Absolute and relative URL: Format Features

Well thought-out URL-structure contributes to the proper functioning, successful scanning and indexing of your site by search engines. It is important to bring all the URL for the site to the uniform format - relative or absolute. This article highlights the difference between the two options to help the webmaster to choose one that fits the set goals.

What is the absolute URL?

The absolute URL-address provides detailed information about the location of pages on the Internet.

EXAMPLE: https://www.somewebsite.com/catalog/category/product

We know the protocol (HTTPS), and domain (www.somewebsite.com), we can keep track of all the levels of nesting, and determine the location of the page on the site.

What is the relative URL?

Relative URL-address contains only the end of the absolute URL-addresses.

To refer to the product page of the category page, you can register in the HTML following relative URL-address: <a href="product">.

It is assumed that if a particular page appears relative link on this page to be used as its root.

Now that it is marked difference between relative and absolute the URL, let's find out in which cases they should be used.

The advantages of using a relative URL

1. Compact code

Relative links are very popular with web developers, since it is much easier coding. Rather than prescribe all the way, that the tedious and time consuming when dealing with thousands of pages, you can use a short «/ product». In this case, easy to understand that the page is hosted on www.somewebsite.com, in a certain directory category.

2. Easy transition from a test environment to the working environment

If the test environment for somewebsite.com placed on a separate domain somewebsitestaging.com, the absolute URL-Address of the product page will be registered as follows: https://www.somewebsitestaging.com/catalog/category/product. By placing a large number of pages in a test environment, sooner or later be faced with the need to move them all to somewebsite.com, spending a lot of time and effort to re-encoding thousands of links.

Relative URL free us from this headache. They allow you to immediately move the entire structure of the site in the working environment, and tags, prescribed in the relative address, will apply to the new domain. So, you can much more efficiently use its human resources team.

3. A slight increase download speeds

Due to the short URL-addresses, site pages load faster. However, you should not rely on the relative links as a complete solution to increase the download speed. They really give a slight acceleration. If the site content is downloaded too long to dig deeper to reveal a more serious problem.

The problem of duplication

As with any other solution, the relative URL format has some disadvantages. The most serious is the fact that a relative URL <a href="product"> can produce four versions of the absolute URL:





If you do not choose the canonical version, Google will take all of these options as unique pages. Of course, the search algorithm gets smarter and learns to automatically determine the basic version. But errors are still possible, so do not rely entirely on artificial intelligence.

Why duplicate content is undesirable?

Many SEOs are afraid to get under the penalties for duplicate content. The punishment will not be as severe as in the case of spamnymi links, however, poor scanning (crawling) search bots can harm your site.

Google spends huge resources on a network scan for updates and reflects recent changes in the search results. For each site, a limited kraulingovy budget. Its size depends on the authority, the size, complexity platforms, its structure and the frequency of updates.

If there are four versions of the same site, dedicated kraulingovy budget may not be sufficient for their full scan. Google can not find out about the changes made on some pages and display the date information in the search. In addition, regularly faced with duplicate content, Google may decide to reduce the budget kraulingovy and frequency of such resource.

Absolute URL prevent the development of such a scenario. Search engine spiders see only version of the site and are not distracted by duplicate, which greatly increases your chances to show updated content in search results.

Risk Web skreypinga

Relative URL-addresses make it easy to move content from a test environment to the production domain. In this feature, there is a downside: the competitors can also effortlessly borrow the contents of your website and place it on your domain.

Absolute URL protect intellectual property. Instead of rewriting for the thousands of pages of Web addresses, fraudsters are more likely to go to look for other vulnerable platform.

Creating Effective absolute URL

Those planning to use the absolute URL-addresses, give some tips to set the correct format:

  • At the canonization of the basic version of the site give preference to using HTTPS, because Google finds it more secure than HTTP.
  • Despite the fact that it does not directly affect the SEO-performance, better use the version without www., As these four characters simply lengthen URL.
  • Explain the importance of absolute the URL address of its development team, as they may consider rewriting thousands of web addresses as a waste of time.
  • Adjust links in the internal navigation of the site.
  • Ask the team to report any non-absolute URL, they face when dealing with the site.
  • Use Screaming Frog or other similar tools to discover links that do not meet the prescribed format.
  • If you can not fix all of your URL-addresses, canonize them to reduce the risk of duplication and theft of content.


Each URL format has its advantages and disadvantages. Relative - greatly simplifies the work of web developers, while the absolute -Provides greater security, solve the problem of duplicate content and help maximize kraulingovy budget.

Although many experts believe the absolute URL common SEO-standard, do not rush to rewrite their relative URL-addresses. Carefully weigh the pros and cons of each option, comparing them with their goals and priorities.

The main thing is to select the format used on all pages of the resource. So it is possible to prevent many errors and simplify the work for its development team, as well as for search engine bots.

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