Why it is a good idea to open links in a new tab, and how to do it on the blog/ website

Opening links on a new tab is now a normal browser behavior.

When you place a link on your website or blog, it can either open on the same tab, thus replacing the open page, or it opens in a new tab. 

When tabs first appeared on web browsers, they were lapped up by people though they looked annoying to some. And when tabs had become a norm on desktops, came mobile browsing in a big way. Initial mobile phone browsers did present a problem when a link opened in a new tab. 

Some diehard fans of 'single window, single tab' user experience still don't like links opening in a new tab but majority find it a better option.

The older lot also argue that tabs are being abused by many advertisers and therefore should not be there. You by chance hover the cursor over an ad or a text link and it quickly opens the ad in a different tab; not only that, the ad tab opens on top of the genuine tab. But such obtrusive ads can come in many other ways; only because some are misusing it should not make us shun it.

The main reasons why I recommend that links should open in new tabs are:
  • The reader can keep reading the original article and would visit the link (which is staying quietly in a new tab) later. There is no distraction in reading the original or the linked article. 
  • Many readers do not come back when the new page replaces the original one. This diversion leads to visitors leaving the site/ blog, thus hurting SEO and monetization.
  • Readers who get a new page on top of the original page (in the same tab) often get confused, as they have not yet finished the original article. Moreover, if the visitor clicked a link on the first page, and then clicked a link on the new page and then clicked a link on the third page, he would not be able to read any article the way it is written.
  • Though it is always an option to come back to the original page by pressing the 'back' button on the browser, that generally takes one to the beginning of the article and not the place up to where one had read the article before clicking the link. 

Let's see how tabs affect browsing on mobile phones. While doing research for this article I installed and checked all available browsers on mobile phones. I found that most browsers have tabbed or single pane browsing as two options available in 'settings'. All new browsers have a small corner where the number of hidden tabs is shown. Now most sites and blogs are mobile friendly; that further removes the pain that used to be when the mobile window used to be cluttered and any other tab would make the things even more confusing. 

How to make links open in new tabs

Opening of a link in a new tab is a standard HTML attribute to the LINK tag. If you don't know ABC of linking and are curious about what it means, let me explain:

All pages/ posts that we make on a website/ blog are written in the standard web language called HTML. When you want a particular word or picture to link to another web page, you insert the following in the HTML code of that page:

<a href "linked page URL" >text which becomes linked</a> 
[The text written in blue has to be replaced with actual expressions.]

Now, you want this link to open in a new window. You only have to add target="_blank" within the HTML tag. 

Let me give you an example of a link that opens in a new tab:

I opened the HTML of this post on blog editing window of my platform (i.e. Blogger) and at the present location pasted the the following expression:

<a href "http://indiantopblogs.com" target="_blank">India's Best Blogs in one place</a> 

What it has done is that it has written the words India's... and linked them to IndianTopBlogs website. When a visitor clicks on it, it opens the ITB website in a new tab on his browser.  

Blogger and Wordpress give this option of opening link in a new tab when in the post editor or page editor, you provide hyperlink to a word/ phrase. If your blogging platform or site builder software does not have this option, just add target="_blank" and there you are! You can use this anywhere where you give a hyperlink using HTML tag <a></a> .

HTML for blogging

For those interested in more details:

The target attribute can also be used with images and area (as part of image maps).

In case of images, target is part of <a> tag itself. <img...> has to be placed within <a> and </a> to make it hyperlinked, like this:
<a... target="_blank".. >

If you want to make parts of an image hyperlinked, the target attribute is to be within <area> as follows:
<area 1... href...target="_blank"...>
<area 2...... target="_blank"...>

Are all Indian blogs impacted by new GST taxation law? Questions answered

Indian blogs and GST

Brief points about Goods and Services Tax and why this post

India has ushered in a massive indirect tax reform by introducing GST in place of a number of indirect taxes that were being levied till now. It is applicable throughout India. The erstwhile sales tax, service tax, excise duty, etc all are subsumed in it.

There is clarity about GST applicability and rates when people and firms do traditional businesses. Blogging is mostly a very desegregated, individualized activity in which the blogger sells its blog space for selling his own or others' goods directly or through advertisements or other arrangements. The income streams are often varied and small, except for established bloggers who earn millions through blogging. There is a lot of confusion on many aspects of applicability of GST to blogging. Let's clear some cobwebs.

