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3 Hypertext Link Attributes

We’re going to look at using link attributes today.  You probably already know that stands for hypertext reference but did you know you could enhance your links to make them more ‘user friendly’  and help with search engine optimization?

We’ve discussed the different types of links in a couple of previous posts: 5 Common Types of Links – Part I  and Part II.   But, today we’re going to look at three (3) ways to configure hypertext links – specifically those links that take the visitor to another page.

The use of a bit of additional code inside the tag, will allow us to:

  1. Open the link in a new Window
  2. Create keyboard shortcuts that act as links
  3. Add a title that will display when the cursor is placed over the link and can be used for keywords

We’re going to take a closer look at these three  different attributes below.  The HTML code will be shown in blue.

Open Link  in New Window

For our discussion today, we’ll only be addressing links that open in a blank window. However, there are other ways to specify the window. If you would like to learn more about the other HTML targets,  HTML for the World Wide Web with XHTML and CSS, Fifth Edition  is an excellent reference.

By default, links open in the same window containing the link. However, if you have multiple web sites or if you direct your visitors to another off-site page, having the link open in a new window can be helpful and valuable.

  • Convenience of having the ‘linked’ page stay open enabling the visitor to go back and forth between pages.
  • Once the ‘linked’ page is closed, the viewer will still be on the linking page. This can be of great value if you are linking to a page other than your own and you don’t want to lose your website visitor

To accomplish having a link open in a new window, you would designate the ‘target’ inside the link tag as follows:

Link_Name_Here

Note:  For all examples, we’re using the domain name for our link, but you can use any link address you like.

When coding for targeted links, it is well to remember:

  • Target names should always be enclosed in quotation marks
  • Like link names, target names are case sensitive
  • Use target=”_blank” to open link in a completely new window

Open Link Using Keyboard Shortcut

Using a keyboard shortcut allows the visitor to use a combination of keyboard strikes to access a link. This is an action you may – or may not want to use (not a favorite of mine) – as it does have some drawbacks. However, in certain situations, it can be effective.

As when using a ‘target’, this code is placed inside of the link tag. If you wanted to use a keyboard shortcut, your code might look like:

Link_Name_Here (Alt-W, Ctrl-W)

Notice that information on the shortcut has been placed after the closing to let the visitor know there is a shortcut for this link. And since Windows uses the Alt, while Mac users Ctrl key – you would probably want to use both to eliminate confusion.

If you decide to use a keyboard shortcut, it is well to know that they do not work in all applications depending on:

  • The browser the visitor is using
  • Whether or not the page is written in frames
  • The letter(s) you choose. Since Alt-F accesses the file menu in most Windows programs, if you use Alt-F as a keyboard shortcut, your visitor will not be able to use the keyboard to access their browser’s File menu. In this case, those who may not understand that their browser’s shortcut has been overridden by the ‘keyboard shortcut’ on that page may be either annoyed or concerned, and discontinue use of the page.

It’s good to know this option is available, but if you plan on using a keyboard shortcut, test the link(s) to see if they work – making sure to test in all browsers.

Four (4) Uses for Title Attribute

The title=” ” portion of the link tag allows you to assign a bit of text to the link. This can be used to:

  • Let the visitor know they will be viewing the information in a new window
  • Assign a different name to the link, i.e, title=”John’s BBQ Recipe” where the link may be a single word – BBQ
  • Give the name of the alternate website the visitor will be taken to
  • Let the visitor know they will need to take an action on the new page, i.e. Register for our newsletter, Get information here, etc.

For example:

Link_Word_Here

If a relevant keyword is being used in the text as a link, you don’t want to repeat the same keyword in the title portion of the link tag. However, if you are linking something other than a keyword, you may want to use a keyword in the title=” “. Remember, in either case,  you do not want to repeat or stuff keywords.  This is a big no-no, and next time we’re going to look at how Panda and Pequin can affect your website’s ranking.

An example of this would be:

Link_Word_Here

Hypertext links are more than just linking. They can be used for convenience, as well as, informing the web site visitor.  Also,  you can use more than one parameter inside the hyper-link tag. Just place the attributes you want to use one after the other with a space in between –  making sure each piece of information following the action (target=” ” or title=” “) is contained in quotation marks.

Final Thought

Once you’ve completed your web site, you’ll want to know if any of your links are broken? Try using the free service offered by http://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ . They’ll index up to 500 pages for free and build you an xml sitemap  you can upload. They charge a one-time fee of $5.00 per website to access the information to any broken link. But for  lifetime access, it’s well worth it.

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