The Future of the URL Shortener and All Those Links We Are Creating

Everyone is getting into the URL shortening game these days. Google, YouTube, and Facebook are just a few joining the likes of the established players such as Bit.ly. And now Microsoft is jumping in. But there’s something weird about their URL.

via Fa.il: Bing’s URL Shortener Is Longer Than Bing’s Own Domain.

Seems like every link you see these days has been shortened by one of the popular URL shorteners, such as bit.ly or tinyurl.  These services are great, especially when using a social network like Twitter where messages are limited to 140 characters.

It was inevitable that Microsoft would get in on the game, but it raises an important question.  What happens to all those links when one of these URL shortener services goes under?

I see a couple major implications:

  1. all your links old become broken
  2. any search engine optimization benefit you enjoyed would now vanish

If you are a casual user of the Internet and social media, this is probably no big deal.  But companies or individuals investing in the business of driving traffic online should beware.  The rapid proliferation of URL shorteners should be a clue that ultimately some will not survive.

And then what?

Do you use URL shorteners?  Have you considered the potential risks of handing control of your links over to a 3rd party?

Please leave a comment below or on Twitter @steinarknutsen.

Thanks,
Steinar