Final Debate: Should Links Open In Same Tabs Or New Tabs?

Here’s one thing that bothers me on blogs (including yours, sorry) – I cannot stand it when hyperlinks do not open a new window. For example, I clicked on one of the links in this post. That page had a link I wanted to check out and so I clicked on it. Before I knew it I had gone off the beaten path and accidentally closed the window thinking your post was in another window. Then I had a hard time finding you and this post again.
My suggestion to bloggers is to have links open new windows so they can easily come back to your site and continue reading your posts. -Curt on Ultimate Blogging FAQ.

Curt made this comment on Monday. This made me think a lot. Should links open in same tabs or new tabs/windows?

I have thought about making a final decision but hey, can I make a decision myself only?

A large part of this blog is YOU! The reader.

So, why not you make the decision?

[poll id="13"]

My take on the issue.

For: Links Should Open In New Tabs

Here are some reasons that make me think that new tabs approach is good:

  1. It Retains Readers: Just like Curt got lost, many others can too. Opening links in same tab can cause this problem. New tabs mean that people do not get lost when surfing.
  2. It Reduces Bounce Rate: When visitors does not go away, he never "bounces"! So, the bounce rate is reduced a lot this way.

Ok, I am thinking. I am thinking. I am still thinking.

No more points?

Well, that's natural because I do not generally favor links opening in new window.

Against: Links Should Never Open In New Tabs

Now, I am sure I can fill pages on this topic. But let's keep it simple! Here are my thoughts:

  1. Gives User Control: Since you are using the blog, you should have control over how you navigate it. Right? If links open in same tab by default, this keep users belonging to "open links in same tab" as well as "open links in new tab" camps happy. How? First camp automatically gets what it wants. And second camp can easily right click and select "Open In New Tab" or Ctrl + click the link.
  2. Reduces Clutter: It's not that I am going to start a clutter management blog or business anytime soon but I hate clutter, specially with software. Too many tabs make working difficult and I am sure many would have same opinion. Opening new tab after new tab for every new links reader clicks might not be good in this sense.
  3. There's A Back Button: Back button is the most frequently used button in browsers. If you have good content, reader will come back. Just take Curt's example. He said he had trouble finding BWS but he did come back. (Looks like my posts are developing some kind of magnetic field! ;) )

Final Decision Is Yours

As I said, readers are most important. So, tell me:

  1. Should Blogging With Success and other blogs open links in new tabs?
  2. Why?

Thanks for taking time to read the post. Do not forget to share!

About Ishan Sharma

Hi, I am a young Blogger from India. I am very passionate about blogging and also co-founder of Blogging With Success. I write about general blogging tips and WordPress. You can read other posts by me here.If you need help, feel free to contact anytime!

Comments

  1. Hello Ishan,

    I believe the same. Links should open in new tabs. I also know that youtube videos shouldn’t be click-able. If the visitor go from your site to youtube, you lost him!

  2. This was always pretty clear cut for me. Links that lead to another page on the same site should open in the same window.

    Links that lead to a page off site should open in a new window/tab. There. Done.

    Site content should retain the reader and opening bazzilion windows is a shitty way of reducing bounce rate. Its a very sleazy internet marketing technique that reeks of desperation.

    I thought everyone knew this lol

  3. I have always been an advocate of links opening in a new window. Readers and page retention is very important. When links open on the current window it takes readers’ attention from the main article and that is not good for your visitors. The link is supposed to be an additional resource, not that it should take them away. You do want them to read the hyperlink later after they have finished reading the main article. So the open in a new page helps to achieve this objectivity. Or else, you would have only succeeded in confusing your readers as they can’t get a handle on what they ought to be reading per time.

    • Hi Tito,
      Thanks for sharing your opinion. That pretty much fully gets my vote and I have now started making links open in new tabs.
      Thanks for commenting.

  4. I’ve made it a habit to always right click and open all my links in a new tab on firefox. I’ve gotten used to it now and it’s far better, especially if i don’t actually want what i see on the next page. I don’t think it will make a difference for me having your blog links open in new tabs, i do it anyway.

    • Hi Peter,
      Well, I have this habit but only partially! I sometimes open the links in new tabs and sometimes not.
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your opinion.

  5. i know users can come back by using back button if they my content has any interest for them but what if they start navigation on the new page and go deep and deep. Thats why I don’t want to take risk and always use “open in new window” option for outgoing links.

  6. Hi Ishan,

    Personally, I make sure my links open in the same window if the link is somewhere on my site. If I link to someone else, I make sure that the links open in a new window, so it depends ;) Thanks for sharing

  7. Does both of these affect SEO?

  8. Hi Ishan,
    I personally always set my links to open in a separate window/tab. When I am surfing around the web I do however right click on links and select open in new tab, just in case that blogger or web owner has not set them to open in a new tab.
    I do agree with Curt on this one.
    There are SEO benefits apparently to having the links open in the same tab. I will try to find the article.
    Pete

    • Hii Pete,
      Thanks for sharing opinion. Well, I read exactly opposite somewhere that new tabs don’t work well with search engines. Anyway, do tell me when you find the article.
      Thanks for commenting.

