Generally the difference is described as being "relative links" vs. "absolute links" (or substitute "addressing" for "links."
Originally posted by CLKeenan
soft code: /yadda/yadda.htm
hard code: http://www.yadda.com/yadda/yadda.htm
I've heard that its better to hard code them because this way the search engines index more of your pages and it improves your page rank on your pages because you have multiple links to those pages now
I'd say there are clear advantages to absolute addressing, but the direct impact of either approach in search engine ranking is either minimal or nonexistant. As far as I know, Google has never had any problem correctly resolving relative links, and I've never seen Google exhibit any preference in ranking for either approach. I'm not so sure that's always the case, or will always be the case with all search engines -- absolute addresses could reasonably be seen as being helpful here; relative addresses could not.
Among the non-SEO considerations:
Google-related, but not ranking-related: Google's cache. Here I suppose you can decide which approach you like best and which is appropriate for your site. If someone views the cached version of your site and clicks on a link, do you want them to go to a second cached page, or to your live site (which is more likely to have your most up-to-date content)?
If someone steals your pages, they may not change all of the absolute links -- making it easier for you to notice them.
If someone prints your pages, you'd want to have the full url of the printed page displayed; not just the location within your htdocs directory.
Same thing if someone just saves your page. You created valuable, interesting content. Make it easy for people to find your site later.
On the other hand, relative addressing can be seen as making your documents more "portable." They'll work easily on your desktop PC, upload them to your server and they'll be fine, stick a copy on another site and you're ok there too.
So, decide what are the important considerations for you...
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