Stop Using Link Shorteners

Stop Obscuring Your Brand

We are at the end of 2016 and this is my free tip to everyone – a repeat one to be exact. If you want to share a URL (from your blog or website perhaps) and your workflow involves using a link shortening service (such as Bit.ly, Ow.ly or another) – STOP.

I've written about this topic already, but it's time to be blunt for your brand's own good.

You are trying to increase reach, but obscuring your URLs behind a generic shortened one won't help.

Did you know that Twitter no longer counts URLs as part of your 140 character limit these days?

But what about tracking my clicks?

What's more important:

  1. Tracking your potential clicks?
  2. Getting people to actually click on your links?

Let me share with you two tweets I came across this morning:

@kentcdodds FWIW, my (and presumably other) corporate networks block most link shorteners, even when the target url isn’t blocked. ~ via @keithjgrant

Avoid using link shorteners that shrink the URLs in your emails. Those are indicative of spam email. #MastersMktg ~ via @InsWebBuilder

Link shortening services had their day. The reality is that we live at a time when it's the new norm to hear about 1 billion hacked accounts from Yahoo! – again. Many people are learning the hard way to become savvier with their online clicking habits. You can no longer expect people to trust your shortened obscured links when cybersecurity is becoming a regular topic.

Yes, there are ways to see the final destination of a shortened link before actually clicking on it, but there is one thing you can rely on. If you add an extra layer of action for your links, people will just go elsewhere, without a click or tap for you.

Even when a service claims to test links for security, it's an uphill battle that is often lost – just as adtech has learned.

Yes, there are still folks around who will click on shortened URLs without a worry, but the point is that they will dwindle in number.

UX is about improving an experience and eliminating friction whenever possible. Good UX actually drives so many metrics behind the scenes that it should be a regular part of your business plan's optics.

In short, if you want to improve UX for one area right now, then stop using link (URL) shorteners today.

By allowing users to see your destination URL (in most cases, the top-level-domain will be visible even if the end part of the URL is visually truncated), you are showing that you care about your brand, current customers and future ones.

That's an A for branding effort.

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