  9. Link should open in new tab. Many times while reading articles we are not sure that the interlinked article would be useful or not thus if the links open in new tab it will be good for readers to check both the articles same time and don’t have to navigate again and again.

    • Hi Ruchi,
      Thanks for commenting and sharing your opinion. I agree with you that navigating again and again is of course confusing.

  10. It should open in the new tab. That way the reader will keep reading what he was reading. Thanks for this idea. I was not having this in my mind.

  11. I prefer links opening in new tabs even if it is a post on the same blog. That is how I voted here.
    But I am not that affected by it because I got used to open links with right click > open in new tab (I use Firefox).

    It is annoying when you are reading a post and you click on a link in the middle of it and you are transferred to another place. I am ADD so I forget where I was and hardly ever come back.

    • Hi Brankica,
      Thanks for telling your opinion. I have also got used to opening new tabs manually but only in certain situations. I thought people don’t like new tabs but looks like times have changed!
      Thanks for comment.

  12. Great debate here Ishan

    I keep my links on my main site as open in the same window but for affiliate niche sites, I always try to remember to set them on new window for specifically the reasons you said – keep people longer on the site and reduce the bounce rate.

    • Hi Murray,
      Thanks for sharing your opinion. Well, I also do the same for my main sites and thought it was good. But Curt’s comment made me ask readers and eventually, we have a whole army that wants new tabs! :)
      Thanks for commenting.

  13. If the links on a website open in new windows, I will not be back. Ever. If they open in new tabs, I may be back, but I’m going to have to need the content awfully badly.

    I make a conscious decision every single time I click on a link, as to whether I want it in a new tab or in the tab I’m in now, and if the site takes that choice away from me, I will not be back. I don’t care what you’re selling, I don’t care what you have to say — take control of my choices away from me, and I’m gone.

    • Levi – you don’t play! I can tell that you’re a man who know’s exactly what they want.

    • Hi Levi,
      Thanks for your opinion. New windows! That is something I hate a lot too. I have set my browser to open them in new tabs at maximum. I agree with you, in that case, I will also leave.
      New tabs leave a chance but not that big.
      Well, I agree with you. If my choices are taken away, I am not happy.
      Thanks for the comment.

  14. I have been thinking a lot about this as well, and I haven’t really decided 100% what I prefer. Well, I know that I prefer that they open in the same window so I can decide what I want to do with it (if I want to open it in a new window, a new tab or not). But, for instance, when it comes to banners and affiliate links in the sidebar, I want them to open in a new window. That’s because they’re external links and I want my readers to stay on my blog for as long as possible.

    So, what I’m saying is that external links should open in a new window. That’s what I’m thinking although it’s not what I’m doing (I’m still opening all my links in the same window, because that’s what I prefer on other sites) :)

    • Hi Jens,
      I also prefer links opening in same tabs by default. When I want something to open in new tab, I do it with right click or mouse gesture.
      But looking at the feedback, I think new tabs are a good option.
      Thanks for commenting.

  15. I am 100% for having links open in a new tab or window. I’ll try to remain brief, but let me bring up some points:

    1. Like you said, it retains readers. I’m a blogger that makes money by sending people away via affiliate links. Nothing wrong with that at all. I need readers to leave and go buy something so I can keep operating my blog! Once they get done wherever I sent them, if that link didn’t open in a new tab or window, chances are they aren’t going to hit the back button to get to my site again. This way, my site is still open and they can keep reading my content.

    2. While I agree that anyone can right click and choose to open a link in a new tab, my gut tells me there are a LOT of people who have no idea that’s even an option. I would much rather that the links open in a new tab, because I think that satisfies the majority of readers out there.

    I think when you get down to it, opening links in new tabs is the best way to keep people on your site. Bloggers work too hard on their posts just to send their readers somewhere else and leave their own blog somewhere in the background.

    • Hi Trish,
      Thanks for your opinion.

      I’ll try to remain brief

      No need to limit yourself! We love long comments! ;)
      Regarding #1, I think that’s most important thing(retaining visitors) and new tabs are good for them.
      About #2, I agree. Many have no idea about this option.
      I am soon going to make links open in new tabs.
      Thanks for commenting.

  16. Great information Ishan! Being new to the game, I was curious, at some point, on what the norm is regarding this very topic. After a while I forgot this topic, but seeing the results to the poll, and your feelings towards it gives me the direction I need to use target=_blank…I think that’s what it is! Thanks Ishan!

