Absolute Links vs. Relative Links – SEO Value

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Every detail matters when you are fighting for a good spot on the Google search results page, so SEO experts spend a huge amount of time obsessing about finer points of the online promotion principles. In most cases the extra attention is well justified and welcome, but in other situations there is no need to lose sleep over something that won’t make a difference in the final tally. Dilemma whether to use absolute links or relative links is a great example of the latter, since both types will have exactly the same impact on SEO success.

The main difference between absolute and relative links is their length and structure. Absolute links contain full address of the page/document on the website, including domain name and exact path towards it. By contrast, relative links are more succinct and consist only of a document name, since other details are already known to the search engine or web browser. Both link types are common on the contemporary internet, leading to a quandary which one suits SEO purposes better and should consequently be recommended for regular use.

In reality, there isn’t much of a dilemma at all, as search engine algorithms don’t make any significant difference between them. In fact, relative links are automatically converted into absolute links by the search engines by adding the omitted details, hence absolving webmasters of the burdensome responsibility to type full addresses each and every time. If the links are accurate and well-placed, they will have the same kind of SEO value regardless of their type, at least in theory. Despite this, many SEO professionals advocate for absolute links due to a few relevant factors.

First of all, conversion of relative links into absolute is done automatically by software, leaving a slim chance that something could go wrong and render the links useless. This is not a frequent occurrence, but having a human administrator typing full URL’s is a bit safer option that allows for simple correction of mistakes. If the links get jumbled by the search engine, it might be hard to detect where the problem originated and take adequate action. Absolute links should also be used whenever the content in which they are contained stands a reasonable chance of being moved to another location, for example by in case of PDF files that are frequently shared by users. Such documents will have dysfunctional links when accessed outside of the main website, unless these links contain complete URL’s.

The main conclusion is that two types of links can be used interchangeably without a noticeable effect of website’s page ranking and that advertisers should probably worry about more impactful elements of their SEO strategy. However, absolute links have certain advantages that make them more desirable for reasons not directly related to website optimization. With some training, smart business owners and web administrators can learn when to use one or the other type in order to produce the best results for the website, not just from an SEO perspective.

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