I read this article on Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: Tiny URL, Big Trouble. And it came at an interesting time for me, because I had just received an editorial reminder from About.com that we're not supposed to use URL shorteners like TinyURL and others. This has been a rule for us for 4 or 5 years. About's primary reason for opposing them is because it puts your site at risk - if the URL shortener site goes down for any reason, your links on that site go down too. Since it's hard enough to manage large catalogs of external links, there is no reason to add to the trouble by adding in a 3rd party.
Other reasons that URL shorteners might be a problem include:
- They get information on your click through rates. Every time someone clicks a TinyURL on your site, the people at TinyURL get information that could be valuable.
- You lose SEO opportunities with the TinyURL. The URL has clues in it that search engines can read, but the URL shortener removes that information. Plus, those search engines that use link tracking as a way to improve weight might not realize that the TinyURL is the same page as the full URL and so you don't get the credit.
- It can confuse readers or at least cause some distrust. There are so many phishing schemes out there now, and one of the only ways to know if a link is valid is to mouse over it and check where it's going to take you. If it's going to take you to TinyURL, you don't know where you'll end up.