Enhancing Short URL Targeting with Deep Links

Sep 14, 2023

URL shortening is an invaluable tool for compressing lengthy links into compact shortened URLs that are ideal for sharing on social media, emails, or print. However, basic shortened links simply redirect to a website’s homepage. Deep links take short URLs even further by directing users to specific pages deeper within a website for more targeted, seamless experiences.

This article explores what exactly deep links are, their key benefits when combined with shortened URLs, and tips for implementation.

What Are Deep Links?

Deep links are hyperlinks that link out to a specific page on a website rather than just the homepage. For example, a deep link could send users directly to a product page, rather than generically to exampleshop.com. Deep links allow users to bypass homepages and land directly on relevant content.

Shortened URLs generated by tools like Bitly or Ow.ly are usually basic redirects to a homepage. However, services exist to easily create short links that contain embedded deep links, sending traffic to targeted internal pages.

Benefits of Deep Link Shortened URLs

There are many advantages to using deep link short URLs instead of basic shortened home page links:

  • Direct access to content: Deep links let users immediately access desired content without navigating a site first.
  • Improved metrics: Track traffic to specific pages to better understand user behavior.
  • Higher engagement: Users are more engaged when sent to relevant content directly.
  • Enhanced sharing: Deep links shared on social media or messaging go straight to content.
  • Streamlined navigation: Deep links provide a smoother, direct navigation experience.
  • Customization: Easily swap out deep links within a short URL for flexibility.
  • Mobile optimization: Deep links enhance user experience on mobile devices.
  • Context retention: Users land on page with appropriate context, not just homepage.
  • Simplified linking: No need for crazy long direct page URLs that are unusable.

Implementing Deep Link Shortened URLs

There are a couple effective ways to implement deep link short URLs:

URL Shortener Tools

Many popular URL shorteners like Bitly and Rebrandly have integrated deep link capabilities. For example, with Bitly you can create a short link like bit.ly/3aWBcD that points directly to example.com/products/widget123 based on a template containing the deep link.

Custom Redirects

For more customization flexibility, you can build your own redirects from a shortened URL to a deep link using .htaccess files on your web server or JavaScript snippets on your sites. Developer skills are required.

Best Practices for Deep Link Short URLs

Follow these tips when creating deep link short URLs:

  • Make the short URL human-readable with relevant keywords if possible.
  • Use subfolder structures for easier deep link organization.
  • Test links extensively before publishing live.
  • Redirect broken pages to proper deep link destinations.
  • Refresh links periodically if content moves to prevent breakage.
  • Provide context via anchor text and meta descriptions when sharing deep links on social media.
  • Use UTM codes to track deep link performance.
  • Monitor analytics to identify popular deep links to promote further.
  • Ensure links work seamlessly on both desktop and mobile.
  • Don’t make users log in if unnecessary. Deep links should provide direct access.

Powerful Precise Link Targeting

Deep link short URLs enable you to drive users to exactly the right page to match their interests and the context where the link was shared. The streamlined experience increases engagement, conversion rates, and brand trust. Deep link short URLs essentially help future-proof your links against changing website content by always sending traffic directly where it needs to go. The enhanced analytics provide superior insights into audience behavior and content preferences. For both users and brands, deep link short URLs are an impactful upgrade over conventional base URLs.

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