As you learn more about WordPress, you may occasionally come across references to the term blogroll.
A blogroll is a list of hyperlinks pointing to other websites or web pages displayed on your sidebar menu.
According to official WordPress documentation …
“The term ‘blogroll’ was originally used because it was a list of links to other blogs, but you can include links to any sites.”
You can display a featured links section on your sidebar or footer using the Link Manager plugin.
Before WordPress v.3.5 was released, Links were a built-in feature of the WordPress CMS. From v 3.5 onwards, the Link Manager section was kept hidden by default in new installations …
(WordPress Links Manager Feature – pre v.3.5)
(Post version 3.5 – no WordPress Links Manager)
If your site previously displayed this feature, then it will still be available when your site upgrades to a newer version. If you’ve never used Link Manager, however, or if your WordPress site installation is new, then this function will remain hidden – you will not see it displayed on the dashboard menu.
How To Add A Link Section To WordPress
You can add a link section to your sidebar menu by creating a custom menu, or use a plugin like the one shown in the tutorial below.
If you can’t see the Link Manager section when you log into your WP admin area you will need to install a plugin. In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to add and manage links on your site’s sidebar using WordPress plugins.
(Link Manager Plugin)
Use this plugin to restore the default Links Manager, even if you update WordPress to a later version or remove all of your current links.
Note: All this plugin does is add a single line of template code to restore the hidden feature. When we last checked, this plugin had not been updated for a while, but it should still work fine. If you don’t want to use this plugin, then use the one below instead, or contact us for help editing your template code.
Simple Links recreates the concept of the built-in WP Link Manager while addressing the shortcomings of the deprecated functionality.
Installing The Plugin
Let’s install the Link Manager plugin.
In the WP admin area, go to Plugins > Add New …
(Plugins Menu – Add New)
Click on the Install Plugins > Search tab, type in “link manager” into the search field and hit Enter …
Locate the plugin in the search results screen and click Install Now …
Activate the plugin after installation …
After activation, the ‘Links’ function will be restored to your dashboard menu area …
(Links management menu section)
Before you start adding new links, we recommend setting up your link categories. This way, you can assign new links to a link category you have already created.
To create a new link category, choose Links > Link Categories in the WP dashboard menu …
(WP Links – Link Categories)
You will be taken to the ