There any many benefits of using absolute URLs in the links across your website. But absolute links might cause you some issues too.
Here are 5 reasons to use absolute links on your website – and 2 reasons you might want to use relative links instead.
So what’s an absolute URL?
An absolute URL tells you the exact location of a file or directory. A hyperlink to an absolute URL would look like this in the source code of a web page:
And a relative URL?
A relative URL tells you the location of a file or directory in relation to the current directory. A hyperlink to it would look like this in the source code:
Both methods will (in theory) work fine for your internal links. But there are benefits to each.
5 reasons to use absolute links:
1. Absolute links are less likely to cause duplicate (canonical) content issues especially if you have an http and https, or www non-www version of your site.
2. If your content is ‘scraped’ and used on other sites, you will gain some inbound links back to your site.
3. Your links will always work if your content is used in RSS feeds or in email newsletters. For example, a relative link won’t work when you view articles in an RSS reader.
4. It should be easier for search engines to follow your links if they are absolute (although this hasn’t really been proven and using relative links shouldn’t affect your SEO efforts.).
5. Your content or site is less-likely to be ‘stolen’ – the thief will need to go through and change all the hyperlinks to go to the site they are hosting the stolen content on.
You should always use absolute links in files like PDFs and Word documents, as these are likely to be downloaded and distributed via email etc.
2 (and a bit) reasons to use relative links
1. It’s easier to test your site locally on a PC or server, or a test domain before any pages are uploaded to your live site.
2. You won’t have to amend your links manually if you change domains.
Pages with relative links may load slightly faster. But this shouldn’t be an issue for users or search engine robots on most sites.