Adding a target=”_blank” attribute to an A tag has long been seen as a way to keep users on your site. This logic is fatally flawed (i was under the impression that this was commonly agreed upon, however i’ve had to argue the point with a few people recently).
Firstly, what does target=”_blank” do? this attribute makes a link open in a new window (or new tab in some more modern browsers) – the thinking used to be that the user was therefore STILL on your site as well. However this concept breaks the standard usability in the browser: the back button stops working – often times leaving the user confused. Furthermore, advanced users will automatically use CTRL/APPLE click to open links in new tabs anyway, so this functionality has no real purpose.
Keeping a copy of your site open as well as the link that your user wants to see was often seen as leading to longer visit times on your site – however this statistic means nothing if there is a window in front of your site that is showing the user different content.
Also, if a user clicks on an external link from your site and they don’t want to come back and keep reading your content, then you having sneakily left a copy of your site open behind the link they clicked is more likely to irritate them than help them – and the last thing you want to do is irritate your audience.
So don’t target links to _blank.