hootsuiteOn my Twitter feed this morning, Nate Hoffelder of The Digital Reader voiced a complaint about the way social media sharing service Hootsuite treats reshared content.

In the exchange that followed, Nate complained that Hootsuite basically takes reshared content and wraps it in a Hootsuite URL, with a Hootsuite advertisement banner (they call it a “social share bar”) at the top of the page. If readers click to other links on The Digital Reader from that share, the Hootsuite banner and URL remain, interfering with Nate’s ability to engage with his readers. (It’s possible also that it might interfere with search engine ranking, though Nate doesn’t bring up that point.) Nate suggests they should change their URL shortener to act as a 301 redirect, which would fix the banner-wrapping issue.

Buffer, the sharing service that I use to reshare interesting articles and also multi-share the TeleRead articles I post myself (including this one!), uses a buff.ly URL shortener that includes such a redirect, so it becomes the original site’s URL when a user is redirected through it. This allows Buffer to gather some metrics and statistics, telling me how many readers were able to view or clicked through each particular URL.

Nate isn’t the only user to complain about Hootsuite’s obnoxious habits. It’s one of the points Ian Anderson Gray brings up in his “7 Reasons NOT to use Hootsuite” post. Apparently Hootsuite got some flak about this in the past for its ow.li URL shortener, as it changed the behavior of that one from a 302 redirect to a 301 redirect in 2012, but the ht.ly redirect continues to use Hootsuite’s “social share bar.” It seems to be the choice of the individual Hootsuite user whether to use ow.li or ht.ly, and it’s the ht.ly behavior Nate finds objectionable.

Hootsuite hasn’t been the only service to run into this kind of flak, either. As I noted in 2012, Readability did the same sort of thing with its reformatted articles in 2012 until people objected and it stopped.

But if you’re annoyed with your site being reshared via someone else’s “social share bar,” you may have options. In 2009, the Marketing Tech Blog posted a snippet of Javascript that was supposed to permit owners to pop their page out of the iframe automatically if it was loaded inside one. Of course, that was six years ago, so I have no idea if it still works, but it may be worth a shot.


  1. Hey Chris,

    I hadn’t thought about the SEO loss, but you’re right in that it is another reason to object to hootsuite.

    And while we’re on the topic, part of the reason why I complained was that Linkis (sp?), one of Hootsuite’s competitors, changed from a banner bar to simply being a 301 redirect. I just want Hootsuite to follow that example.

  2. My two cents on impact on SEO / social.

    If the landing site has a canonical url in the meta information the ht.ly redirect shouldn’t impact the sites SEO. To the best of my knowledge, Google will attribute the link to the canonical URI. Most platforms and blogging engines will have a permalink as the canonical url by default.

    That said, it may impact the site’s social share count as reshares of the ht.ly URL may be counted separately than the original. We can’t know if Twitter, AddThis et al., automatically correct for this or use the canonical URI as well. Last I checked Twitter was doing exact matches, but I’d need to retest. I am confident with Facebook, if you have graph tags ‘og:xxxx’ they do their accounting on those links.

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