How is blogging in India impacted by GST?

Blogging is a service that the blogger provides. Under GST, being a service, it needs to be registered and taxed according to the applicable provisions.

There is no doubt that blogging comes under GST. The income coming from advertisements, affiliation, sale of e-book/ software etc through the blog - all come under GST. However, like other services, it gets exemptions under limits or activities specified in the Act or rules.

Provisions in GST relating to blogging

The following specific provisions of CGST/ IGST seem to relate to blogging: 

Section 24
The  following categories  of  persons  shall  be  required  to  be  registered under this Act:
xi) every  person  supplying  online  information  and  database  retrieval  services  from  a  place  outside  India  to a  person  in  India,  other  than  a  registered  person [etc]

Explanations (in different sections)
14. (1) On supply of online information and database access or retrieval services by any person located in a non-taxable territory and received by a non-taxable online recipient, the supplier of services located in a non-taxable territory shall be the person liable for
paying integrated tax on such supply of services:
Provided that in the case of supply of online information and database access or retrieval services by any person located in a non-taxable territory and received by a non-taxable online recipient, an intermediary located in the non-taxable territory, who arranges or facilitates the supply of such services, shall be deemed to be the recipient of such services
from the supplier of services in non-taxable territory and supplying such services to the non-taxable  online  recipient  except  when  such  intermediary  satisfies  [etc]

(16) “non-taxable online recipient” means any Government, local authority, governmental authority, an individual or any other person not registered and receiving online information and database access or retrieval services in relation to any purpose other than commerce, industry or any other business or profession, located in taxable territory. 

(17) “online information and database access or retrieval services” means services whose delivery is mediated by information technology over the internet or an  electronic  network  and  the  nature  of  which  renders  their  supply  essentially automated and involving minimal human intervention and impossible to ensure in the absence of information technology and includes electronic services such as,––
(i)   advertising on the internet;
(ii)  providing cloud services;
(iii) provision of e-books, movie, music, software and other intangibles through telecommunication networks or internet;
(iv) providing data or information, retrievable or otherwise, to any person in electronic form through a computer network;
(v) online supplies of digital content (movies, television shows, music and the like);
(vi)  digital data storage; and
(vii) online gaming;

16. (1) “zero rated supply” means any of the following supplies of goods or services
or both, namely:––
(a) export of goods or services or both; [etc]

This article in Economic Times tried to explain the matter, followed by similar others. What has happened is that instead of clarifying the doubts in the mind of blogger, these have made the matter even more confusing. 

This series of articles have said that
(i) if a blogger earns more than Rs 20 lakh (=2 million), he needs to register for GSTIN and pay GST [implying that those earning less need not pay GST];
(ii) the tax rate would be 18%; and
(iii) there would be no compensation (refund of tax credit etc).

The topic has been better discussed in a number of taxation websites and forums. We have contacted some CAs and also raised queries on some online forums to elicit answers to bloggers' questions. The general opinion is as follows (and there are different opinions on some aspects):
  • In theory, all bloggers who earn from their blogs come under the purview of GST as they are in the 'business' of providing services.
  • When the earning of a blogger takes shape of business income earned by selling services, it would be necessary to register, pay GST and file returns. Such bloggers were already required to pay Service Tax @15%, now that tax turns into GST and goes up to 18%.
  • There are moderate to severe penalties for not registering, not filing returns, not paying tax and hiding income.
  • As of now (unless there is a clarification from CBEC or a case law decides against it), it is strongly felt that AdSense income will not invite GST, it being treated as export income because it is currently being received from Google Singapore in convertible value of foreign currency.
  • Incomes received from India-based affiliates, affiliate networks or advertisers would definitely come under GST. 
  • Payments received on sale of ebooks, music, software, etc through the blog will definitely invite GST.
  • It does not matter whether you have an office or work on a laptop while sitting in your hostel room. If you earn income, it is taxable. 
  • [added:] After 6th October, 2017, there is clarity that bloggers earning below Rs. 20 lakh per year need not register for GST.


What should I do as a blogger?

If you are a small blogger and earn a few bucks, do not worry. Concentrate on blogging and be alert. On this very blog, we'd keep updating bloggers about new clarifications on GST.

