Twitter recently started automatically shortening all links within tweets. Any links you now share will show up as a http://t.co looking link.
Here is more information from Twitter on the change: “Twitter will shorten URLs you post on Twitter.com. You cannot opt out of link shortening.”
In general, it’s helpful to shorten links within Twitter because of the character limit.
There are reasons why some people prefer not to have this happen automatically:
- It makes all of your links hard to recognize and some people are wary of clicking on links when they can’t see where they are headed.
- Some people have their own link shortening strategies for tracking and sharing. (FYI, these can still be used, see Twitter for info.)
- It sometimes shortens links you don’t want shortened.
An example of that last point: My last two blog posts were in reference to the HealthCare.gov web site. When I tweeted about the blog post, both the blog post link and the healthcare.gov link shortened. The headline was supposed to be: “Why the Design Fails on HealthCare.Gov”. But if I wasn’t careful it became: “Why the Design Fails on http://t.co/aLy8BACLFE”
T.co links help you see Twitter traffic in Google Analytics
Links will appear with the t.co in your tweet itself and also in your Google Analytics.
I first became fully aware of this change when I looked at my Google Analytics. For me, seeing all the twitter links aggregated into one line item made me realize how effective Twitter has been for driving traffic to my web site. Here is a screen shot of my referral traffic sources in Google Analytics.
What about you? Do you like Twitter’s new t.co shortening service?