Mastering Shopify External Links: A Comprehensive Guide

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Understanding the Importance of External Links
  3. Customizing Shopify to Open External Links in a New Tab
  4. Best Practices for External Linking
  5. FAQ Section

Introduction

Did you know that the small detail of how an external link opens from your Shopify store can majorly influence your customer's experience and your store's bounce rate? The decision of whether an external link should open in the same tab or a new one might seem minor, but it significantly affects user engagement and time spent on your site. In the ever-evolving digital marketplace, understanding and implementing Shopify external links effectively can serve as a strategic asset. This blog post aims to dissect the intricacies of integrating external links within your Shopify store. By the end, you'll grasp not only the technical how-tos but also the strategic whys, positioning you to refine your online store’s user experience and potentially enhance your site’s SEO performance.

We'll explore everything from why opening links in new tabs matters, to step-by-step guides on customizing your Shopify theme to support this functionality. Whether you're running a vintage theme or Shopify's Online Store 2.0, we have got you covered. Stand by to discover tips, examples, and insights that could set your Shopify store apart in the vast e-commerce sea.

Understanding the Importance of External Links

External links serve as bridges to other destinations on the web, offering a path from your store to additional information, partner sites, or affiliate products. However, the way these links function can drastically impact your customer's journey and their likelihood of returning to your store.

Opening external links in a new tab keeps your website accessible to users, potentially decreasing bounce rates and improving engagement metrics. It ensures that visitors can explore additional resources or products without losing their place on your original site, creating a smoother and less interruptive browsing experience. Especially for e-commerce, where every second counts towards conversion, mastering external link usage can be a game-changer.

Customizing Shopify to Open External Links in a New Tab

Why Choose to Customize?

The default setting in Shopify doesn’t offer a straightforward checkbox to open external links in new tabs. This limitation, however, opens up an avenue for customization, allowing you to tailor your site to align with optimal user experience practices. Let's dive into how you can customize your Shopify store to open external links in a new tab, enhancing user retention and satisfaction.

Implementing the Change in Vintage Themes

For those managing vintage Shopify themes, a bit of manual code editing is required. Adding a snippet of JavaScript to your theme's code can ensure all external links open in a new tab. This involves locating your theme's JavaScript file, typically titled global.js, and appending a code block that programmatically adjusts the behavior of external links. The essence of this code is to check each link's hostname against your store's hostname and, if different, set it to open in a new window or tab using the target="_blank" attribute. Additionally, adding rel="noreferrer noopener" to the link tag can further enhance security and SEO.

Modern Shopify Themes: The Dawn Theme Example

Modern Shopify themes, including the Online Store 2.0 themes like Dawn, might require a slightly different approach due to their updated architecture. Nevertheless, the foundational concept remains the same—editing the theme's JavaScript file to include a block of code that gives external links the target attribute of _blank. This modification not only applies to themes directly but also serves as a basis for tweaking apps and customizations that introduce external links to your Shopify store.

Best Practices for External Linking

While technical implementation is crucial, understanding the best practices for linking externally can amplify the benefits of this feature. Here are some guidelines:

  • Use Wisely: Not every external link should open in a new tab. Reserve this for links that lead to complementary information or resources, ensuring your store remains easily accessible.

  • Maintain Consistency: Ensure a consistent experience across your store by applying this behavior uniformly across all external links where appropriate.

  • Accessibility: Consider the accessibility implications. Screen readers and those with specific navigational preferences might experience the site differently. Including brief notifications that a link opens in a new tab can enhance accessibility.

  • Performance: Be mindful of the potential impact on site performance and user experience. Opening too many tabs can strain system resources and overwhelm users.

FAQ Section

Q: Will customizing external links affect my store's SEO?

A: Implementing external links to open in new tabs properly should not negatively impact SEO. If anything, by improving user experience, it could have a positive effect.

Q: Can this customization be reverted if needed?

A: Yes. By accessing the code snippet you added and removing or commenting it out, you can revert to the default behavior.

Q: Is it necessary to customize each external link individually?

A: Not necessarily. The beauty of adding a JavaScript snippet is that it programmatically applies the target _blank attribute to all qualifying external links across your store.

Q: Does Shopify offer support for these customizations?

A: Shopify offers support for themes and might assist with minor customizations. However, for extensive custom coding, consulting a Shopify expert or utilizing community forums for guidance is recommended.

Q: Are there any tools or apps to simplify this process?

A: Yes, Shopify offers apps like Outlink that allow for more intuitive management of external links, including setting them to open in new tabs. These apps can be especially useful for those uncomfortable with direct code manipulation.

In conclusion, mastering Shopify external links by enabling them to open in new tabs is more than a technical tweak; it's a strategic decision that enhances user experience, potentially improves engagement metrics, and can even positively influence SEO. Whether you're hands-on with your store's code or prefer to use Shopify apps, taking control of how external links work on your site can provide a subtle yet significant boost to your e-commerce success.