When people click an external link on your site, there are two choices. Either the link will open in the same tab, or the link will open in a new tab.
If the link opens in the same tab this is adversely affecting your site in two ways; by visitors leaving your site and by increasing your bounce rate.
Visitors Leaving Your Site
If the link opens in the same tab, the person has now left your site when maybe they didn’t mean to. They just wanted to have a quick look at the other site or download something and come back and continue reading.
Once they’ve left your site, chances are they’ll get drawn deeper and deeper into the other site or click out of that site into yet another site and continue on their merry way. The next thing they know they’re several links away from your site thinking, “Drat! Where did that site go? Oh, never mind, I might find it again later.”
As a web surfer, I generally solve this issue by right-clicking on every link I encounter and asking for a new tab.
As you might imagine, this is quite time-consuming.
If the link opens in a new tab automatically the visitor still has the tab to your site open and can return to it if they want to.
An HTML link generally looks like this:
If it’s set to open in a new tab, it looks like this:
<a target="_blank" href="http://www.website.com">Website</a>
or like this:
<a href="http://www.website.com" target="_blank">Website</a>
In Blogger you have the choice to set each link to open in a new window:
That’s actually a misnomer because ‘New Window’ and ‘New Tab’ are different things, but what they mean here is ‘Open this link in a new tab’. It will automatically insert target=”_blank” into your link which you can see by looking at the HTML.
Besides the inconvenience to your visitors, the other reason to have your external links opening in a new tab is ‘bounce rate’. This is a factor used by Google to determine the relevancy of your content to a searcher’s query.
If a visitor comes to your site and then leaves quickly this is considered ‘bouncing’ which Google interprets as a dissatisfied searcher. That may or may not be true but Google has to determine relevancy somehow across billions and billions of web pages. Right now they handle the majority of web traffic so they can, and do, affect who visits your website. The higher your ‘bounce rate’ the lower that page is ranked in their search engine.