For Blogger blogs hosted by Google, the company has come out with a notice to update GST details and that in future its payment notices will be GST compliant. That should also not worry you. Update your details if it asks you for that. 

For your AdSense income, sit back and keep alert about any clarifications. As of now, if the payment is coming from a foreign office of Google, don't worry at all.

Beware that Google may decide to start invoicing India-based advertisers and then paying India-based bloggers from their India office. If that happens, there may be invoices sent to you along with payments so that you calculate your GST liability. That may not happen soon.

If you make a large income through other sources using the blog, you should better consult a tax consultant.  Consultants too are not sure about interpretation of different legal provisions and rules, so their advice too is not yet final.

This is just the beginning. There is a lot of mix-up and systems are not in place even for brick-and-mortar businesses. Things will take time to clear up. Government is already talking about a 2-month window for taking all businesses on board. Blogging will not be among the priority businesses.


We are not tax experts. The opinions and suggestions given here are based on our understanding of GST's applicability to blogs based on our study of government documents, advice available on the web and advice sought individually from experts. Bloggers may take their own decisions and make sure that they do not break GST or any other law. 

Best Indian blogs 2017: fashion, travel, parenting, tech, photo, personal blogs and many others

You would know that each year since 2011 we have been releasing the list of top Indian blogs in alphabetical order, followed by a category-wise listing of the Indian best blogs.

This year, we have a new category of blogs on parenting. On the other hand, we did not find many good blogs on sports and so have dropped that category. We'd be able to include lifestyle category from next time only; this time, blogs claiming to be lifestyle blogs have been included in the major category to which they belong (e.g. fashion). Many blogs with good resources on more than one niche have been included in more than one category.  

More details on the categories are available on the page listing the top Indian blogs listed category-wise.

As has been the trend, a majority of blogs in the blog list are personal blogs and those with comments on all things on the earth, with no significant resources on other categories. But only because they are not 'professional' blogs or are not focusing on earning money from the blog does not mean they are any less; in fact, some blogs in the personal category are eminently outstanding.

best of Indian blogging

How to choose the right font and text style for yout website or blog

Updated: August 2017
Answer these 5 straight questions to see whether your website or blog has the right type of text or you need to take some corrective action.

1. Is your website/ blog for reading or viewing? 
If mainly for reading, does it read well?

Blogs and other websites either have a lot of text or images/ videos/ podcasts. If there is a lot of text to read, any flaw that makes reading difficult hurts the website. For such types of websites, take care that-
  • the text size is big enough (but not too big);
  • the text is in dark color on a white or light background (or the reverse); 
  • the font is with rounded edges, such as Verdana or Helvetica or Georgia (not like Times New Roman);
  • the text is normally typed, not italicised, not in ALL CAPS;
  • there is no distraction from an underlying image background

2. Does your website have large passages of text? If yes, does it flow well?

If the site has a lot to read, take care that-
  • the reading column is wide enough so that the text does not flow down endlessly and eyes do not have to move left-right too much;
  • the prose is composed in small paragraphs;
  • the passage is broken by sub-titles, bullets, highlighted text, etc

In this BBC News story, there are paras of just single sentences. It helps assimilating the content.

3. Are you sure, the text does not distract smooth reading?

Whether small or big passages, whether title or body text, the text should not be such that it is too playful. If it is, that becomes word-art, and has a purpose other than focused reading (e.g. it can be used as an image with a famous quote).

Take care that-
  • the font is not too flowery;
  • the text is not unnecessarily colored;
  • when the text is differently colored, it is uniformly done (e.g. all sub-titles can be red while the body text is black);
  • the text is not animated

(Fun sites and kid's sites are an exception; these can have funky colored text. But here too, the main text should read well.)

4. Is the website for a special group? 

  • Websites for the aged and those with poor vision need bigger text size. The text may be in white, on the black slate, for greater contrast and less eye-strain. The links should be bold and have a contrasting color.
  • Handicapped people need text (and links/ buttons) arranged in a way that not much clicking or scrolling is needed.
  • If you are a big organization, please have an accessible version of the website/ blog.

5. Is your site mobile friendly?

On mobile, websites render well in single column.
With more people accessing websites on mobile phones, this is a must. 
  • Wordpress and Blogger have in-built option to show the blog on mobile phones in a single column.
  • Websites should either be 'responsive' in terms of web design, or should have a mobile version.

