How TinyURL works and impact on SEO

Websites like TinyURL allow you to shorten long URL’s into short ones. For instance, you might be reading a post on our blog that has a long URL, such as http://www.web1marketing.com/blog/index.php/archives/international-seo-subdomains-or-folders/. This can cause problems in email and will take up all of your message room in text messages or Twitter. TinyURL converts this into a much shorter URL, like this: http://tinyurl.com/67lwfe. This link will take you to the same place, but it’s much easier to share.

How does this service work? What’s actually happening behind the scenes? In particular, does the technical implementation hinder SEO efforts that use such links?

Using Rex Swain’s terrific HTTP Viewer, we can how the TinyURL server responds.

HTTP/1.1·301·Moved·Permanently(CR)(LF)
Connection:·close(CR)(LF)
Location:·http://www.web1marketing.com/blog/index.php/archives/international-seo-subdomains-or-folders/(CR)(LF)
Content-type:·text/html(CR)(LF)
Content-Length:·0(CR)(LF)
Date:·Thu,·18·Dec·2008·18:55:34·GMT(CR)(LF)
Server:·TinyURL/1.6(CR)(LF)
(CR)(LF)

TinyURL uses a 301 Redirect to translate their constructed URL to the intended one. This means that any links to the TinyURL should be interpreted as pointing toward the target URL, preserving most or all of the “link credit” of those links.

Other services like Zi.ma and u.mavrev.com also use 301 redirects. BudURL uses a 307 redirect. We don’t know how search engines treat 307 redirects with respect to passing page rank, and we thus advise using 301-based URL shortening services.

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9 Responses to “How TinyURL works and impact on SEO”

  1. Josh Freedman Says:

    Bit.ly now uses 301 redirects. A look at bit.ly shows that it uses 302 redirects, which is “supposed” to be “temporary.” We advise staying away from bit.ly for SEO reasons because a 302 tells search engines that it could move somewhere else at some other time. In other words, the page that specifies the 302 could revoke it or point it somewhere else, and search engines will comply. 301′s are vastly preferred.

  2. Ian Says:

    Great info. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Nathan Folkman Says:

    Hi,

    bit.ly currently also returns a 301 redirect for all hashes generated:

    Connected to bit.ly.
    Escape character is ‘^]’.
    GET /pkPM HTTP/1.0

    HTTP/1.1 301 Moved Permanently

  4. Josh Freedman Says:

    http://is.gd/ uses a 301 redirect.

  5. Think before you shrink « Writer Way Says:

    [...] Think before you shrink Jump to Comments Web 1 Marketing has a great post on how shrinking a URL (using services such as TinyURL or BudURL) works and how it affects SEO. Turns out there are two different types of redirects at work, and one is preferable to the other. If you are shrinking URLs for SEO work, you’ll want to check this out. [...]

  6. Josh Says:

    Danny Sullivan does a nice comparison at http://searchengineland.com/analysis-which-url-shortening-service-should-you-use-17204.

  7. Greg Sneden Says:

    Awesome info Josh! Anyone know what kind of redirect tr.im uses?

  8. Josh Says:

    Tr.im uses a 301 redirect.

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