A link (short for hyperlink) is an HTML object that allows you to jump to a new location when you click or tap it. Links are found on almost every webpage and provide a simple means of navigating between pages on the web.
Links can be attached to text, images, or other HTML elements. Most text links are blue, since that is standard color web browsers use to display links. However, links can be any color since the style of the link text may be customized using HTML or CSS styles. In the early days of the web, links were underlined by default. Today, underlining links is less common.
When a link is applied to an image, the link tag encapsulates, or surrounds the image tag. Since the image tag is nested inside the link tag, the image itself becomes a link. This method can be used to apply links to other elements such as <div> and <span> objects. However, since CSS can be used to stylize a link, an <a> tag with a CSS class or ID attribute is often used in place of a <div> or <span> tag.
Below is an example of the HTML for a text and image link:
Text Link: <a href="/definition/computer">Computer Definition</a>
Image Link: <a href="https://techterms.com/definition/computer"><img src="/images/computer.jpg" alt="desktop PC"></a>
Relative and Absolute Links
The first link above is a "relative link" because it does not include the domain name. Instead the link is relative to the current website. Any internal link on TechTerms.com, for example, does not need "https://techterms.com/" in the source. Rather, a relative link like "/definition/computer" is all that is required. Since the link starts with a forward slash, the path begins with the root directory. If a relative link does not start with a forward slash, the path is relative to the current URL.
The second link above is an absolute link because it includes the domain name. Absolute links are required for external links, which direct you to another website. They may begin with "http" or "https." Absolute links may also begin with two forward slashes ("//"). This is interpreted as "http://" for pages served via HTTP and "https://" for pages served via HTTPS.
NOTE: The "a" in the <a> tag stands for "anchor," since early hypertext documents often linked to anchors (or markers) within a page rather than other pages. The "href" within an <a> stands for "hypertext reference."
Updated: June 13, 2017