Google Clarifies URL Shortening’s Impact on SEO

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URL shorteners have become more and more prominent in recent years, with the four character “” hitting the scene alongside established shortening services like “” and “” The increased prominence of these shorteners is associated with the rise of the social web, and most especially micro-blogging services like Twitter. This wasn’t a huge issue for search engine optimizers, though, since Twitter and other social data was almost entirely disregarded by search sites – until recently.

As social search has become more important, so has understanding how SEO works for shared links. In a new Google Webmaster Help video, Google’s Matt Cutts explains exactly how the shortened URLs are treated. Cutts states that almost all shorteners are going to use a “301 permanent redirect” to move the page to the appropriate destination, and that Google will treat any links to that 301 redirect as being a link – for the sake of pagerank – to the destination. That destination page will also receive the “social promotion” bump for any friends/followers of the original tweeter.

Additionally, any other SEO data (such as anchor text, position on the page, and so forth) will be passed on. Cutts is quick to remind us, though, that a lot of additional rules apply in the world of social search. For one, most core pages on sites like Twitter have nofollow tags on any outgoing links. That doesn’t mean that the links are irrelevant, though. Beyond Google’s own social promotion, Cutts states that the links may be found in other pages – such as data feeds – where they will pass on link juice.

[via Google Webmaster Help Channel]

Rob D Young
Rob has been insatiably obsessed with Google, search engine technology, and the trends of the web-based world since he began life as a webmaster in... Read Full Bio
Rob D Young

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  • alexander zagoumenov

    Rob! Thanks for the update, this is great to know. I was actually debating about it with a colleague the other day. Glad to know that short URLs pass Google Juice!

  • tannerc

    The most interesting part of this article, I think, is the last statement about social links not originally having any SEO value, but by being fed into off-site feeds they then produce value. Interesting for anyone who thought that third-party feeders were valueless content suckers.

  • Mark

    Rob great post ! Great to know that Google has started giving some importance to shorten URLs.

  • Glenn

    Thanks for the update. 301 redirects are the most powerful way do this. Cutts says that anchor text should “flow” through the redirect (previous video on 301 redirects) altho he (as always) says Google can’t ‘guarantee’ anything 🙂

  • Travelideas

    Thanks Rob, great post

  • Antoni

    Good to know Rob that shortened urls are ok, I had my doubts. Thanks for your post.