Are You Using a Link Shortener?

How long are your links?

Are you using a link shortener yet for your website links and affiliate links? If not, you should be! And it’s easy to do.

You can choose to use a web-based link shortener like TinyURL, Bit.ly or ShortURL. Or, you can install the GoCodes plugin for WordPress or a free script like Shorty on your own domain and stay in control of your affiliate links. Using your own domain as the base for your short links lets you build links to your site, build your brand, and be in control of where the links are pointing to.

There are three important reasons I suggest bloggers and online business owners shorten their links.

1. They make it easier to share on social networks.

Especially on Twitter, where you only have 140 characters to share your thoughts, every character counts! A long URL can take up half of your space if you aren’t careful. By shortening the link you give yourself more room to “talk” and also make it easier for others to retweet your tweet and share it with their followers.

Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks also have limits on how many characters long each of your status updates can be. Don’t waste your space with long URLs.

2. They allow you to protect your affiliate links and update as needed.

If you promote affiliate products, you want to protect your affiliate links so that you get credit for the sales you refer to a product or service.

With a regular affiliate link, you might have something like www.somedomain.com/affiliate/link/?yourcodehere that’s easy for someone to just go direct to the domain. Worse yet, unscrupulous marketers may grab your tweet or status update from a social network and share it – but with their code in place of yours! Using a shortened link prevents someone from easily eliminating your affiliate code. Of course, they can still switch out the link completely, but why make it easy for them?

Another circumstance that shortened links you can control are good for is if you’re promoting affiliate products and your recommendation changes. If you have a link of www.yourdomain.com/bestwebhost and today you’re promoting SuperHost123, you can use your shortened link to point there. If SuperHost123 goes out of business or you find a better option at BestHost789 you can easily change your link to point to your new recommendation–and the same short link still works.

3. You can track your links to see what’s getting clicked.

Using some link shorteners gives you an easy way to track how many clicks your links are getting. With HootSuite’s link shortner, if you choose ow.ly to shorten with, you can easily access statistics on how many times your link was clicked and when. Using the GoCodes plugin for WordPress also allows you to see how many times your links have been clicked.

GoCodes -> http://wordpress.org/extend/plugins/gocodes/

Bonus, using short links also makes them easier to remember.  If I want to recommend Aweber to a friend all I have to remember is https://www.michelleshaeffer.com/go/aweber instead of my affiliate link of http://www.aweber.com/?221066

Spread the Love
  •  
    1
    Share
  • 1
  •  
  •  
  •  

8 Comments

  1. I recently started using the WP Redirection plugin. Love it! Not only did I hate the look of those long links, I hated having to run somewhere else to grab one every time I needed it. Now, I can easily remember them, change them when needed and see which ones are getting clicked right from my admin panel.
    Angie – The Work at Home Wife recently posted… The Best Marketers to FollowMy Profile

    1. It’s so convenient when it’s right there in the admin panel. :)

  2. Michelle,

    This is great advice. It’s definitely helpful information for a new blogger like me! Thanks for sharing.

    Chris
    Christian Paulsen recently posted… The 2nd of the 5 S’s – Set Limits &amp LocationsMy Profile

  3. Hey Michelle,
    Thanks for the reminder about the Hootsuite tracking option. I had forgotten about that.

    Is there ever an advantage to not shortening a link? For example, if I’m sending a tweet about something on my own site, it seems like I would want my full domain name in the tweet for the inbound link, but also for brand recognition.

    I’m curious to know your opinion.
    Nina!

    1. My two cents – it depends. If you’re using a shortener that keeps the link on your domain then you still get the advantage of the branding. :) Most of the time what I want to say on Twitter is too long to use a link that includes my domain and it’s more important to me to get my call to action or specific text in there to get people to click through than it is to get my domain included. I’d imagine there could be exceptions to that though.

      One time I don’t recommend using bit.ly, tinyurl, snipurl, etc is in emails – often those domains get on blacklists and our emails won’t successfully get through to the recipients if we use those short link services.

  4. Michelle,
    thank you for the nice roundup of link shorteners and their benefits. I started with bit.ly but now use su.pr because you can post to Twitter and/or Facebook, schedule tweets, view stats, and get the bonus of having your links submitted to StumbleUpon’s vast repository of blog articles which offers another location for the content to be discovered. I wonder if anyone has complaints, though, about the StumbleUpon toolbar that appears at the top edge of each page that is clicked on through su.pr. The bar allows the user to click STUMBLE to find new content. The benefit is that viewers can find articles that they otherwise wouldn’t have searched for, but the negative is that they could land on a page that is definitely not their taste. Have you heard any feedback on that?
    Thanks for your input,
    -natalie

    1. I haven’t but I’ll definitely take a look at su.pr I am a fan of StumbleUpon and have their toolbar installed in my browser. :) Once in a while I get randomly strange pages but I usually just laugh and click the stumble button again. I’ve found so many cool websites through it.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge