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Absolute Links vs. Relative Links: Which Is More Valuable for SEO?

Blogging

Your URL is the web address of your site and its subpages.  

The way you format it is the method search engines read and analyze your content. It helps them decide whether your domain name is worthy of appearing in the search results or not.  

So, when designing your website, it’s important to properly structure your URL and the links within it and check if any of them are redundant or broken. That way, they can be crawled and indexed successfully.  

There are two types of links you can use to direct search engine bots to your web page: absolute links and relative links.  

An absolute link provides the complete location information of your site, while a relative link only contains the location following your domain. Each has its pros and cons, so you need to choose wisely.

Using one that doesn’t match your needs can negatively affect the performance of your site, impacting your ranking and your SEO strategy. It will ultimately prevent customers from finding you quickly and easily.  

In this article, we’ll be discussing about the two links, as well as their benefits and drawbacks, so you can assess which type of link is suitable for your website. With that in mind, let’s dive right in!

Between Absolute Links and Relative Links, Which Do You Think is More Valuable for SEO?

Some say absolute links work best for them, while others agree that relative links are their go-to option. We’ll let you decide for yourself as we provide the ins and outs of absolute links and relative links.

Let’s start with relevant links.

What is a Relative Link?

A relative link or URL only contains the path following your domain. It does not give the complete information location of your site, but instead, it conveys the address that is relative to where you are.  

A relative link is commonly used by developers because it makes the process of website building easier. It normally looks like this: “/abc.html “

relative-absolute-url
Photo from ShivarWeb

Pros

Quicker and Simplified Coding

If you have a large website, it’s best to shorten your URL into a relative format to make coding easier.  

The use of relative links allows web developers to be more efficient since they don’t have to write the path for each of the pages on a resource. Instead, they just have to indicate a point on the site map to clarify that the page is a part of a specific server.  

In other words, using relative links makes coding easier.

Saves You Time

Relative links also allow you to easily move your entire website onto a staging server for testing. It means that you don’t have to manually re-code all of your links just for your website to exist on the staging and production domain, as well as the live accessible version of your site. This allows you to save time and transition your site from staging to production swiftly.

Faster Loading Time

Compared to absolute URLs, using relative links or URLs helps your website load slightly faster. The difference is very small so you shouldn’t rely solely on it to improve your web page loading speed.  

It’s best to check other factors and optimize them to have a faster loading time.  

Cons

Duplicate Content Issues
guy-writing-on-board

Did you know that a single wrong link in your content to your staging server can cause Google to index your test environment? This could lead to duplicate content issues that can negatively impact your ranking.  

Aside from this, relative links can also duplicate themselves up to four times, as you can see from our example below:

https://www.exampleabc.com

https://exampleabc.com

http: // www. exampleabc.com

http: //exampleabc.com

You must define one of them as canonical. Otherwise, search engines will think that each of the four versions of your URL is unique to each other and index them separately.  

This can confuse search engine bots and divide their attention into four instead of focusing only on one, diluting your SEO efforts and reducing your potential of getting ranked.  

Enables Content Theft

Since they don’t need to rewrite any internal link, relative URLs make it very easy for scraper programs to copy or steal your entire website, including its content.  

What is an Absolute Link?

On the other hand, an absolute link or URL provides the complete location information of your site. It contains both your domain name and page path.  

pathway-url-absolute-link
Photo from Instruct.uwo.ca

Absolute links are always unique, which means that using them helps prevent the risk of duplicate content. Here’s what it usually looks like: “http://www.example.com/abc.html”.  

Pros

Protects Your Content

Absolute links or URLs prevent scraper programs from stealing information from your site directory because doing so would be very difficult and tedious. They’d have to manually re-code the thousands of links in your website to be able to copy and put them on a new domain.  

Prevents Duplicate Content

Because absolute links prevent scraper programs from stealing everything on your website, it helps avoid duplicate content issues. They also point search engine bots to your website correctly, making it very unlikely to index duplicate content.

Improves the Performance of Your Site

Another great thing about absolute links is that they prevent you from implementing the wrong code that could make your visitors land on a 404 error page.  

As much as possible, you want to make sure that all the links on your site are working. Such links help provide a superior user experience to anyone who visits your site.  

Allows Search Engine Bots to “Read” Your Site Faster

When you use absolute links, you allow search engine crawlers to “read” your site faster. That’s because they’re less likely going to come across problems. This motivates them to come back more frequently and crawl more pages on your site for every relevant search.  

If search engine crawlers encounter issues as they “read” your content, they’ll most likely leave. This is why it’s a must to optimize your website.  

Cons

Actually, there’s only one disadvantage of using absolute links:

Makes Testing Difficult

Absolute links make it very difficult to test your site. You won’t be able to copy your website on a staging server unless you manually re-code each of the links found on your site.  

It’s Time to Make Up Your Mind - Absolute Links or Relative Links?

If you ask us, we believe that absolute links are more valuable for SEO. They prevent duplicate content issues and they allow search engine crawlers to read and index your site easily, which is great for your SEO ranking!  

However, you should take the advantages of relative links in consideration as well. And, that’s just our opinion!

The best way to decide which type of link is best for your website is to define what your goal is. Is it to improve your SEO ranking? Or, is it to make testing easier?  

If you feel like you need professional help, don’t hesitate to contact Digital Resource. We specialize in SEO! Contact us today to learn how we can help you make your website more SEO-friendly.  

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