Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Does Open Site Explorer Recognize Social Shares that Use URL Shorteners Instead of the Direct URL?


If you use the SEOMoz.com Premium Open Site Explorer Tool like I do then you know it calculates your inbound link metrics, which includes the following social link types:
  •          Facebook Shares
  •          Facebook Likes
  •          Tweets
  •          Google +1

A lot of people think that this has something to do with their own social accounts, but that’s not correct. It actually stands for the amount of times your website was shared on Facebook, how many times a Facebook share with your URL was liked, how many times a tweet contained a link back to your site and how many Google + posts include your website URL.

That said, we were having a discussion in the Eminent SEO office yesterday about using URL shortners and how that might impact your social link counts.

For example, we like to use the social media tool Hootsuite to schedule some of our posts. However, when you schedule a post through Hootsuite, your URL is shortened using their shortner owl.ly. I was concerned that if you pass your link through a shortner URL verses posting a direct link on the platform itself you might not A) get full link juice and B) not get social share counts in the Open Site Explorer report.

I searched Google using this question, “Does open site explorer recognize social shares that use URL shorteners instead of the direct URL?” and clicked on this SEOMoz post: Owl.li Is Ranking Above My Own Page! What To Do? Whooo To Blame? which clearly isn’t my exact question, but still relevant. After (mostly) reading the post and skimming the comments, I didn’t see a solid answer. So, I asked the question in the post:

“So, I skimmed most of the comments and didn't see an answer to my question, so I hope I didn't miss something... but here goes:

Does open site explorer recognize social shares that use URL shorteners instead of the direct URL?

Of course there is value in using Hootsuite (shorter posts = longer Tweets, scheduling, etc) but if by using Hootsuite which forces me to use their URL shortener I am #1) getting diminished link credit from the 301/302 redirecting and #2) not getting social share counts to show to my client... then I might just have to stop using Hootsuite and go direct and input the whole URL.

Side note: It's really unfortunate that Hootsuite has not adapted to the Twitter auto long URL shortner (not a separate URL like bit.ly or owl.ly but like URL.com/xyz... ) as that would solve this problem altogether.”

I didn’t hear back on the post, so I actually reposted the entire comment on the Facebook Wall of SEOMoz, click here to see the full thread. 

Basically I was told that they do, indeed, “unroll” the shortened URL’s and they still count and associate the tweets correctly with the website URL, after all of the shortening and redirects are parsed.

NOTE: the redirects comment. In my quest to find out if URL shortners pass full value I did learn that some use a 301 redirect and some use (or used to use) a 302.

This might seem acceptable, but there is still the question of whether or not Google values a link that goes through a 301 redirect the same way they do a direct link. Most SEO’s would say NO they do not. A direct link is always more valuable than one that has to pass through a redirect.

What do you think?

3 comments:

Amanda Sisk said...

According to this article, a 301 redirect is no different than a direct link:


Matt Cutts: 301 Redirects Dilute PageRank Equally To Normal Links - See more at: http://www.seroundtable.com/redirects-links-pagerank-16419.html#sthash.he1CIBb0.dpuf

Unknown said...

I had exactly the same question. my website, http://hootquotes.com wasn't ranking well when it came to social shares. Now remember, one of the cardinal rules about SEO – NO redirects!

And for bit.ly specifically, Google et al do not recognize (or count them) as social shares. Avoid them (for SEO), use them (to generate direct traffic)!!!

Unknown said...

I had same same issue. My social shares for http://hootquotes.com where not counting.

This is the conclusion of the matter for now: shortened Urls do no count as shares (atleast true of bit.ly. Thus use them only to generate direct traffic, but avoid them for SEO. Sad.