One of the main things that all we all want is traffic. After putting all your hard work (and sometimes money) into getting visitors to your website, you would have to be a complete loon to want to send them away, right? Well, I’m sure that none of us actually WANT to send our visitors away, but are you doing it without intending to?
Think of Your Links
I’ve visited many, many blogs and the majority of them are very well designed and are clearly doing their job well. But sometimes, I’ve come across a little issue with certain blogs regarding their outgoing links.
Now, if you have any ads or affiliate links on your blog you’re hopeful that people will click on them, visit the site or offer you’re linking to and that this will result in your making some money. Of course, this makes good sense and it definitely works. But at what cost?
Let’s imagine that you have a promotional banner or link on your blog and one of your visitors clicks on it. How does he/she get to the destination? I’ve made two demonstration pages to illustrate the point. Here’s where my post gets all interactive and gets you involved….!
First, I want you to click the link below. When you arrive at your destination, just click on the link that you find there and then we’ll continue:
Okay, good. Did you notice how you got there? You left this page and went straight to the linked one. Now, imagine if that had been a promotional link on your site. What would have happened? In order for your visitor to reach the destination, they would have had to actually leave your site. Now, I’m going to give you another link. See if you can spot the difference between how you reached the page via the previous example and how you get there by clicking on this one:
Great! So, did you spot the difference? That’s right, the second link took you to the page by opening up a new tab or window (depending on your browser configuration).
What’s the Difference?
So, why should you care about whether your visitors reach the destination in the existing window or in a new one? This simple infographic highlights your three, basic types of visitor and what objective you should have for all of them:
Yes, you want to keep your visitors on your website. Let’s take each of those three examples and compare how their behaviour could differ greatly according to whether or not they’ve left your site:
- Joe stumbles across your site. He isn’t blown away by your content, but he’s curious by one of your banners so he clicks on it. He isn’t interested in the offer that he’s clicked on so he leaves the page and that is possibly the last you ever see of him.
- Sarah visits your site and likes what she sees. Perhaps she’s even visited before. She reads your content and totally relates to it, finding it interesting, helpful and informative. She decides to click on one of your banners to see what you’re promoting and likes the look of the offer. For whatever reason, though, she doesn’t buy so she leaves the page and goes elsewhere .
- Brian stops by your site. Perhaps he’s a previous visitor, perhaps not. Either way, he’s interested by one of your banners so he clicks on it, likes what he sees and buys the product. He leaves the page and goes elsewhere.
No matter whether or not they buy through your link, the end result is the same in each case – they all end up leaving your site. Now whilst it’s true that they could come straight back or return another day, there’s a big chance that they won’t, especially if it’s a first, fleeting visit. Do you have a high bounce rate? This won’t help!
If someone wants to leave then they’ll leave no matter what you do, but you don’t want to help them along! You want to keep people on your site for as long as possible. There are lots of ways that you can encourage people to stay on your site, but by having your outgoing links open in a new tab/window, you are allowing your visitors to check out what you’re sending them to while keeping them on your site. They are much more likely to check out further content on your site if it’s still there waiting for them after they’ve checked out your link than they would be if they’ve left your site all together.
So, how is this done?
Are You Drawing a Blank?
Okay, so unless you already know how this is done, you may well be drawing a blank as to how to do it. But a blank is exactly what you want! No, not on the sense of being unable to find the answer, but rather as a piece of HTML code. Now don’t panic, I’m going to show you how to do this.
The most straightforward way to open a link in a new tab/window is if you’re using a WYSIWYG editor. Usually this type of editor will include a little icon that looks like the link from a chain. This is your hyperlink button. What you would normally do is highlight the text or object that you wish to use as a hyperlink and then click on the button. This normally brings up a little window where you enter the URL of the link. But also there is usually an option to select how you wish the link to open. In this case, you would want to ensure that you select it to open in a new tab or window. And that should be that. Simple, huh?
The other way is a little more technical but it’s very straightforward and I will show you some example of the code now.
In the first example link above, the HTML code looks like this:
<a title=”Demonstration Page 1″ href=”http://glenn-shepherd.com/demo-page-1″>Please click this link to be taken to the first demonstration page</a>
This is just a basic hyperlink that, when clicked, uses the existing window to take the visitor to the destination URL. In order to make the hyperlink open a new tab/window you need this extra little bit of code:
That really is all there is to it! So in the second example link above, the HTML code looks like this:
<a title=”Demonstration Page 2″ href=”http://glenn-shepherd.com/demo-page-2″ target=”_blank”>Please click this link to be taken to the second demonstration page</a>
Notice that the target=”_blank” instruction is placed just after the destination URL. Make sure that you leave a space between the URL and the target=”_blank” instruction.
What if you want to do the same thing with a picture, for example, a banner ad? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. It’s exactly the same instruction: target=”_blank”. So if you wanted to have a new tab/window open up when you click on then you would do exactly the same as before, putting target=”_blank” straight after the destination URL.
So remember, you want to keep your visitors on your site for as long as possible. Not only does this help to keep your bounce rate down but it gives them the opportunity to check out more content, subscribe or click on further links that they likely wouldn’t have done if they’d have left when they clicked on your hyperlink.
*Note: The exception would be when internal linking to other pages on the same site, e.g. when linking to other posts on your blog. You want to make navigation around your blog easy and having all your internal links opening up in new tabs/windows each time makes things cluttered, confusing and annoying! So just think of it this way: internal links = no. Outgoing links = yes.
I hope that you have found this post useful. What other techniques do you use to encourage people to remain on your site? Please leave your tips in the comments section below. And don’t forget to rate and subscribe! 🙂