What is a Relative Link in SEO

Relative link Explanation and definition of terms

The term “relative link” is mainly used in the Internet world and describes a possibility on a website by simply clicking on a term or an image to redirect the user to another page. It represents a special type of linking in relation to your own domain and uses a different principle of target definition than, for example, the absolute link, which is also often used. Both the absolute and the relative link form one of the technical and conceptual basic principles of the World Wide Web and contribute to simple use and fast information acquisition as well as user-friendliness in the network.

Definition of the relative link

A relative link is a reference to a target in which the target information is not defined with an absolute, i.e. a complete URL or path, but with a relative target description. The relative link shows the target resource depending on your own domain and the current directory and thus refers to sub-pages of your own website. It only uses part of the complete URL specification of the destination and supplements this with the domain name of the starting page for the complete destination description. For this reason, the destination must be on the same server or on a server with the same domain name and must be accessible from the current directory or path of the starting point. The target document or the target information is thus in direct relation to the source document, which also results in the designation relative link.

The relative link syntax

The correct syntax must be used to display or include a relative link on a website. This is integrated into the corresponding HTML document on the server and displayed on the user's computer when it is called up via a web browser.
The so-called anchor element with the abbreviation “a” and the attribute “href” (“hyper reference”) is to be used for this purpose. As usual with HTML, the complete expression must be included in upper and lower case characters. At the beginning there must be the letter "a", the actual destination is in quotation marks. Here is an example of the syntax of such a relative link:
This relative link points to a file with the name "document.html", which is located in the subdirectory "directory1" starting from the currently displayed page.
With the relative linking, however, not only references to subdirectories are possible, but also higher-level directories can be addressed without any problems. This is indicated in the path information with a preceding "..". Here is an example of a relative link to a parent directory:
This link again points to the document "document.html", which, however, in contrast to the previous example, is now in the higher-level directory for the current location of the source document.
If reference is to be made to any location on the same domain via a relative link, this can be implemented as follows, for example:
The target document is now in a different subdirectory with the name "directory2" of the higher-level directory level. In this way, any storage location on the current server can be addressed. The prerequisite for displaying the corresponding destination is always the presence of the corresponding document at the respective designated location and the accessibility of the path for retrieval by a web browser.

Difference between absolute and relative link

The absolute link uses a similar syntax as the relative link, but has all information available in the path specification of the target document in order to be able to call up data on any server in the Internet. For this purpose, the so-called domain name of the destination is included in the link as a complete URL. The following example shows the syntax of an absolute link:
The syntax is initially similar to that of the relative link, but differs in the target specification using the full URL. This example addresses the document with the name "document.html" in the directory "directory1" on the server with the domain name "www.zielseite.de".
As a result, this link is completely independent of the starting page and can be used to call up any external resources. However, absolute links cannot only refer to targets of other domains. Documents on your own server can also be called up with an absolute link instead of a relative link. To do this, the full URL with your own domain name must be specified.

Advantages and disadvantages of the relative link

The most important advantage of using a relative link is its flexibility, which results from its independence from the domain name. If your own website has to move to a different server or domain, for example, all target information for the relative link is retained if the target server has the same directory structure. This means that a domain move can be carried out quickly and easily and no HTML documents have to be changed. All you have to do is copy all HTML documents from the website on the new server into the same directory structure. The website is then fully functional and usable. If the references to your own pages were implemented with absolute links, the domain name in the destination information would have to be laboriously replaced in all HTML documents when the domain is moved. References to resources on other websites are not affected when you move.

The importance of the relative link in search engine marketing

Links in general and the differences between absolute links and relative links play a major role in search engine optimization. In principle, all search engines rate websites that have a large number of links from external sites higher and show them better placed in the results. However, since links from other pages to your own website should always be included as absolute and not as relative links due to the differing domain name, only absolute links have an influence on the weighting of your own page. The relative links to documents and sub-pages of your own homepage are only relevant for the search engine to find sub-pages. The so-called web crawler follows all links on the relevant page, including the relative links, and automatically adds the content and information it finds to its results database.

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