As an affiliate marketer, you want to know if link shortening is safe to use? What are the pros and cons of using them? Also, when should someone use a link shortening service?
There is a risk to using link shortening services, due to some people not trusting the link. If the link shortening service goes down, your links will also suffer. Link shortening can also hurt your branding.
These types of services are not all equal and some are better than others. Keep reading and I’ll share some of the good things that can come from using link shortening.
I’ll share when you want to use them and what service should be used. Plus I’ll talk about how you can get the benefits without the dangers.
Dangers to Link Shortening Services
When you see a link shortening service such as bitly.com or TinyURL you don’t know where the link will take you.
Sure, the content should tell you where the link will take you, but you don’t know. The reason you don’t know is that the domain is hidden.
All the trust from the link comes from the trust in the person who created the content. This in itself can be a big disadvantage to using them.
Not only do some people not trust link shortening services, but some domains don’t trust them as well. This is due to some people spamming links using shortening services.
Facebook messenger does not allow any type of link shortening on its platform. There is a way to get around this, but it’s a disadvantage to using shortened links.
Another disadvantage is with the redirects that are associated with shortening a link.
This all leads to more of a chance of something going wrong and slowing down the user experience. Maybe their server, hosting, or domain goes down.
Since the link goes through this middle person, your link goes down as well. Yes, there is the risk of using this service.
Also, what if the service is hacked and all links are now being redirected to a harmful website? Lastly, link shortening has gotten a bad reputation ever since some scammers use them for fishing emails.
The link looks very similar to the legitimate link but sends the user to a sign-in page. You can create a similar-looking link by using a shortening service.
The user thinks they are signing into Facebook for example. Instead, they are giving up their username and password that the hacker can use.
There was a story about how the Democratic National Committee (DNC) was hacked by using link shortening in an email. You can view this story with the link HERE.
Another danger to using link shortening has to do with your branding. Say you are shortening a link on Twitter. When someone sees the shortening link it could say Bitly or some other combination. They will remember Bitly NOT your domain name.
Oh, and Twitter really doesn’t like Bitly!
This can help with Bitly’s brand but doesn’t help your brand. The reason why branding can help your business is that it can help gain trust, recognition, and most importantly advertises YOUR business.
The more you advertise your business the better off you will be.
Advantages to using a Link Shortening Service
The largest advantage to using a link shortening service is it makes your link look much better. Some links can be HUGE.
I think this might win the award for the ugliest link.
Yea, the link is intimidating, right?
Instead, the link could look like http://bit.ly/2j6AycH. Big links just look ugly and nobody likes them.
Shortened links improve the user experience and this is a MAJOR advantage to using them. The less clutter on a computer screen the better it is. It’s just like your home right? You want less clutter.
Another advantage that some people don’t think about is it can be easier to copy and paste a link due to it being shorter.
Another very large advantage to shortening a link is that it can fit in a Tweet with Twitter.
Twitter only allows 280 characters. The shorter your link is within Twitter the better off you will be. Twitter was the main reason I used this type of service.
The third very large advantage of using link shortening is due to tracking.
Yea, many of these services allow you to track how often a link is clicked and it can easily present the data to understand. Just look at how simple this looks.
Oh, and who can forget about using shortening to promote affiliate offers. Yea, it can reduce the time you spend changing links as you only need to update links once.
Some link shortening services allow you to do this such as Pretty Links and Bitly.
Imagine if you’re making Youtube videos and you are promoting an affiliate product in your videos. Then you find something similar but is better you can change all the links from the old product to the new one.
You wouldn’t need to go through every single video to change the link. You would just need to change 1 link.
Get the Advantages without the Dangers
One way you can get all the advantages to shortened links without the dangers is to use Pretty Links. Pretty Links is a WordPress plugin and there is a free and paid version. For most people, the free version works just fine.
What is very cool about pretty links is that it enables you to create a link that looks good and is brandable to your domain name.
Here is an example of Richard Branson Tweeting the link of a Pretty Link. Notice how short it is and you know it’s from his company?
This way you can make an ugly link much shorter and you can track who clicks the link and from where. The link also comes from your domain. This means there is less chance of something going wrong.
The one disadvantage to using pretty links is you need to own a domain name and have WordPress installed.
Best Way to Use Link Shortening
As you can see there are advantages and disadvantages to using link shortening. The greatest advantage to shortening a link is with using Twitter.
Twitter has been amazing for me when it comes to internet traffic. I’ve gotten lots of new visitors to my website, Youtube videos, and affiliate links.
You can view a very fun way to use Twitter to grow an online business by clicking on the link HERE.
It’s very hard to use Twitter without shortening a link. This is the #1 way to use link shortening.
In case you don’t know any link you post in a Tweet is automatically shortened with Twitter’s own link shortening service called T.Co.
You can still use Bitly or Pretty Links to track the analytics of a link. There is no known way to not use Twitter’s link shortening service.
URLs converted by Twitter are checked against dangerous websites and if there is a red flag the user will be informed.
I still use Pretty Links with Twitter, so I can see who is clicking the links I post and to know what is working and what is not working.
Seeing who is clicking on a link is the best way to use link shortening. I do think Pretty Links is much better than Bitly. If you don’t own a domain name and have WordPress installed you can still use Bitly, but there are more risks involved with it.
I also think it’s a great idea to put Pretty Links on your website. You can track who clicks on a link and this includes an affiliate link.
Tips on Using Pretty Links
When it comes to Pretty links there are 3 options when creating a link.
307 Temporary link
302 Temporary link
301 Permanent link
You would use a 302 and 307 Temporary link if it is still an active link that someone would be using. A 301 Permanent link is used when it’s not used anymore and the new link is the official one.
Another great idea for using Pretty Links is to use them on your social media profile biography. The biography is prime real estate, so putting a branded link that directs someone to an opt-in form is a wonderful idea.
The best tip when using Pretty Links is to stick to the Free version for as long as possible. The paid version does have some nice features, but they are NOT needed.
You only want to think about upgrading when you’re making good money and you have LOTS of links.
Pretty Links Paid Features
You might be wondering why someone would use the paid version of Pretty Links. There are a lot of nifty things you can do with a link when you upgrade to the paid version. Here are a few things you can do.
- Make Links Expire
You can have the ability to make a link expire and a certain time or date. This can help you when creating urgency when marketing a product or service.
Also, you can redirect someone to another URL when the first one was expired.
- Pretty Bar
A Pretty bar makes you create a permanent banner at the of your pages if someone has visited one of your pages.
- Cloaked Links
Just as the name implies cloaked links allow you to turn an affiliate link into a normal link. Therefore someone doesn’t know it’s an affiliate link.
You can also use them to cloak another website link if you want. I’m not a big fan of this feature, because I think transparency and honesty are good for your brand, but you can do this.
Pixel tracking is mostly used with email marketing. You can track how many people open your email with the feature. You can also use them for other things such as tracking website views.
This is just a different way to do 301, 302, and 307 redirects.
- Other Features
The paid version does have even more features. One is you can redirect a visitor to your link based on geography and randomly.
You can use the random feature to test different landing pages. Oh, and you can even redirect someone based on the time they clicked on your link.
Plus the paid version gives you more tools such as custom link reports and you can categories your links.
I hope this post on is link shortening safe was helpful to you. Have a nice day.