URL Shorteners & Google Analytics: Do They Hurt SEO?
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For people who use Google Analytics to track links, URL shorteners can be difficult to opt for.
This is because many digital marketers, brands and entrepreneurs feel that you can’t use Google Analytics with link shorteners.
However, this is entirely a misconception and you should not be discouraged from using URL shorteners if you want to use Google Analytics.
In this post, we will discuss:
- How to track the performance of a shortened URL with Google Analytics
- How to add UTM tags with Pixelfy
- Whether or not URL shorteners hurt SEO
And a whole lot more.
So without further ado, let’s get started.
How to Track the Performance of a Shortened URL with Google Analytics?
To understand tracking with Google Analytics, you must familiarize yourself with UTM tracking.
UTM stands for Urchin Tracking Modules. These are unique codes that you add to your link to identify certain aspects of the traffic on that particular link. This adds a whole lot more specificity to your visitor data and it can be tracked with tools like Google Analytics.
The number of different types of UTM codes you can add to a link are endless. However, the common UTM codes that most brands use are:
- Utm_source: Tracks which platform the traffic came from, e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
- Utm_medium: Identifies what type of traffic it is, e.g., organic, paid, referral, etc.
- Utm_campaign: Identifies which specific marketing campaign efforts of yours resulted in the traffic on the link.
While these are just some basic examples, we mentioned earlier how there’s really no limit to the UTM codes you can use to identify specific characteristics.
How to Build UTMs?
Naturally, it would take a lot of time and effort to build all of these UTM tags manually. That’s why we have UTM builders widely available online such as utm.io.
Services such as these allow you to easily generate UTM parameters that you can then use within your links. All you must do is enter the relevant parameter that you’d like to track and the UTM builder will do the rest.
UTMs can be one-offs or long-term.
Long-term UTM tags are designed to track the performance of particular campaigns. They often allow you to monitor if things are not going according to plan. This allows you to correct your approach on the fly so that your marketing campaign does not fail.
Can You Use UTM Tags with URL Shorteners?
This is the age-old question that has scared away many enterprising individuals from URL shorteners. Many people still refuse to use URL shorteners for this very reason. It’s surprising because the truth is that you can easily use UTM tags with URL shorteners.
In fact, most mainstream URL shorteners, such as Pixelfy, even have integration and customization options for your UTM parameters.
All you have to do is build your UTM parameters as usual and add them to your original URL.
Once that’s done, you can go ahead and use a URL shortener to shorten the URL.
You can now use the shortened URL and the UTM tags will still work. You can still track its performance with tools such as Google Analytics.
How to Add UTM Tags with Pixelfy?
We mentioned earlier how URL shorteners such as Pixelfy can actually allow you to add UTM tags to the original URL.
Then, after you get the shortened URL, those UTM tags will still be active. Thus, you can still utilize tools like Google Analytics to look up performance metrics for the shortened link.
Follow the steps below to add UTM tags with Pixelfy:
Step 1: Log into your account on Pixelfy and look to the left-hand side toolbar.
Step 2: Click on “All tools” in the toolbar and then, select URL Shortener.
Step 3: To add a UTM tag to your shortened link, of course, you need to have the shortened link first.
Thus, add the original URL into the URL shortener and provide it with a link title as well.
Step 4: After you have your shortened link, go to Advanced options and turn UTM tags on as shown below.
Once you enable UTM tags, you can add certain UTM parameters. The three that are essential are the ones that we discussed above as well:
- UTM Source
- UTM Medium
- UTM Campaign
You also have two other options for UTM tags: UTM Campaign Term and UTM Campaign Content. These two UTM tags are optional.
Step 5: Once you add these UTM tags, you can look at the generated long URL. It will have all the UTM parameters that you described added into it as shown:
Once this is done, you can continue to use the shortened URL within all of your marketing content or wherever it is you want to use it.
You can monitor the traffic and sort it neatly using the Google Analytics dashboard.
Do URL Shorteners Hurt SEO?
This is actually a misconception that became extremely popular when URL shorteners were bursting onto the digital scene.
Here’s the logic behind why people thought URL shorteners hurt SEO:
URL shorteners work by essentially creating shorter links which are 301 redirects to the original URL.
Many people thought that the use of such shortened URL redirects would hurt their website’s SEO. The reason they gave for this was that search engines would not index them properly.
Thus, any traffic that is brought to your website as a result of these shortened links would not count towards its overall popularity or authority.
While this was the widely held belief in the late 2000s and early 2010s, it has since been debunked by SEO experts such as Matt Cutts and Google itself.
Matt Cutts explicitly stated that when Google runs into a 301 redirect (which could be a shortened URL), it will pass PageRank (Google’s algorithm). Thus, Google will crawl through the web page that that link leads to.
Hence, it has been conclusively proven by experts that URL shorteners do not hurt SEO.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
How to Make URL Links Shorter?
You can make URL links shorter by using a URL shortener.
There are many free and paid URL shorteners available online such as Pixelfy that you can use to shorten links.
Why Should I Use a URL Shortener?
There are a number of different reasons why one would want to use a URL shortener.
Most obviously, shorter links look much neater and tidier. Thus, this also makes them much easier to remember.
If you use custom URL shorteners, you can choose what the shortened URL looks like. This gives you the opportunity to include your branding within your shortened links. Thus, it’s a great way to strengthen your brand image.
What is a Tracking URL?
A tracking URL allows users to identify where traffic is coming from. Thus, it’s a powerful tool utilized by brands to understand what types of audiences are interested in them.
You can use the data gathered from such tracking URLs to create unique customer personas. Next, you can use these personas to make personalized ad campaigns that resonate better with those particular demographics.
How do URL Shorteners Work?
URL shorteners create a much shorter link that is essentially a 301 redirect link.
What does it redirect to? Well, it redirects to the same website that you entered as an input URL.
How do I Use Google Analytics to Improve SEO?
Google Analytics, when combined with UTM parameters, can provide you with very specific data regarding your website’s visitors.
You can use this data to:
- Identify key target demographics
- Identify their interests
- Track visitor bounce rates and when most of them occur
- Build customer personas
- Craft more personalized marketing campaigns that target said demographics
- Set SEO-relevant goals with the Google Analytics dashboard
And a whole lot more.
Google Analytics has always been a very important tool for any individual or brand that wants to be easily discoverable online.
It’s good to know that you can still utilize the power of URL shorteners without having to forgo the use of Google Analytics. As explored throughout this post, you can easily use URL shorteners without worrying about Google Analytics not working properly.
Let us know what you think in the comments below.