” of shortened links are often duped into believing the links are from reputable, accurate sources when in fact this isn’t always the case. New booties hide their sites with shortened URLs, thus masking their brand (or lack thereof), and popular sites with shortened URLs lose credibility by not being able to transparently display links to their content. While looking for local L.A. news, if one were to see two shortened URLs side-by-side, the link chosen is based on fate, not branding. On the other hand, if the same person were to see a link pointing to LAtimes.com and another pointing to ShmohawksLocalNews.com, they would almost always go to LAtimes.com.
For example, you may see a BBQ recipe posted on Twitter with a shortened link and, for all you know prior to clicking the link, the recipe is tasty, accurate and will produce some fine BBQ. You click the link and notice that you have been taken to a retirement home website and Aunt Sally who has never used a BBQ is doing a trial run for her Bingo competition. Guess what? You got suckered into clicking a link that ultimately was not too helpful. On the flip side, if the shortened link took you to a Food Network BBQ recipe, you wouldn’t think twice about using it. The point is, if people know where they are being taken before clicking a link they will either be less likely, or more likely, to perform such an action.
In conclusion, before shortening a URL ask yourself two questions:
1) Do I actually need to shorten this URL?
2) Will shortening this URL help or hurt me?
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The Brainchild Group
Aaron Schoenberger is Founder of The Brainchild Group — a leading online advertising agency that specializes in strategic SEO and Social Media consulting. He’s known for his work with celebrity clients, top restaurants, professional athletes and Fortune 500 companies. Feel free to Contact Us for more information.