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When (Not) To Use Target=”_Blank” Link Attribute

When (Not) To Use Target=”_Blank” Link Attribute

More and more sites are using target=”_blank” for links to make sure they will open the link in a new window and keep the visitor on the site.

I confess, I am using them myself because I assume the visitors are using Firefox browser that opens those links in a new window.

But is it really a wise thing to do?

When Target=”_Blank” Can / Should Be Used

There is the fundamental law of the Internet ethics that says that you let the visitor decide how he wants to open the links. So (especially) when your target audience consists of technically sophisticated users (like SEO audience for example), be warned that they do not like new windows. They also know how to open a new window or how to prevent a new window whenever they want.

The cases when the attribute can (and is encouraged to) be used are the following:

  • To link to a PDF document mostly because when it is first followed there’s often a delay while the browser loads up the plugin and PDF (and thus you can let the visitor read more information on the current page while the document loads).

It is also a wise thing to do to warn the visitor of the type of the file he is going to download and how the link will open:

<a href=”document.pdf” target=”_blank”>Document</a> (PDF 13K, new window)

  • To link to “supplemental information” like help files or additional information that would ordinarily clog up the topic with tangent data.

Target=”_Blank” Versus Other Ways to Open Links in a New Window

JavaScript methods versus “target=”_blank”

  • Target=”_blank” will always open a new window or tab exactly the same size as the original, covering up the original and can be extremely confusing, especially if the user clicks and looks away for a moment. With a Javascript method, you can control the size of the window so that’s it’s VERY obvious it’s a new window and you can still see the parent behind it.
  • Obviously, JavaScript method won’t work if JavaScript is disabled. Besides, it will prevent the search bot from crawling the page.

Target=”_blank” versus Target=”new”

Here’s an awesome explanation: Using _blank as a target value will spawn a new window every time while using _new will only spawn one new window and every link clicked with a target value of _new will replace the page loaded in the previously spawned window. Try it out for yourself:

Links with target=”_blank”

Google | Yahoo

Links with target=”_new”

Google | Yahoo

Additional reading:

  • Check out this excellent reference source explaining various target attributes;
  • Also, make sure to take a look at this
    coverage of HTML target attributes.


Featured Image: Deposit Photos


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Ann Smarty

Brand amd Community Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas

Ann Smarty is the blogger and community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. Ann's expertise in blogging and tools serve as ... [Read full bio]

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