What Are Relative and Absolute URLs and What Are Their Differences?
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Using the correct URL structure for your site is essential for the function of your website. The two basic types are the absolute URL path, and the relative URL path. Choosing the wrong one could affect your SEO strategy and make it increasingly difficult for search engines to crawl and index.
In this article, we are going to be discussing the difference between the absolute URL and the relative URL – plus, we’ll go over when it is best to use each one.
What are absolute URLs – explained
An absolute URL is a complete page address that includes the protocol, the domain, and the folder system located within your website. It shows all of the information and steps you need to go through to reach the page in the search engine.
What are relative URLs – explained
On the other hand, the relative URL does not contain the full page address, and rather only has the location following after the domain. By assumption, the relative URL understands that the link you enter is part of the same site/root domain that you are already on.
The differences between absolute URLs and relative URLs
The main difference between the two is that an absolute URL will always show the domain name of the website, where the relative URL shows the path to a direct file or folder.
Plainly, a relative URL is useful when you are transferring to a different point within the same site. If you are a user that is directing to a site outside your current server, an absolute URL is useful.
Benefits of absolute URLs
Sites using an absolute path make it a lot more difficult for people to copy information using scraper programs. When all of your internal links are relative URLs it makes it very easy for scrapers to duplicate your entire website and use it on a different domain.
Duplicate content is disallowed
Avoiding duplicate content issues is very important. If you have multiple relative URLs related to your site without leading to any specific folder, then Google can enter your site at a random point. This means it can index your site using any type of format, which eventually leads to duplicate content issues.
Crawling is easier
Using an absolute URL can be used to help Google speed up the crawling process, which prevents issues resulting in leaving your site. This encourages it to crawl deeper into the pages of your site and return more often.
Benefits of relative URLs
Large websites with vast resources within the same server can be made much easier to code by using a shortened URL, the relative. It can be very time-consuming to write an entire path for each one, therefore, indicating a point in the server makes it clear where the page belongs.
Improved download speed
For the most part, pages that use relative URLs will download faster than websites that use absolute URLs, although the difference is minuscule. However, since the speed-up is so minor, you shouldn’t rely on relative URLs alone to prevent problems with page loading altogether.
Fast transition within the same server
If you use an absolute URL for each page on a site, it becomes necessary to transfer the portal to a new domain. Relative URLs avoid this problem by transferring to the new page without re-coding and immediately starting working.
To sum up, absolute URLs are useful when doing broad searches or if you’re switching between different servers. Relative URLs are preferred for searches within the same site.
There is no better option, and whichever one you choose will depend on your site’s needs. However, in general, most people will use the absolute path as there are more pros than there are cons.