Have you ever clicked on a link in a blog post that took you to another website and you could not get back to the site you came from? There are many websites out there that “trap” you. Hitting the back button doesn’t work; you basically have to close that window to get out of the linked site. This is a pet peeve of mine, as it happens all the time.
If you are a blog owner, and you send someone to a site where they posted a great article about a relevant topic, or one that might be an interesting resource for your audience, chances are you just lost your reader.If they cannot get back to your site by hitting back, can you really rely on them remembering your URL, or how they found you in the first place? If it were me, I would not count on it.
I read or visit at least 50 blog posts a day. There are plenty of times I find interesting posts, then get sidetracked, and can’t seem to find my way back. When I started consuming mass blog entries, I began to notice this was a problem. That was when I realized the importance of links opening in new windows.
It was not a sexy realization. It was not something that blew my mind in a huge epiphany. But it did solve a puzzle: how do you keep people on your site while linking to other sites? Open each link in a new window! Seemingly simple, yet it required diligence on my part.
If all your links open in new windows, it means that your blog post will always stay open. When the person is done reading the link they can close that window, or even chase links from that link, and your original page will remain. So when they are ready to get back to the post where their great adventure in blogsite discovery started you are there waiting for them, instead of leaving them scratching their heads wondering where it all began.
Most blogging platforms have an easy way to insert your links. If you use WordPress, for instance, you click the little icon and in the “Insert Link” dialogue it gives you an option to “Open in new window” or “Open in same window.” You might not ever remember making this choice. If you don’t make the choice the default is to open in the same window. This is where being diligent comes in.
In the beginning it will not be easy. You will forget. You will do it for some but not for all. But once you get into the habit, it will be easy. Then you will be keeping people on your site while giving them wonderful links to explore. And they’ll always find their way home.