Twitter Gets Its Own URL Shortener To Stop Scams; Good Marketers Need Not Fear

Twitter has just announced that to protect people from scams, links in direct messages and sent via email will be shortened using its own URL shortener. It’s a welcome move. Still, I was curious about any impacts this might have for good marketers who are not trying to scam people. Good news, on that front.

To test things, I sent myself two direct messages from the @smx account that I oversee to my personal account at @dannysullivan. The messages had these links in them:

When these links arrived as direct messages, as viewed through the Twitter site, they were unchanged. Nothing had been altered. My understanding is that links WILL change in direct messages in the near future, however.

When Twitter emailed me these messages, the links within them had been shortened as follows:

From a marketing perspective, I wondered whether Twitter was stripping out my own URL shortening entirely. If so, I potentially lost important tracking information as well as link credit.

For example, let’s take the first URL from Search Engine Land that I had DMed to myself:

We use the Pro service so that if anyone shortens our pages through, the URL should make use of our own domain. And that’s what happened with the second URL  that I DMed myself. It was the “short” version of that “math engines” article:

So when Twitter “shortened” that already shortened URL, was anything lost? No.

Doing a quick check, here’s what happens:

does a 301 permanent redirect to:

which does a 301 permanent redirect to:

That’s all good. As a marketer, I don’t lose my own tracking. From an SEO perspective, no link juice is lost. And for users, as Twitter points out, it can effectively stop any abusive URLs dead since it never “broadcasts” the “real” URLs that can be harmful:

By routing all links submitted to Twitter through this new service, we can detect, intercept, and prevent the spread of bad links across all of Twitter. Even if a bad link is already sent out in an email notification and somebody clicks on it, we’ll be able keep that user safe.

Moreover, there’s really little reason for marketers to be worrying about tracking links from direct messages or getting link juice from them. To me, if you’re hitting lots of people with links through direct messages, you’re probably on the bad side of marketing already. As for link juice, direct messages are generally private messages that aren’t going to be shared on public web pages, where links may count.

But what if this system moves to be used by Twitter for all links that are tweeted, including those public ones? That’s not the case now, and the “focus” is only on filtering in email and direct messages, since that’s where most attacks happen, Twitter says. But it could go broader.

If so, as long as things work as they already are, there’s nothing to worry about as a marketer. If you use a shortener for tracking purposes, that will still work. And whether you shorten or not, all your link credit passes along to you, even through Twitter’s own shortener.

For more about tracking and link credit issues indepth, see these past posts from us:

For related news, see Techmeme.

Related Topics: Channel: Social | Top News | Twitter


About The Author: is a Founding Editor of Search Engine Land. He’s a widely cited authority on search engines and search marketing issues who has covered the space since 1996. Danny also serves as Chief Content Officer for Third Door Media, which publishes Search Engine Land and produces the SMX: Search Marketing Expo conference series. He has a personal blog called Daggle (and keeps his disclosures page there). He can be found on Facebook, Google + and microblogs on Twitter as @dannysullivan.

Connect with the author via: Email | Twitter | Google+ | LinkedIn


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  • http://incrediblehelp incrediblehelp

    Been asking this for some time now. I wish we could shorten the URLs during message creation. Now that would make some sense.

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