Over the past decade, presumably to try to help their websites rank higher in Google, most websites just don’t link out to others anymore. It’s common to read a news article that mentions an event or a video, but then the article doesn’t link to the source. That’s not by accident, as they’re trying to preserve link equity on their site, but they’re creating a worse experience in the meantime.
This doesn’t even get into the awful ideas about taxing links…
Personally, I find sites that link to other sites to be of more value, as that’s essentially how the web was built. Back when I wrote for Google Earth Blog, that was literally almost every blog post — sharing a great new website or resource, and then linking out to it. People left our site all the time to view the things we shared, but they came back because they knew we were a good resource.
I try to do the same on here. Most of my posts will link out to details on a book, or a reference to a site, or some other resource that you might find valuable. Those links cause you to leave the site, but hopefully they help you appreciate the value of my sharing those links.
Open in a new tab
A solution some sites employ is to open all external links in a new window to “keep people on the site”, but that’s often ill-advised as well (as I mentioned back in 2017) for a few reasons:
- It can be bad for accessibility. For users that have trouble using the web, opening in a new window (creating confusion and breaking their “back” button) is not good.
- It can be off-putting. When I visit our power company site and click “log in”, they always open that in a new window, presumably so I can come back and see all of their wonderful initiatives later. No, I’m just here to pay my bill.
I realize that much of this post is wishing for something that will never be what it once was, but I still appreciate and recognize sites that look to provide true value to their users versus finding ways to trap them on their site.