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3 Ways Google's New Shortener Might Affect SEO & Search

Danny Goodwin
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Touting it's stability, security, and speed, Google fully launched it's URL shortener, goo.gl, yesterday. First introduced last December, the new website turns long URLs into short URLs (e.g., http://blog.searchenginewatch.com/100930-143738 becomes goo.gl/p7th), a popular way of sharing links on social media sites like Twitter.

So how might goo.gl influence SEO, search, and even Google's algorithm?

Effect on SEO

From a link building perspective, Google's Matt Cutts said that the shortener uses a 301 (permanently moved) to redirect to the destination URL. So, simply the act of sharing a link on social networks and the resulting click-throughs could carry benefits for the downstream website.

Goo.gl could work into Google's ranking algorithm and become a factor in real-time search results, and possibly even regular search results if the shortener proves popular. With all this data on what links are being shared and clicked, Google can see what's trending, and likely use this as a ranking factor.

By examining posts on social sites, Google could analyze the content, analyze the destination site, and assess the volume of traffic sent to that site for that topic over time across multiple mentions. So where before it was about anchor text, Google can now potentially identify trends based on sharing and use it as part of their ranking algorithm.

Redefining PageRank

PageRank via links used to be the social graph of Google. Every link was essentially a "vote" for a website.

With the rise of social media (walled gardens) and more advanced and complex web sites (semi-automated), PageRank as a method to 'count votes' has been devalued. A link equity passing URL shortener to use in social networks would, in theory, restore the ability to index the web socially, as first intended.

When PageRank was introduced, it basically rewarded content creators (websites and blogs). However, only roughly 10 percent of the web is made up of content creators. That left 90 percent of web users out.

But now, suddenly people don't need to have a website or blog to create a link and cast a "vote" for good content they want to share with their audience. They can vote by sharing links on their favorite social network or via e-mail.

This could also help Google figure out who the "influencers" are, allowing them to better rank their social indexes. Google recently acquired a patent that suggests they might be using authorship as an authority signal so, in the future, there may possibly be a situation where influential people could pass higher voting power.

Demographic Mining

Public, real-time analytics data will be available to you when you're signed into your Google account. So while this will give you a historical list of URLs you've shortened, with some basic info, such as traffic over time, referrers, and visitor profiles (by country, browser and platform), this will also give Google some valuable demographic data.

While many are comparing the shortener to other URL shorteners like bit.ly, perhaps a better comparison is Facebook's Like button. While users are shortening a URL, Google will be tracking information from their Google account. Essentially, the URL shortener will be a "vote" (or Like) that's passed along with some valuable demographic information when Google users are signed in.

No doubt, we'll have much more coverage of goo.gl in coming days. What are your thoughts?


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