Absolute vs. Relative URLs in SEO: Which Should You Use?

Learn the pros and cons of using absolute and relative URLs in SEO, and how to optimize crawl budget and avoid duplicate content for websites with multiple versions.
  • Sarah Berry SEO Consultant
  • October 24, 2023
  • 4 min. read

When it comes to internal linking, SEOs debate about using absolute vs. relative URLs. Typically, SEOs recommend using absolute links vs. relative links in search engine optimization (SEO) since they’ll optimize crawl budget, though neither link type is wrong to use for internal linking.

Learn more about this debate below!

What is the difference between absolute vs. relative links in SEO?

The difference between absolute vs. relative links in SEO is their URL format. Absolute links contain the full URL, like https://www.example.com/services/, while relative links contain the page path, like “/services/.”

Should you use absolute or relative URLs in SEO?

Whether you use absolute or relative URLs in SEO depends on your website.

Typically, multiple versions of sites exist, the most common being the HTTP and HTTPS versions. Per best practices, your site versions should resolve to a master version to eliminate duplicate content. If your website resolves to a single version, like HTTPS, then using relative URLs for SEO is okay.

However, if your site does not resolve itself — meaning if users click a URL containing HTTP, they’ll visit the HTTP vs. HTTPS page — you’ll want to use absolute URLs for SEO to ensure visitors (and web crawlers) go to your HTTPS website.

Absolute URLs in SEO: basics, pros, and cons

Build your absolute URL knowledge with this breakdown of their definition, pros, and cons:

What are absolute URLs?

Absolute URLs contain the full URL, which includes the:

  • Protocol, like HTTPS
  • Domain, like “example”
  • Top-level domain, like .com
  • Page path, like /services/

Based on their structure, absolute URLs provide a direct, inflexible path to a page.

What are the pros and cons of absolute URLs?

The pros and cons of absolute URLs in SEO include the following:


Advantage Learn more
Provide a direct link to a URL. Since absolute URLs provide a direct, non-negotiable link to a page, you don’t have to worry about confusing crawlers with different site versions.
Eliminate duplicate content In the absolute URLs vs. relative URLs debate, SEOs often mention that absolute URLs prevent duplicate content, like the HTTP and HTTPS page version.   However, it’s worth mentioning that you can (and should) solve this problem by setting your different site versions to resolve to a single version, like HTTPS.
Deter website scraping Website scraping happens for multiple reasons, including when people want to duplicate a website.   Using absolute link vs. relative links can help deter website scraping because the duplicated website will direct users to your site.   Remember that site scrapers could update the internal links to direct to the copied site, though this takes more effort.
Streamline crawling Since absolute URLs directly link your page, they streamline crawling. For example, web crawlers don’t have to worry about visiting your HTTP and HTTPS site versions.   Again, we recommend solving the core issue and setting up the necessary redirects for HTTP to HTTPS.


Cons Learn more
Require more work when moving domains Should your business ever change its domain name, you’ll need to update your absolute URLs to use your new name.   Web developers can streamline this process, but you’ll need a slice of their time to develop the necessary script.
Create more work when testing on staging A common downside is working on your staging site, which has a different domain name.   Because you’re using absolute URLs, these will direct to your live site vs. the staging site, which can extend testing times.

Relative URLs in SEO: basics, pros, and cons

Learn more about relative URLs in SEO below:

What are relative URLs?

Relative URLs contain the partial vs. full path to a URL, like /services/ vs. https://www.example.com/services/. Compared to absolute URLs, relative URLs provide a flexible path that’s compatible with a website’s staging and live server since the path does not contain the domain.

What are the pros and cons of relative URLs?

The pros and cons of relative URLs in SEO include:


Pros Learn more
Streamline staging to live Since relative URLs contain the partial page path vs. a full page URL, developers don’t have to update links to include the appropriate domain name, which can help you push changes live faster.
Improve page speed Shorter URLs typically load faster because of their reduced character count. However, this page speed increase is minimal.


Cons Learn more
Has duplicate content risk If you haven’t resolved your different site versions, like HTTP and HTTPS, you risk wasting crawling resources by sending web crawlers to these various sites.   Again, we recommend setting up the necessary redirects to avoid this issue. It’ll simplify the absolute vs. relative links debate for you, too.
Has web scraping risk Websites that use relative URLs are easier to duplicate for website scrapers because they do not link to the specific domain.

Optimize your internal links with the experts behind SEO.com

Congrats, you’ve learned the basics, pros, and cons of absolute URLs vs. relative URLs in SEO. Now, you’re ready to set a strong foundation for your website. If you’re looking for SEO help, consider partnering with the SEO experts at WebFX. Request your custom strategy to get pricing and information for outsourcing your SEO to our award-winning team.

Sarah Berry is an SEO Consultant at one of the largest SEO agencies in the USA — WebFX. With more than 10,000 hours of SEO experience, she offers practical insights and strategies you can use to grow your rankings, traffic, and revenue from search.

Add WebFX to your content marketing toolbox today

Get SEO Proposal

What to read next

Welcome to SEO.com!
  • Nov 16, 2023
  • 3 min. read
Keep Reading
My Site Isn’t Showing Up on Google! Discover 6 Reasons Why Your Site Isn’t Ranking
  • Nov 14, 2023
  • 8 min. read
Keep Reading
Can SEO be Automated? A Guide to SEO Automation
  • Nov 14, 2023
  • 6 min. read
Keep Reading