How Should Internal and External Links Open in Blog Posts?

by on July 05, 2012

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Having a good mix of reliable internal and external links within your content is important not only in terms internal-external-links-in-blog-postsof SEO, but more so in terms of how visitors to your site experience your content.  Once links are in a post, most bloggers only care that their links are opening and working correctly and the thought process stops there.  However, the matter of how those links open deserves some attention.  

Almost all bloggers say you absolutely should not have any links open in a new window (this confuses novice web users and it can actually anger users when their browser is taken over like that). So how should these links open?

Why External Links Should Always Open in a NEW Tab:

A. When a visitor clicks one of these links they are redirected to another site.  If they stay on that other site to read the entire article you linked to, the likelihood of them remembering to click back and finish the rest of your post is low.

B.  If there are a lot of external links within one blog post, it can be frustrating for visitors to have to keep pressing the ‘Back’ button to get back to your post.

C.  Google tracks the amount of time someone is spending on your site, and they take that information into account when they assign your site a rank.  If people are leaving your site because you are redirecting them to external links, that is negatively affecting the amount of time Google can track people on your site.

Why Internal Links Should Open in the SAME Tab:

Internal links are different from external links because they aren’t redirecting your visitor to another site, but instead to other content on your site.  And because visitors aren’t leaving your site, it’s okay to open those links in the same tab.  The reasons for this are:

A.  By opening the link in the same tab users don’t have to navigate their way to a new tab.  Cuts down on confusion.

B. Many web users don’t like having multiple tabs from the same site open, it can get messy for them if there are too many of them open at once.

C.  Because these links don’t open in a new tab, the ‘Back’ button stays intact and so it is easy for visitors to get back to the content they were originally looking at.

And so, whether the content on a site is relevant, interesting, engaging, etc. to a viewer or
not, that almost doesn’t matter if their experience using your site is frustrating.

There you have it, our reasons for how and why internal and external links in blog posts should open.  What do you think?  Is this something you’re going to start doing in your own blog posts?

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