During a hangout, one SEO professional asked John Mueller about using the target attribute in a link, and how it would matter for SEO.
Their question was related to the way that links are added.
They explained that one of their technical members has added links in the form of _self, or _target, or _=blank.
How are Google bots able to crawl these things? Or, do they understand that there are links added to this particular node?
They explained that these kinds of structures are present for most of their clients and he doesn’t know 100 percent because they use different types of crawlers like Screaming Frog, and they are able to detect these links.
But they aren’t sure how Googlebot would be crawling these links.
John explained that for the target attribute, he believes they just ignore it on Google, because this makes more sense from a browser point of view.
What happens, usually, is that the target attribute, as far as John can recall, refers to how this link should be opened.
So, if you have a frame on a page, then it will open that link in a frame, for example, or in a new tab, those kinds of things.
From Google’s perspective, they don’t care, so they ignore the target attribute.
This happens at approximately the 44:00 mark in the video.