Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Keeping Your Blog Visible

Have you ever noticed not all hyperlinks are created equal? Some links open a new browser window. Your reader can see the new page, but the original page - your blog - is still active on the screen. For example, if I wanted to tell you about a wonderful independent bookstore in Katy, TX, but I wanted this blog to stay active, I could give you link like this one - click here to learn more about Katy Budget Books. If you click this link, you should have two browser windows open. One for this blog and one for Katy Budget Books.

This is different from the typical link that takes the reader completely away from your blog or webpage. Both kinds of links have their uses. For example, if I wanted you to spend the day perusing my website, I could provide a link like this, Official Web Site of Mark and Charlotte Phillips. When you click this link, the web page replaces this blog. You only have one browser window. If you want to come right back, you can do that by by clicking the back arrow at the top of the browser window. But what if you spent some time investigating the website - clicking the links that take you to some of the other pages? How many times would you have to click that back arrow to return to this blog?

When do you use each kind of link? You'll have to decide that for yourself. I have a simple rule that I follow. Any links that take the reader away from my site launch the new site in a new browser window. Links that simply take the reader to another page on my site do not.

Are you wondering how to do this? The command is very simple, but you will have to touch the html. You'll be adding a very short phrase to you href link: target="_blank"

Yes - it is really that simple, but you have to place the phrase in the correct place.

If you create links by typing the html commands, then you are familiar with the "a href=" command and can skip to step 4.

If you create links any other way, follow these steps:

1) Follow your normal process to create the link
2) Display the html (in blogger, click the "Edit Html" tab)
3) Look for the words that you turned into a link. They will be surrounded by text and symbols you didn't type.

  • The opening bracket "<" tells the browser that a new command is coming.
  • The next symbols a lowercase "a href=" says what kind of command and is followed by the web address you provided for the link. The web address is surrounded by quotes - "http://..."
  • This is followed by a closing bracket ">" and finally, your link words.
  • Last is the closing command - "/a" surrounded by brackets "<>"

4) You want to put your cursor between the closing quote for the web address (bullet #2 above) and the closing bracket that follows the web address (bullet #3 above). Then type or paste target="_blank" - the whole phrase, including the quotation marks.

You're almost finished. You want to publish your post. Go to the new post and test the link.

How'd you do?


Anonymous said...

Good stuff - now I can USE this info - thanks!

Pauline B Jones said...

When I first started my own webpage, waaaay back when, I had to learn html, but then I got Microsoft Front Page. It does all that stuff for me, behind the scenes. But since Microsoft isn't updating the program, it's good to know how to do the html!

thanks, Char. :-)

Helen said...

I've been trying to do this, but don't know html, so I was floundering. I'm going to try it on tomorrow's post, since I've already done today's.

Thank you!

Cherri Galbiati said...

GREAT blogging! Your info you are sharing is wonderful and informative. Thank you for de-fogging the complication to some of the html stuff.


Anonymous said...

Not at all a bucket of mush! Thanks for sharing. This is a great blog, informative and interesting


Lillie Ammann said...

I follow the same practice of opening new browser windows for external links and using the same window for internal links.

There have been some interesting discussions about this issue on some of the "authority" blogs. The consensus seems to be that techies don't like the new window command—they know how to open a new window themselves if they want it. However, readers who are less Internet-savvy prefer new windows because they get lost trying to find their way back to where they started. Although I consider myself reasonably Internet-savvy, I prefer new windows. And since most of my readers aren't techies, I think they prefer new windows as well.

WordPress lets you choose the target of a link when you write the post without having to go into the HTML.

Emma Larkins said...

Genius! Genius, genius, genius. Thank you so much for the information. I've gotten into html a little bit since starting my blog, and I'd figured out how to set the link text that appears on the blog. But I'd never even thought of this! Based on Lillie's comment, I might start out using them sparingly, but I'm glad to know how to do it.

Holly Jahangiri said...

It's actually a little more complex than that, but that's a good start (and more than many ever need to know):

Attribute values of type FrameTarget must begin with a letter in the range A-Z or a-z, with the exception of the following special values that begin with an underscore:

* _blank renders the link in a new, unnamed window
* _self renders the link in the current frame (useful for overriding a BASE TARGET)
* _parent renders the link in the immediate FRAMESET parent
* _top renders the link in the full, unframed window

In HTML 4, the TARGET attribute value is case-insensitive, so that _top and _TOP both have the same meaning. However, most browsers treat the TARGET attribute value as case-sensitive and do not recognize _TOP as having the special meaning of _top.

Source: http://htmlhelp.com/reference/html40/values.html#frametarget

Holly Jahangiri said...

P.S. You could also use target="charlotte" if you wanted to name your new window after yourself. Or you could have target="writing_tips" and target="humor" and target="rants" if you wanted to open new windows and direct the link to open in them based on predefined categories.