In August 2017, we see BBC Sport website going for a new font. Called BBC Reith, this font will be part of overall design sprucing that the BBC plans to do and 'will be easier to read, and clearer, especially on small devices', says BBC Blog
Related posts:

We have dealt with this topic in detail in other posts. If you have time and inclination, you can go to these resources:

i...This detailed post is dedicated to use of proper fonts on blogs and websites. We've discussed how the font type, its size, contrast and other characteristics are important for the website.
ii...On this post on text color on blogs, we've discussed how the color and of text determines readability. Text color also adds to or spoils the blog's personality.
iii...This post is specifically on choosing the right font for your website, and what fonts are available free.

Trump, Modi teach social media discretion, and how! ... and other social updates

You need to be discreet, social media tells conceited presenters

Trump and Modi, the two most followed global political leaders have taught a lesson to indiscreet television celebrity presenters in an interesting way.

Donald Trump is known for his indiscretion on social media and public life elsewhere. But that does not allow Kathy Griffin, the comedian, to hold a bloodied head of Trump on her show. Initially defiant, she later sought apology for her action when she was roasted on the social media. I went way too far. The image is too disturbing. I understand how it offends people, she had to state publicly.

Well, it was not 'too disturbing' in the case of Narendra Modi, but social media made a senior journalist to pay for not knowing that he is one of the most followed world leaders on Twitter, nearly as popular as Trump. Megyn Kelly launched her show for NBC News with an exclusive interview with Russian President Putin and Indian PM Modi last week. In her chat with the Indian PM before the interview she asked him, "Are you on Twitter?" You can imagine the type of responses she got on Twitter itself!

trump on mediaComing back to Trump. Trump has tweeted that the mainstream media is bent on throwing him out of social media. He followed it up by saying that if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH. Let's watch how the mainstream media reacts! 

Is Instagram causing mental health issues?

Instagram is seen the worst among social platforms when it comes to mental health of the youth.

In a recent study of British young people (aged 14 to 24 years) by the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH), young people and youth said Instagram was the most negative among popular social media platforms in terms of mental health and well-being. They judged the five most popular platforms as follows:

  • YouTube (most positive)
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Snapchat
  • Instagram (most negative)

At this link, you can visit the mental health and social media report.

And here, one of our earlier snippets on social media and well-being

Mary Meeker's report on internet

Meeker has regularly been releasing her report on Internet Trends. Her latest report is mostly affirmation of earlier trends, but as it is the latest let's have a look at some major trends:

  • There are likely 3.4 billion internet users at the end of 2016 and they are growing at a nearly constant rate of around 10% per year.
  • Online ad revenue has, for the first time, exceeded that of television, growing at 22% per year and mostly driven by mobile. Facebook and Google are growing the fastest in getting ad revenue. 
  • Ad blocking is picking up, especially in developing markets.
  • Voice recognition apps/ assistants are now able to recognize human voice up to nearly 95%. That's fantastic indeed, no?
  • Video gaming is the most engaging online activity, with Asia taking lead in terms of engagement and revenues.

In case you missed...
We could not bring you social media updates in the last four weeks as we were finalizing the Directory of Best Indian Blogs. So, some social media and blogging snippets from the recent past:

A Russian court has convicted a 22-year old blogger, Ruslan Sokolovsky, for a video on YouTube, in which he was seen playing Pokemon Go in a church.

Before being pulled down, the video was viewed 1.6 million times!

Russian blogger with pokemon go

The blogger was not immediately jailed as the 3.5 year blasphemy sentence was suspended. He, however, was under house arrest for last many months.

Facebook has started cracking down on clickbait sites, the ones that serve ads on the go as we browse the FB stream.

FB's news feed is now beginning to have less of such ads, especially in the top part of the feed. Expect fewer ads of magical sex-boosting, body-building solutions and cheap gadgets. Let's see how effectively it works, because YouTube, Twitter and other platforms are also trying to check poor quality content, obtrusive and misleading ads, hate/ crime/ child porn visuals etc, but with only mixed success.

British PM has blamed internet for terrorist attacks that have taken place in recent months in the UK. She has wanted a global regulation of cyberspace to prevent it from allowing safe spaces to terrorists. While 'free speech' warriors are upset with that, Australian PM has echoed her viewpoint and has called upon social networking sites to proactively tackle terrorism related content.

