This Tiny Tech Mistake May Be Driving Away Your Hottest Web Prospects

Real Estate Agent with United Real Estate Partners, LLC LA #0000042692

What if I told you that there’s one tiny tech mistake that I see smart agents make on their websites and blogs-- again and again-- that could be costing you a lost commission every month?

Would you want to know what it is and how to fix it? 

Here's what I'm talking about:

As good bloggers and site owners, we all link out from our sites from time to time.  Oftentimes, you’re pointing your visitors (prospects) to outside resources that they might find valuable, such as the websites of local schools, utility companies, local government or community organizations, etc.

Now, there’s one thing that’s even harder than getting people to visit your site in the first place, and that’s getting visitors to engage with your content.  Lead conversion experts agree that visitors that take actions, like clicking on links are often your hottest prospects.

Tiny Tech Mistake

Here's the BIG question:

When your visitor/prospect clicks those outgoing links, does it automatically open a new tab or window in their browsers, leaving your page still open?  

Or do "clickers" just leave your site (i.e. your page is replaced with the “new” website page in the same browser tab or window) and go about their new business, with each new click taking them farther and farther away from your site?

If the second scenario is what happens on your website or blog (just click on some links yourself to find out), you’ve got a problem that needs fixing.

Why This is a Problem

See, if you send them away from your site to do something else... distracting them from where you really want them to be... and don’t provide an easy way for them to quickly return….  Well, how many prospects are you losing because they didn’t think to click the "back" button on their browser once or twice or 5x or 10x to get back to you?

Scary, huh?


Every outgoing link should always open automatically in a new tab/window.

(By the way, I've seen a few sites open internal links [to other pages on your own site] in new tabs, too. Please don't do that. It's just freaking annoying.)

Let’s look at how to fix this problem or better yet, make sure it doesn’t happen in the first place.

In ActiveRain:

Good news. ActiveRain did things right! The default option when you create a link in a post is that it opens in a new tab/window. You’d have to purposely change it to screw it up. :-)

ActiveRain Outgoing Link Setting

In WordPress:

If you're using WordPress, the default is to open a new link in the same tab/window, which is exactly what we don’t want for external links. But it’s easy to remedy by checking a little box when creating your link in the visual editor.

(Remember, when you’re creating a link to another page on your own site, you actually do want the new page to replace the current page. This makes for “normal,” easy navigation.)

WordPress Link Settings

For Other Websites:

If you're doing old-fashioned HTML linking for some reason, like on the agent site your broker provided or some other older style site that doesn’t use WordPress or another modern CMS (content management system), just make sure your link structure includes the tag: "target=_blank"

So, if I were linking from my website to the local parks department website, it might look like this:

<a href="" target="_blank"> Local Parks Department</a>

If you learned HTML a long time ago, you might have learned it this way: target="new"  "New" has been deprecated (as the coders say) in favor of  "_blank". You’ll definitely want to use the newer tag for best results.

So, when you have time be sure to check all of the outgoing links on your sites (at least the most important ones, if you have a big site), or better yet, have an assistant or VA do it.

And stop sending your hottest web prospects away! :-) 

[Image Credit "Whoops"]

Comments (89)

Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Jay & Michelle - I'm not an SEO expert either, and I think unless you are, it's a losing battle to try to get inside Google's increasingly fickle "brain." However, I do follow SEO trends broadly, and on this I would (and I do) follow what Google has always said its main focus is: Improving the user experience.

In my experience, most web users prefer to be able to go back and easily return to the page that they just clicked out from. This little technique helps them accomplish that, while also being in your own best interests. :-)

Raymond, Colton - Glad to hear you were already on the right path. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Helen & Larry - It is, indeed, often the little things! And you're very welcome. 

Jon, Trisha, Jeffrey, Karen, Matt & Molly - I'm glad that you found the information useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Aug 29, 2013 09:03 AM
MichelleCherie Carr Crowe .Just Call. 408-252-8900
Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900! . DRE #00901962 . Licensed to Sell since 1985 . Altas Realty - San Jose, CA
Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years

Thanks for the reminder to set up any outbound links to "open link in a new window".

Aug 29, 2013 10:52 AM
Jimmy Faulkner
Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage - Wantagh, NY
The Best Of St. Augustine

Oh how we can lose customers who move off of our site when we offer a link that they are interested in. You do not want to lose the customer once you have them on your site so be careful and check with your IT person.

