Why target= “_blank” is your friend. External links should open in a new tab!

Why target= “_blank” is your friend. External links should open in a new tab!

Attention online publishers! If you are linking to a source within your content you need to make sure said source opens in a new tab. No excuses. Here’s why:
Think about the experience of a reader. They are really into reading your article when you reference a video you watched that has another example of what you’re writing about. Now, they’re really into this topic, so of course they want to watch that same video that helped inspire you to write about it. So they click, and they watch the video. Three minutes later, the video is over and they’re satisfied. They close the tab and think about getting back to your original article. But the article is gone. Now, if they want to get it back they can go into their history and look for “recently closed tabs.” But this adds another step to the process, and they are a tiny bit frustrated that you didn’t make sure that link opened in a new tab. So they go back to twitter and carry on with their procrastination.
Unless the main goal of your article was to get people to view the video you linked to, you’ve failed.
If you made sure the link opened in a new tab, the user would have watched the video, hit ctrl-W to close the tab, and finished your article. At the bottom of your article a place for them to convert into a subscriber, and they do. If this is your goal, then you’ve succeeded. You did a great job paying attention to the details.
If you are adding a link through the code view of your website, you need to add target=“_blank” to your code. After your link, and before the tag closes. If will look something like this:

<a href=”thisisalinkyouwanttoreference.com” target=”blank”>This is your link text.</a>

If you’re adding a link in WordPress, they have a handy dandy check box that says, “Open link in a new window/tab.” Just check that off and you’re all set.
I tend to have a link open in a new tab about 85% of the time. If it’s a link that is the next step of the journey I want to take them on, like a call to action, then I’ll have it open in the same tab. If the link is inside your content (like a word in a paragraph) it should ALWAYS open in a new tab. If it’s a button or a graphic that you want them to click on once they are ready, and they will have no reason of returning, then you can just have it replace that page.
It’s all about paying attention to how the user will consume your content, and making sure all the details work towards your goal.

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About Stacey Schall

Stacey is the head of inbound marketing at Schall Creative. She has a passion for communicating and believes that her left brain and right brain can work together in harmony. You can find her on Twitter @staceyschall.