    • Hi JK,
      Well, like most things on internet, this one has no norm. Some people favor new tabs, some prefer same tabs.
      I am also getting the same feeling to open links in new tabs. I will son start implementing it.
      Thanks for commenting.

  17. I’m with Curt. I *hate* it when links open in the same window. I operate with the tabs principle – I always want links to open in a new tab. It would be easier if all links did that automatically, so I wouldn’t have to use the manual method. I am doing numerous things at one time. If I don’t open a new tab, I will likely lose the original site I was looking at and never make it back, even if it does have great content. And, if I have to look for it, that’s a waste of time that I could be spent doing other things – like reading that site, following it, or commenting on it. :o) FYI – I currently have 10 tabs open! I try to keep it at that – or less – because, if I have more, I can’t see the ones at the far right unless I scroll over to them. I am working on the concept of staying focused on ONE thing, getting it done, and then closing the tab. But, well, I’m a multi-tasker…and a homeschooler with 3 kids…so sometimes I get distracted! ;oP

    BTW, I look at it like this, when I link an item in my blog, it is MY blog. I publish it. I don’t get paid for that. I get to choose. If someone wants to pay me to do it differently, I’m listening. LOL!

    • Hi Cara,
      Thanks for your opinion. I guess new tabs are good option for retaining readers. Currently, I am thinking about making external links open in new tab and internal links in same window. What do you think about that?
      Yep, your blog. Your options. But readers are the supreme power! So, I gave decision to them this time! :)
      Thanks for commenting.

  18. Ishan, Thanks for asking you readers this question.

    Allow me to respond to your “against” arguments.
    1. I have five sites of my own and consider myself web savvy. I feel stupid admitting this, but I never new about the right click and select “Open In New Tab” or Ctrl + click the link. Sad, I know, but If I didn’t know about it, many of my readers may not either.

    2. I work with 5-10 tabs opened at the same time, all the time. It helps me work better because I can easily switch back and forth to different sources and sites when I’m working, or when I’m just surfing around.

    3. When I lost your article the other day it was because I had accidentally closed the tab thinking your site was the other tab I had up. I couldn’t remember your blog name. So I had to go back to Daily Blog Tips (where I found one of your posts that led me here) to get the link to your site again. I normally wouldn’t have bothered with all that, but I wanted to leave the comment this post is based on.

    Having said all that I really appreciate that you take the time to consider your readers thoughts and feelings. I came to your site originally because you personally responded to every comment on your Daily Blog Tip post. I thought that was pretty impressive. Keep up the good work.

    • Hi Curt,
      Well, here are my thoughts.
      1. Well, I agree. Many people might not know about the new tab options.
      2. Yep, that is productive. But I sometimes find it distracting. Just my personal opinion. Nothing hard! ;)
      3. Looks like I will need a memorable name! ;) On a serious note, sorry for that confusion. Links will soon start opening in new windows.
      Thanks for your feedback and kind words. Hope to see you around more.

  19. Ishan, I have to take Curt’s side on this one. As the blogger myself, I always use “new tab/window” links in my posts unless I am linking within my own site. If it’s my site, I keep it all in the same window. Not really sure why I made that a standard, but it works for me. If I’m commenting on someone else’s blog and want to reference another site – like THIS ;) – I use “new tab” links so it won’t distract your readers from your intended post. :)

    • Okay, scratch that, my HTML code still linked within your site window. Forget what I said. :)

      • Hey Bryan,
        The code transformation is a usual WP problem but no problems, I saw the code via admin options. I guess you wanted to add target = “_blank” attribute to a tag as that opens in new window. Thanks for opinion. Looks like I will have to make links open in new tabs soon!
        Thanks for commenting.

  20. I think it all depends. If the link is something on your site than it doesnt matter. Now if its a link from another site you should open it in a new tab

    • Hi Edwin,
      Thanks for the great tip. I think that is a good solution, at least here in my scenario as most people want new tabs(unless more readers join me in anti new tab movement!)

  21. Hi Ishan,
    I’m with Dan too. I like to open new windows for the same reason. Plus what Curt said, I hate it when I lose what I was looking at because I didn’t press the back button. Maybe if everyone did the same, one way or the other!

    Thanks,
    Peggy
    P.S. Liked the survey!

    • Hi Peggy,
      Thanks for commenting. Well, I will look if we can make all the links open in new window.
      Thanks.

  22. @ Dan, I’m totally agreed and I too want that links should open in new windows.

  23. I like it in new tabs. Often while I read an article for example I want to see right away what is behind a link. But I don’t want to forget about the first article. This is way I prefer links to open in new tabs :)

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  1. [...] by Ishan on January 21, 2011 · 0 comments In my last post, I asked whether links should open in new tabs or not. [...]