Aug 29, 2013 12:09 PM
Cheryl Ritchie
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Huntingtown, MD
Southern Maryland 301-980-7566
Thanks for the valuable trick. This is a good reminder to check the WP selection!
Aug 29, 2013 01:46 PM
Praful Thakkar
LAER Realty Partners - Andover, MA
Andover, MA: Andover Luxury Homes For Sale

Craig, very important 'trick' if you can consider it as a trick.

Many of us are NOT tech-savvy so leaving it to VA is the best.

Aug 29, 2013 01:59 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Donny, Mary Ann, Gita, Laura, Lyn, Kelle, Jay, John, Sharon, Jimmy, Cheryl - I'm glad that you found the information useful. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

Hella - Ugh! I really hate that, too! A lot of the time, I think it's a glitch that has do with the type of scripts that the website runs, but sometimes, I'm pretty sure those suckers do it on purpose! *grrr*

Carla, Suzanne, Scott, Michelle - Glad to hear you were already on the right path with this one. Thanks for stopping by. :-)

Praful - Absolutely... better to hand it off entirely than attempt to do absolutely everything yourself. Too many agents make that mistake!

Aug 29, 2013 04:39 PM
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

Craig - This is something I learned was important right here on AR.  Good suggestion.

Aug 29, 2013 04:51 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Thanks, Christine! 

Aug 29, 2013 05:34 PM
Gary Frimann, CRS, GRI, SRES
Eagle Ridge Realty / Signature Homes & Estates - Gilroy, CA
REALTOR and Broker

I know about this tip, and I, too, am surprised when agents send away business by not opening in new tab.  Amazing.

Aug 29, 2013 05:54 PM
Daniela Schmidt
Keller Williams Lifestyles Realty, Brokerage - London, ON
Daniela Schmidt, Sales Rep, Keller Williams Realty

Great advice! I will check my blogs asap!

Aug 29, 2013 09:06 PM
Jack O'Neal
HomeSmart Elite Group - Gilbert, AZ

Great stuff,  I am looking at my sites next

Aug 30, 2013 01:57 AM
Pam Graham
All Real Estate Options - Jacksonville, FL
Jacksonville, Clay & St Johns Counties

I do great remembering to open external links to another window, but I think I've checked that same box in WP for internal pages too. Oops.

Aug 30, 2013 05:30 AM
Gay E. Rosen
Julia B. Fee Sotheby's International Realty - Larchmont, NY
As Real as Real Estate Gets!

Craig  -I rushed over to my blog site and Phew. I am okay.. Wordpress does it automatically for me..  THank you  so much for the tip though. I appreciate it.

Sep 02, 2013 08:59 AM
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Craig, I learned this some years ago and it is astonishing to me to see how many sites there are out there that do not open in a new tab. It's frustrating when you are searching because sometimes I do lose the site and can't remember how to get back to it. Great suggestion!

Sep 02, 2013 12:28 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Gary - Yup. It's so simple once it's brought to your attention, but for many folks, it just never occurs to them.

Daniela, Jack - Thanks!

Pam - Opening a new tab for internal pages may make sense in a very few circumstances, like when linking to a contact form, but in most cases, it can be confusing to the visitor. Probably best to change that.


Sep 03, 2013 03:03 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Gay - Yes, depending on a few different factors, WordPress default settings can vary from blog to blog, so it's always best to double-check. :-)

Sharon - It is surprising how many sites get this wrong, and there are quite a number that should really know better! Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Sep 03, 2013 03:06 PM
Janis Borgueta
Newburgh, NY
Retired RE Salesperson

A great tip for knowing how to keep visitors on the website. The only time I change it when I'm writing on ActiveRain is when I make a link to my WP site. Then I would prefer them to engage me there.

Sep 03, 2013 06:23 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Janis - Smart! And a good point. There are always exceptions. :-)

Sep 03, 2013 06:43 PM
Lynn Pineda
eXp Realty - Boca Raton, FL
Real Estate Promises delivered in SE Florida

Craig, great advice. I came to your post from Janis Borgueta sharing it on Google+.  I thought I was doing this correctly on my site and double checked - phew! I'm okay. Good post.

Sep 04, 2013 01:10 PM
Craig Ernst
United Real Estate Partners, LLC - New Orleans, LA

Lynn - It was very nice of Janis to share this. And I'm glad to hear that everything was "correct" when you checked. But be sure to keep this in mind if you start in any new sites!

Sep 06, 2013 08:30 PM