Question from Kevin: For a while now I’ve been using Bitly to shorten my blog post URLs before I post them on Twitter and LinkedIn so I can track the clicks on them.
Yesterday I heard that using a URL shortener can cause a website to rank lower in the search engines.
Is that true? If it is true how can I get all the Bitly links removed from Twitter and LinkedIn?
I’m asking because my blog’s Google rankings took a nosedive a few months back. Do you think Google is penalizing my blog for using Bitly?
Rick’s answer: Hi Kevin. The short answer to your question is no, I don’t believe your blog’s Google rankings are being lowered because you’re using Bitly to shorten your links. Therefore, I recommend leaving your Bitly links just as they are.
Google representatives have stated on several occasions that their ranking algorithm treats shortened URLs as 301 permanent redirects, and those types of redirects are not penalized in any way by the algorithm.
In fact, Google encourages the use of 301 redirects in situations that call for redirecting one URL to another (which is exactly what Bitly and other reputable link shortening services do).
Bottom line: I believe you need to look for other possible causes for your blog’s drop in the Google search rankings.
Google’s ranking criteria change on an almost constant basis, and a significant change in even one ranking factor can cause a site to rise or fall in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).
While they might be totally unrelated to your blog’s current ranking issues, here are three things you need to be aware of:
1 – Mobile-friendly blogs are now given preference in Google’s search results over blogs that aren’t mobile friendly.
2 – Page-load speed is now an important ranking factor (all other things being equal, the pages that load fastest will be ranked higher in Google’s search results than slower loading pages).
3 – Having TLS encryption enabled on your blog is now more or less mandatory if don’t want to see your blog’s traffic take a nose-dive.
I hope this helps Kevin. Good luck!
Bonus tip #1: You can keep up with what’s happening with Google’s algorithm by reading the Google SEO News forum over at Webmasterworld. Reading the threads that are posted there on a daily basis can help you pinpoint the possible reasons for a site’s sudden drop in the SERPS.
Since a single algorithm change typically affects thousands of websites, you will almost always find a thread at Webmasterworld that’s discussing possible causes for a common sudden drop in the SERPS.
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