Some internet experts say, the issues have become too inter-twined to be solved just by sanitizing Facebook or Twitter.
Ethiopia shut down internet for nearly 12 hours to check cheating in countrywide exams.

Well, cheating through social sites or apps or tech gadgets is rampant, and authorities the world over are struggling to check this, with limited success. 

Some countries such as Ethiopia and Algeria can afford to pull the plug but can others do that? Even when it is known that terrorism in Kashmir was being propagated through social media, the Indian government did block out internet for some days but could not sustain it for long.

Releasing the 2017 Edition of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs

The 2017 edition of Directory of Best Indian Blogs has been released today.

We toiled a lot but gold is what we've found!

We went through thousands of Indian blogs, shortlisted them over many rounds and finally distilled the list to about 300 blogs. In doing so, we made more than 200,000 page visits  during the last four months. 

This time, we also sourced Twitter to find new blogs and we found hundreds of good Indian blogs linked to Twitter. We could take only about two dozen such fine blogs because others did not meet our selection criteria. But the labor was worth it as some blogs are really very good.
As always, you will find a  bouquet of good quality Indian blogs in this Directory, all contributing appreciably to the richness of overall Indian blogging. All may not be outstanding in ALL quality parameters but they excel in content and are passionate bloggers, even if not so outstanding in terms of engagement or design. 

We try to be most objective in finding top Indian blogs

When in doubt (e.g. when the there were spelling or grammatical mistakes or the design was not so good or navigation was poor, and we felt like dumping the blog), we posed this question to ourselves: 'Does this blog contribute to the Indian blogging world with its thought and experiences, will adding it add value to the Directory?' 

In some cases, we had to interact with some otherwise good bloggers, advising them to remove some very obvious flaws in their otherwise good blogs - an unwanted pop-up, an unending blog list, gaping white space between paras, too many ads on a personal blog and so on. Such bloggers have (mostly) obliged by making amends. Some otherwise plain blogs have also been included because of their socially relevant cause.

We had to leave behind some excellent blogs on/ in  India because we could find no clue about their regularity or their posts were stacked like static pages on a static website. Similarly we had to filter out blogs with no disclosure at all about the blogger's relationship with the brands they reviewed. Blogs that are run by commercial entities or have big editorial teams have also been excluded. We'd try to bring a separate list of otherwise good Indian blogs, if time permits. 

topmost Indian blogs

We've included blogs in which the content was good but the blogger had no control over anything except the content [blogs on captive platforms e.g. indiatimes.com].

The blog list wouldn't include Huffington Post but, yes, Seth Godin!

[If you do not know why we've taken these names, HuffPost is an enormous blog run by a big firm and Seth Godin is an individual blogger with huge following.]

You might have this question in mind: Why does Top Blogs not include some top-rated blogs that you find in blog lists issued by others. Let's explain. 

As we have amply clarified elsewhere, we do not include blogs as part of corporate or media portals. We also filter out blogs in which earning is the sole motive. Blogs maintained as static websites, comprising mostly of automated content and web magazines are also out. 

In India of today, there is no bigger social media personality than PM Modi. Modi's blog is ironically the most apt example of what we can't have here. When he was Gujarat CM, he maintained a personal blog, which was in our top blog listing for many years. Now he has a portal, and it has a more modern look and huge resources, but it is not an individual or collective blog. (In a corner of Modi's massive portal lies a blog which, btw, is not updated since 2015.) So is the case with the second biggest media personality in India, Shashi Tharoor. We can't include his personal site in the Directory, though it is more regularly updated than many regular blogs.

Similarly, we can't have Indian counterparts of HuffPost, Mashable. Yes, we would have Seth Godin's blog and Blog Tyrant here if they were Indian.

Now, the Directory.

You can access the Directory here: Best Indian Blogs, the list of outstanding Indian blogs listed alphabetically. We'd soon come out with category-wise listing of the Directory.

Inclusion of a blog in this Directory is no certificate from ITB. We do not take responsibility for any inappropriate content of any type including defamation, plagiarism, use of inappropriate text and audio-visual material, etc carried by any blog listed in the Directory, though at the time of Directory compilation, we took due care not to include blogs with inappropriate content in the Directory.