Why outbounds links are not good for our site

can anyone explain why outbound likns is not good for the site?

There’s nothing wrong with outbound links, it helps people find information on other sites.


the only thing i can think would be that it may take people off your site. I tend to put outbound links to open in new windows so they don’t lose my site, but even that can confuse some users

That’s a good way to encourage them to not come back. Fortunately they can override your use of that obsolete attribute and continue to open pages where they want so you will not lose everyone that way.

Yes, despite how much we as a site owner may want our visitors to stay, when they are done they are done.

The solution is to provide engaging content, not trying desperate “stay here” browser control tactics.

I have noticed this forum has two different external link methods. Anyone care to volunteer an explanation?

You lost me… what are the two methods

The first link in the following topic opens in the same page/tab. The second link opens in a new page/tab.

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I don’t see anything wrong with outbound links, really should be a decision on what you want to link to or not link to.

You are selling something, you probably don’t want to link to the same product on someone elses site.

You are selling something that users may not be fully able to understand, nothing wrong with linking to some self help site that will teach the customer. Once educated will be happy and will likely return to you for purchase if they choose to buy.

Now for links in new windows or tabs. I suggest using them sparingly, for example if to a different site I would let them go in the same tab, don’t hold them hostage. On the other hand if the link enhances the user and is part of your site maybe a new tab is in order. One sample of how I do that is I have a page that has simple rules for pets. On the page early in content is a small sample of restricted pets with a link to a full pdf list available. The pdf is simple with no links. This opens in a new tab. Should a visitor find the pet is allowed then they can close the window and continue on.

Other than the above situtation all of my links take the visitor directly to the new site or page of our in the same window or tab my site was in.

On a side note if you don’t want to really anger the visitor never ever use the script trick asking the visitor if they are sure they want to leave, if they click the link they want to leave.

Opening link in a new tab/window is just bad. The elderly and others non-web savvy people can get very confused by such practices, my mum in particular can’t understand why the back button doesn’t always work (like it should), and I’ve lost count of the times I’ve closed dozens or 100’s of tabs in her browser when she’s told me it’s running slow.


Perhaps it is time to install a userscript that strips out the obsolete target=“_blank” attributes from the page (if her browser doesn’t already have an option built in for overriding that attribute.

Not sure you can do that on an iPad?

Exactly, it was a tough decision on figuring out if the document should be a new tab or same tab.

I don’t like new tabs but when trying to decide which is better it seems plausible that if the linked to document does not look like a web page it may be better in a new tab since the pdf has no navigation.

I work with a lot of retirees and have found that both closing tabs and using the back button can be an issue, however working with these folks I find the issue is not as wide spread as one would think.

When linking to the pdf I note that it will be a new tab.

The first link is an internal link, which will always open in the same tab. The second link is an external link, which will open in a new tab because that’s how you currently have your preferences set.

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I have noticed that Article Topic summations have a link to the full topic that opens in a new page/tab?

Because articles are on the main SitePoint site, not on the community.sitepoint subdomain, so in that respect are “external”. Only actual forum links are treated as internal.


Thank you, now I understand.

I think external links depend on your audience.

You clearly have an extremely good web/IT background but most of the audience of our sites would not have even the first clue as how to override it. I also wouldn’t say it was obsolete as it would/should be removed from html if that is the case, and as above PDFs that open in a browser in my opinion should be opened in a new tab. The amount of times i’ve shut a tab to realise that i’ve just closed the site i can’t count.

I personally prefer new tabs as i can’t stand losing a page that i started from especially if there are a few different external links i want to quickly look at.

Sitepoint site reviews drives me mad as if someone posts a link to review their site i click on it and it take me away from sitepoint i then have to click back and wait for sitepoint to load again. Why? i know i was going to need sitepoint open to continue providing a review i only wanted to see the other site for a short time! Yes i could right click and open in a new tab but sometimes i forget. Closing a tab is faster than pressing back through a couple of pages.

Guess it comes down to personal choice.

Definitely agree on the ‘are you sure you want to leave’ issue though. Proper bad practice!

just thinking… to clarify i meant ‘new tabs’ within a browser not ‘new window’ sorry for the confusion if that was the case. Don’t know if that changes peoples opinions or not.

What you say doesn’t matter - it is the standards that matter.

It was declared obsolete in 1997 when HTML 4 was first released. It was one of the many HTML 3.2 codes originally scheduled for removal in HTML 5 but because most sites are still written in HTML 3.2 it has been retained. Still doesn’t mean you should use it as it breaks your site for the large percentage of your visitors who don’t know how to fix it who will therefore never visit your site again as it is broken.

If you don’t use it then you are not eliminating any of the choices your visitor has as to where the link opens - they get three if you don’t try to remove one.