Google’s John Mueller recently stated that, for the most part, it doesn’t matter whether you use absolute or relative URLs when linking to pages internally.
This topic was brought up in a recent Google Webmaster Central hangout where the following question was asked:
“In your opinion, which ultimately is best to use when doing internal linking – absolute or relative URLs?”
In response, Mueller presents two different scenarios where absolute and relative URLs may or may not matter.
Scenario 1: Perfect Site Structure
In a theoretical case where a site has a perfect structure – meaning it has correctly implemented canonicals and a single uniform domain – then it doesn’t matter at all if you use absolute or relative URLs.
In this scenario, Mueller recommends using whichever is easier for you to implement with the CMS you’re using. “Use whatever makes sense,” Mueller says.
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Scenario 2: Imperfect Site Structure
If your website does not have a theoretically perfect structure, which Mueller says most websites probably don’t, then there may be some benefit to using absolute URLs. With absolute URLs, Google can find its way back to the preferred version of the page.
If you’re unable to use absolute URLs then you can still help Google find the preferred versions of URLs by using the rel=“canonical” tag. So, ultimately, you can use either relative or absolute URLs in this scenario as well.