Absolute vs. Relative Links

Do you know the difference between an absolute and a relative link? Do you know which is your best choice for SEO  (Seatch Engine Optimization) purposes?

Absolute Link

An absolute link is created when the href value is a fully qualified URL, including:

  • the transfer protocol: http://
  • domain name: e.g. www.yourdomain.com
  • and filename: e.g. your-page.html

An absolute link to the Expression Web Tutorials & Templates homepage looks like this:

<a title=”Expression Web Tutorials &amp; Templates.” href=”http://www.expression-web-tutorials.com/index.html”>Expression Web Tutorials &amp; Templates</a>

If you are linking between websites, you must use an absolute link. If you are linking to the Home Page of your site OR the index page in any directory, then you do not need to include the file name. Why? When the path does not include a filename, the server attempts to open the directory index, or default file. The default file name will depend on what your server requires.

<a title=”Expression Web Tutorials &amp; Templates.” href=”http://www.expression-web-tutorials.com/”>Expression Web Tutorials &amp; Templates</a>

will take you to the same location as the link shown above.

Relative Link

A relative link is created when the destination href value is relative to the location of the current webpage or source anchor.

A relative link to the Expression Web Tutorials & Templates homepage, from any webpage in the SAME directory, looks like this:

<a title=”Expression Web Tutorials &amp; Templates.” href=”index.html”>Expression Web Tutorials &amp; Templates</a>

This tells the browser to look in the current directory and open the file index.html.

A relative link can only be used when linking within a website; or when the source and destination anchors are under the same domain name.

Which is Best SEOwise?

Page rank is determined by the quality (PR) and quantity of incoming links to a page. In most cases the homepage will have far more incoming links than other pages on the site. Links from your own site to other pages are also part of the equation. Google sees the following as totally different pages:

www.expression-web-tutorials.com/
www.expression-web-tutorials.com/index.html

Cricket Walker, who offers free classes on SEO Techniques recommends using absolute links ESPECIALLY for your Home Page. You can read Absolute vs. Relative Links to understand why.

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