Search Engine Marketing Tips

Absolute Linking vs. Relative Linking

by Jerry West
Updated January 12, 2008

If you are a webmaster or SEO (Search Engine Optimization) Specialist, you have probably argued this issue with someone at one time or another during your career. So, which is right? Which one should you use?

First, let's define the two internal linking options:

Absolute Link

<a href="page.html">Link</a>

Relative Link

<a href="">Link</a>

As you can see, the absolute link gives the ABSOLUTE path to the page. The relative link points to the current area of where you are in the site. Of course, relative linking is only available for internal linking purposes - you can't, for obvious reasons, have a relative link to an external domain.

So, which is better? Many will argue their own points, however, when all is considered, absolute linking is the preferred method. Some SEOs will tell you that you can get your site dropped by Google by using relative linking.

No you can't.

The example is that if you use relative linking, it is possible that Google will index the non-www version of your site. Well, that will happen anyway if you have someone linking to you without the www in the link. For example, they linked to: instead of

The way to correct that is to add a section to your .htaccess file. You can get access to the code, but you must be a member of the SEO Revolution to get it. We keep the real good stuff for our members - for good reason.

If you don't correct that - even if you use absolute links, you will still have at least one page per crawl being indexed without the "www", which can cause other problems, including having duplicate content within your own site.

Of course, from a web development perspective, it is easier to code and design with relative links. It is also very easy for someone to hijack your entire site also.

One problem I ran into years ago with relative links is that if you manage a large site with many folders and sub folders and use a program like DreamWeaver to edit pages, you can inadvertently save a file in the wrong folder, and all the links will be broken as the structure is not the same.

Trust me. Avoid the headaches and use absolute links.

Update: Using absolute links has greatly reduced the number of sites scraping our content into usable sites.


© 2007-2008,
Jerry West is the Director of Internet Marketing for Web Marketing Now. He has been consulting on the web since 1996 and has assisted hundreds of companies gain an upper-hand over their competition. Visit Web Marketing Now for the latest in marketing tips that are tested and proven.

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