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There is a certain part of my blog (part of my homepage) that contains shortened urls to external pages.

If I don't add the rel="nofollow" property to those links, can they hurt the SEO of my page?

I read a few articles here, but as I understood, all of them were focused on the impact of the incoming shortened urls to a website. I'm interested to know if short urls to other websites can hurt the ranking of my homepage?

  • Should not mater at all. Not for outbound links. – closetnoc Aug 25 '14 at 23:16
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Using URL shortener's has the same effect as a 301 redirect, so you really aren't hurting your SEO efforts. So you may lose a little link juice if outbound links are created using the shortened URLS, but you have to draw the line between UX and 10% lost link juice.

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  • But, in conclusion, it would be better if those links were nofollow? – idjuradj Aug 26 '14 at 0:36
  • Relevant outbound links help SEO regardless of nofollow or follow, non-relevant links or links that you wouldn't want to associate your site with then nofollow would be suitable. – Simon Hayter Aug 26 '14 at 7:38
  • *If you have a good urlshortener, they'll use 301. – Martijn Aug 26 '14 at 9:36
  • Also, please add a source about your 10% claim :) – Martijn Aug 26 '14 at 9:37
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The URLs you add into your content, transfer some of the the value of your page to these URLs. But this happens if you are using the original URL. URL shortner destroy this effect. If you want that none of the value of your page transfer to these pages, you can set these URLs to nofollow or use URL shortners. Shortening the URL also minimize the risk to value transfer, but the best thing is to set them nofollow.

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If I don't add the rel="nofollow" property to those links, can they hurt the seo of my page?

If the target pages are spammy, then it may hurt your SEO if you don't set nofollow. Otherwise, if those pages are of quality, setting nofollow is a missed opportunity to rank a little more.

The fact that you use short URLs has no impact on SEO, with one caveat: if the service providing the short urls goes out of business, then the links may become broken, and that will have an impact on user experience, and ultimately on your SEO.

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  • Interesting. I'd like to see a reference for this: "if those pages are of quality, setting nofollow may have a very slight negative impact on your SEO" – kqw Aug 27 '14 at 13:33
  • Moz's correlation analysis of 2013 found that successful websites have a 0.04 correlation with # of External Links on Page. Ok, I agree I should have talked about a missed opportunity. I am updating the answer. – Jérôme Verstrynge Aug 27 '14 at 18:37
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There is a chance of broken links in shortened URLs.

Regarding Outbound Links:

  1. Linking to very low quality or banned sites can do real harm to your site.
  2. High number of external links drain off your Google PageRank.
  3. Selling links that pass PR is against guidelines and can lead to a site being penalized.

One alternative is to add rel="nofollow" to the outbound links. This prevents you from passing PR as well as insulates you in case one of the sites is unsavory.

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