StumbleUpon Offers URL Shortener, Su.pr

by Chris Silver Smith

StumbleUpon's Su.pr URL ShortenerI was really delighted when I noticed that StumbleUpon had set up a URL shortener named Su.pr! I imagined being able to use it to submit content to StumbleUpon users simultaneously with Twitter and maybe even Facebook, perhaps with some sort of combined analytics to show clickthroughs and such after the fact.

Further, I really like the domain name, “Su.pr”, since it looks like “Super”! (Why didn’t SuperMedia and Superpages.com snap that one up?)

But, from a search marketer’s viewpoint, Su.pr has a major defect that makes it unsuitable for me or my clients to use as a URL shortener. Su.pr frames pages, forwarding people who click on their links not to the destination URL, but instead to a StumbleUpon page which inserts a little voting toolbar above your framed page. See how it frames Mike Blumenthal’s blog post on Google Maps finding Rogers MN:

Screengrab of Mike Blumenthal's Blog Post About Rogers, MN

Setting the shortened URL to redirect to a framed page results in StumbleUpon’s framed page getting all PageRank transferred to it instead of to the page you’re trying to promote. Potentially, this could result in the StumbleUpon version of your page ranking for specific keyword searches instead of the original page.

Recently, Digg CEO Kevin Rose announced that they would remove the Digg iFrame Toolbar, which was similarly nonoptimal. Rose noted that:

“Framing content with an iFrame is bad for the Internet. It causes confusion when bookmarking, breaks w/iFrame busters, and has no ability to communicate with the lower frame (if you browse away from a story, the old digg count still persists). It’s an inconsistent/wonky user experience, and I’m happy to say we are killing it when we launch the new Digg…”

URL shortening services are vital to the popular microblogging sites like Twitter as well as other short status update interfaces available through popular social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, since the forced brevity of messages necessitates that people ration every character used to compose messages. Long page URLs need to be abbreviated to leave room for message descriptions to go along with them.

Su.pr seems to otherwise be a pretty cool tool as a URL shortener, although I’d like to be able to customize the URLs I shorten with it, similar to what Bit.ly allows. However, Su.pr is unlikely to get widespread adoption and recommendations from online marketers until it fixes it’s glaring defect: remove the framing toolbar!

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