If you’re familiar with tweeting (on twitter) or posting updates on other platforms where you have limited character space, then you’re probably already familiar with the benefits of a URL shortener, but in case you haven’t used the Google URL shortener tool yet, here’s an overview of how it works and why I (sometimes) use it:
The first benefit I take advantage of is the fact that I can turn a crazy long URL into something very short. For users who write posts, like say on WordPress, you can easily end up with very long URLs for your post. Take this example: http://www.mydomain.com/2-great-reasons-use-google-url-shortener-tool-posting-tweets-profile-updates-linkedin-company-pages/ can be shorted to something like this: http://goo.gl/syiS04 (this is to a non-existent page) so that I don’t end up wasting too many characters in my tweet. The direct benefit is around being able to use better text content to encourage engagement or conversion that the URL might provide.
The second advantage of the shortened URL is that if I have to place the URL somewhere where it may have to be typed in manually, I probably have a better chance of getting the user to actually bother writing in the URL to visit it. You might find some examples of this in printed marketing collateral like flyers or posters. It could be in conjunction with a QR code which does a similar thing for is only readable by devices with a camera and decoder application.
You can also get rid of ‘ugly’ or coded URLs using the shortener too, because not all page URLs are as easy to read as the long example above. The URL might contain a code of apparently random characters or may have a campaign code tagged at the end for signalling to Google Analytics. In this case, you’re getting rid of apparent traces in the URL of data that is useful to you, but not your user. For tagged URLs, don’t worry, you will get your Google Analytics tags added in the landing page URL so you still get your campaign data despite the shortener.
I sometimes use the shortener for SEO purposes, because it’s not ideal to use commercially relevant words in the anchor text for all of your links. This is because Google has discovered that it’s ‘normal’ for a website to have no more than about 5-10% of their links from commercial anchors like ‘Auckland plumbers’. More often these are signalled as a ‘click here’ or ‘read more’ style anchor text instead which have no commercial relevance to the user or the search engine. Google may penalise websites that use an unusually high number of commercially relevant link anchors because they may see this as a spam technique. Where this is also useful is when your anchor text (like ‘click here’) might not be as obvious as a link as say ‘http://goo.gl/syiS04’ which does look like a web address link to most people.
Find the tool here: https://goo.gl