Absolute Links or Relative Links – Want to know which one is good for SEO?
There is lot confusion over which type of links to use. But don’t worry all your confusion ends here. You will get all the necessary information about absolute and relative links with their impact on SEO.
First we will have a look at different types of website configurations:
As shown in above example, one website can have 4 versions. If you have not managed its redirection then it will be considered as different versions of same site. This may create duplicate content issue. Though you will not get punished for having duplicate content, you rely on Google to decide which version of your website to get ranked. Instead of this, you can take control of which version you need to rank by managing redirections. This was about the duplicate content problem that may rise due to different website configurations, now we will move forward to the use of absolute and relative links.
Let’s discuss what is meant by absolute and relative links:
An Absolute Link is a hyperlink containing full URL which includes all the information required to find that particular page.
Above link contains protocol i.e. http, domain name i.e. yoursite.com and page with extension i.e. gallery.html. This type of link is called as absolute link. We can say that absolute links are unique as for particular page there exist one unique absolute link that specifies full web address where the page is located.
Relative link is a hyperlink that contains only the file name because it has to be unique within a domain or directory.
As shown in above example, it contains the file name i.e. gallery.html. Within a particular domain or directory, it is not necessary to specify the domain name again. When relative link appears on a web page the browser understands that the file exists in the same domain. Relative links are faster to load as it doesn’t need to start from root to find the file.
Both types of links have different benefits of using them. We will see one by one.
Page load time:
If your website consists of thousands of pages then having relative links to your page is better way to load your pages slightly faster. Relative URLs can reduce your page speed but it very negligible. So when it comes to SEO, you should try reducing your page speed by working on suggestions from gtmetrix.com than using relative links.
Relative links are portable. Suppose you have used relative links and you want to change your domain name later then you don’t have to change all the links. All your relative links will be used as it is.
Easy SSL redirection:
If your website has SSL certificate and it uses “https” instead of “http” then you don’t have to change all the links and image references on that page. With relative links, it will be done automatically.
Prevent from scrapers:
With the use of absolute links, you can prevent your site from site scrapers. Website with relative link will get copied very easily and it will be super easy to publish it on new domain. To avoid such kind of action on your site, you should use absolute links. It will not totally prevent your site from copying but will make it difficult for scrapers to copy and publish the content.
Removes duplicate content issue:
As we have discussed earlier, there may be 4 versions of your website. You need to resolve it to one version otherwise it may create duplicate content issue. If you have used relative links throughout your website then Google will crawl and index your entire domain. Your internal link juice will be diluted by four versions so to avoid this you should prefer to use absolute links than relative one.
Maximum Crawl Rate:
Google crawls every website with a finite depth. This depends on many factors such as page rank, authority, how often you update your site and so on. Because of the relative links and duplicate content problem of 4 versions, Google has to crawl four different versions of the same site. This makes your website inefficient to crawl so Google will crawl it less frequently. Google will not crawl your website frequently and your updated pages will not get indexed.
Also Google may crawl and index the version of your site that you don’t want to get indexed. Making use of absolute links and resolving different version issue will help your website get indexed and rank well in search engine results.
How to Fix Absolute Vs Relative Link Problem?
You must ensure that all versions of your domain are resolved to one version. Choosing https version over http is the wise decision for better performance in SEO. Whichever version you have chosen all other versions should be resolved to that one decided version of your domain and this can be fixed easily at the server side.
Also you should change your internal relative links to absolute links. This may be a time consuming process but having absolute links is a high priority task that should be done.
In conclusion we can say that one must give preference to absolute links over relative links. Make sure that you fix the issues that I’ve stated above to make your website easy to crawl, index and rank. All the best!!!
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