Absolute vs. Relative Links

Although PageRank certainly is not the only measure in page placement in the SERPS, it does still play a significant role in the algorithm when all other factors of page relevance are equal.

Since the traffic from a top 10 term in Google generally exceeds the traffic from a top ten term from any other search engine a MINIMUM of 4 to 1, this can be vital to the success of a new business owner trying to make a living.

“Traditional search engines rely heavily on how often a word appears on a web page. Google uses PageRank™ to examine the entire link structure of the web and determine which pages are most important. It then conducts hypertext-matching analysis to determine which pages are relevant to the specific search being conducted. By combining overall importance and query-specific relevance, Google is able to put the most relevant and reliable results first.” Google Info

Page rank is determined by the quality (PR) and quantity of incoming links to a page. In most cases the homepage will have far more incoming links than other pages on the site. Links from your own site to other pages are also part of the equation. Google sees the following as totally different pages:


If I use relevant linking, it causes the link to direct to index.htm rather than my domain URL. This can cause diluted or divided PR. Often you will see the index page of a domain and the actual domain URL display different PageRank because of this issue where that PR should have all been directed to the actual domain URL.

This inconsistency in linking can also cause those pages to be indexed two different ways leading to duplicate content penalties or filters, similar to what is seen with a site that is not consistent with linking either with or without the www for their site. Although Google is getting better at canonical issues, they continue to be a valid concern.

We also suggest you link to other pages of your site using absolute, rather than relative, links with the version of the domain you want to be indexed under. For instance, from your home page, rather than link to products.html, link to http://www.example.com/products.html . And whenever possible, make sure that other sites are linking to you using the version of the domain name that you prefer. Inside Google

The effect of divided/diluted PR is far reaching when your navigation comes into the picture. In most cases each level down your inner pages are in the structure, the PR for those pages will drop by 1. So if your main page has a PR of 5 the first level of navigation will most often be PR4, then next level down PR3 and so forth. In cases where you have an extremely popular article on a site, you often see the added PR from incoming links raise that page above others. That incoming weight is distributed throughout the site via your navigation.

For people who depend solely on word of mouth, this may not be of concern. For small business owners who often depend on the search engines for a significant portion of their income, this small investment in time is well worth the difference it can make to their site traffic.

Another reason absolute linking to the home page and other directories can be critical is if the situation were ever to occur that you needed to change the extensions on those pages, such as sites that change to shtml or php. If all your links came into the index pages, a change in extensions would require starting over in terms of PR and in terms of those pages being indexed in the search engines at all. For a small business owner this change can prove to be very costly.

HOWEVER, had the main page of the site and the main page of each directory been linked directly, rather than to the index page of each, the extension change would have absolutely no impact on those primary pages, as the linking URL would not have changed. PR and indexing remain intact making possible to rebuild the PR and placement of the other inner pages very rapidly.


J. Cricket Walker

Small Business Marketing Consultant and SEO Training Specialist
Copyright © 2007 J. Walker of GNC Web Creations All Rights Reserved