Hyperlink Etiquette

Are you using hyperlinks properly? During my time programming and fixing webpages, I’ve noticed that there is a common misconception about linking. If you’re concerned about your site’s success, this article will benefit you!

I have been asked many times when to open a link in a new window and when to keep it in the same window or framed. Some people feel its easier to just open the link in the same window. The overall attitude some people have is that it doesn’t matter, but in fact It DOES matter!

Lets say you’re a small business owner, and as you go through one of your competitor’s website, you notice that one of the links you click on goes to a page very similar to one of your own. It looks just like your website except that your competitor’s name and contact information is on the page too. At first you think that this person has copied the content of your website and forged it in their own, but as you investigate further, you discover that someone has framed your website! Now your competitor is using your bandwidth, your storage space, and your article and making it look like his own while taking credit for it! You contact them and ask them to remove the frame, only to find out that they had not ment to frame it to being with. They simply liked your article and wanted to link to it as a resource.

If you are not sure when to open a link in a new window, just ask your self this question: “Is the page I am linking to a page on my website, or on somebody else’s website?” If it is a page on your own website, then keep the link in the same window. If the page is on someone else’s website, then open a new window. I have very good reasons why you should do this.

When creating a hyperlink to a page on another person’s website you should always open it in a new window, unless they have specifically given you permission not to. If you open another person’s website in the same window, a visitor on your website will go to that other website, and never return to yours. If your website depends on people buying products or services from you, you want to keep them on your own website.

You should still open another person’s website in a new window when you are using frames as well. You might be able to frame someone else’s website, but since it IS someone else’s website, you have no control over the content or the programming placed on the other website. All to often I have seen Website-A frame Website-B only to have the Website-B’s website eventually break Website-A’s frames. Many websites have whats called a “frame-breaker“. Its called this because when someone tries to frame a website with frame-break code in the page, it takes over the entire window, and the frames dissapear. You might be able to frame a page on someone else’s website successfully, but if a visitor continues to browse through that other website, they may eventually click on a link that takes them to a page with a frame-breaker.

An exception to the rule of opening a new window when linking to another person’s website is when the other website explicitly wants you to frame their website or keep it in the same window. This is sometimes true when certain web services, news or similar affiliate services, allow you to frame their content as your own. These types of services you normally pay extra for to allow the other website to create and maintain content for your website to use.

So remember, if the content you are linking to is located on your own website, you should open it in the same window. If the content you’re linking to is on someone else’s website, open that content in a new non-framed window. You’ll be helping the other website, as well as your own.