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Is A Complete Path Same As ../../../

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4 replies to this topic

#1 lister


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Posted 01 April 2013 - 09:43 PM

Something I have often wondered - is it 100% the same thing to link to a file like this:

<a href = "../../../../folder/" > anchor </a>


-- or --


<a href = "http://mywebsite.com/folder/" > anchor </a>

Clearly option 2 - the full path, has little chance of becoming broken -


Are both the same thing in the eyes of a SE?

Edited by lister, 01 April 2013 - 09:43 PM.

#2 Michael Martinez

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 12:49 AM

Your first example is usually called a "relative URL", meaning that it is resolved by your browser at the time you click on the link relative to whatever directory/folder the browser (or search engine) is currently looking at.  Relative URLs can be duplicated across many folders in a large Website but all resolve to different actual pages.  Relative URLs can be very troublesome, especially if they are encoded in multiple partial formats.


Your second example is usually called an "absolute URL" (although technically it's "an absolute, fully resolved URL").  Every URL has to be fully-resolved before it can be used to fetch content.  The chief difference between RELATIVE and ABSOLUTE URLs is that with relative URLs the browser (or search engine) figures out how to fully resolve the link and with absolute URLs the resolution is provided by the Web content.


I have recommended that people use absolute, fully resolved URLs for many, many years as there is no real "safe" way to ensure that relative URLs will always take the visitor to the correct destination.

Edited by Michael Martinez, 02 April 2013 - 12:50 AM.

#3 Alan Perkins

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Posted 02 April 2013 - 02:53 AM

Are both the same thing in the eyes of a SE?


Yes - assuming both resolve to the same URL, then both are the same thing.


More details: Search engines normalise all URLs before processing, and both of those URLs would normalise to the same thing


Far more details: read the section on "normalisation" in my article on URL Canonicalisation and Normalisation.

#4 lister


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 09:49 AM

Thanks for all replies. I guess the a complete path is better practice with CSS and Javascript files etc? Point being that it eliminates any unnecessary broken links - 


#5 chrishirst


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Posted 02 April 2013 - 11:43 AM

A path that does not change relative to where the current URLs is 'best'. So either an absolute path or a root relative path.


/dir/subdir/subdir/file.ext is root relative and means start at the root of the site ie: domain.tld/ or just /. and traverse the branches '/' downwards



file.ext or dir/file.ext means "start at the same level as the location of this file URL"


../file.ext means start one directory branch higher than the current level and traverse each branch '/' UPWARDS. This does take the server a few microseconds longer to locate and serve the appropriate document.

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