What are URL or Link Shorteners and how can they be harmful?

URL shortening, or link shortening, is a technique used to make a URL shorter, but still navigate a user to the desired web page. It is done with a URL shortener program that creates a shorter link to redirect to a webpage with a long URL. Link shortening is helpful in reducing the size of an HTML file, and is useful in character-limited applications such as Twitter.

For example, the URL can be shortened to Both of these links go to the same page.

Here are some popular link shorteners:

  • tinyurl

Many of the publicly available link shorteners' domains are not recommended for email marketing because they are often listed on blacklists due to overuse by spammers.

URL or link shortening and spam

Link shortening is a popular tool with spammers because it hides the true identity of the landing page URL. When a subscriber clicks on a shortened link, they are navigated to a fraudulent web page that may contain malware, or to a site used to steal information for identity theft.

You might often have deliverability problems if you use URL or link shorteners in your email content.

Mailbox provider filtering

Mailbox providers do not publicly declare that email will be blocked if it contains link shorteners, however, they do say they sometimes block email that appears to hide a sender's identity. Since link shorteners mask the URL of the landing page, many mailbox providers are likely to block emails that contain shortened links.

How to fix link shorteners

To fix problems with link shorteners:

  • Shorten your own links instead of using third-party link shorteners. Doing this can help you control how those links will reflect your brand and match your sending domain.
  • If you send plain text email, switch to HTML. Long URLs found in HTML code do not impact formatting.
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