Absolute Links vs. Relative Links – SEO Value

  • April 17, 2014
  • SEO
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How you structure your site URL is very important. This your websites address and the only link to your web pages.

Occasionally, we at Professional Lists, Inc. encounter queries from clients on which are the best practices that can guarantee the success of their SEO strategy. We always take up the initiative to relay back the most suitable answers.

For instance, we are all familiar with SEO (Search engine optimization) where web developers and content creators index your site until it goes up on Google searches. If a potential client or customer does a search on a service or product offered by your website, it’s important that it appears among the top ten results displayed by the search engine.

Recently we received a question from one of our clients stating: What is the impact of absolute and relative links on SEO?

Background History:

A URL written in full including the websites root, is referred to as an absolute link.  A fine example would be //www.seo-directmail-lists.com/services-web-design/

On the other hand, relative links begin from the root right after the initial forward slash. This means, while building pages as you go about your content creation, you are generating pages that have relative links. In simpler terms, with a relative URL you need not entire the full URL. It is assumed that the page you are typing in appears within the same site.

This brings us back to our client’s question. Search engines are responsive to both absolute and relative links in equal measure.  Most search engine programmers and web crawlers can identify the structure of your site with ease.

When you conduct an online search on which link is better, you will find that this notion is outdated. This might have been a concern 5 years ago but does not matter today. In real sense a good number of reviews say that whichever link is used, it is of no consequence to the end user.

There are those who argue that absolute paths might bog down a website by increasing its size unnecessarily. Most modern day developers refrain from using absolute paths which they find redundant.

So why Would You Opt For Relative Links?

Coding is quicker – If you have a large website, coding will be much easier if you shorten your URL.

Staging Purposes – content management systems equipped with staging environments which have their own unique domains such as SharePoint or WordPress allow the relative link format to exist. You do not have to trace back and re-code your URLs. This saves any web developer a great deal of time.

Reduced Loading Time – Pages which have relative URLs load way faster than those with absolute URLs. Nevertheless, the difference is quite negligible.

Why would You Opt for An Absolute Link?

Foils Scrapers – Scraper programs are best used when making it harder for people to scrape off information on your website. It’s much easier for a scraper to scrape out your entire site, placing it on another domain. People who use scrapper programs to scrap off information from your website will find it more difficult when you opt for an absolute URL.

Avoids Duplicate Content – Absolute URLs ensure that you are not faced with a situation where confusion arises. Google considers the following to be one website.

For Instance

Your website can have several configurations which might result in duplicate content issues.

http://www.example.com

http://example.com

https://example.com

https://example.com

Improve your Internal Links – When coding your URL, if you had created an error, you will land on a 404 error page. Such situations can be avoided altogether if you use absolute URLs.

Assist with crawling – Google crawlers usually follow your pages internal links. Due to the actual cost involved, the number of URLs Google crawlers are involved in are limited.

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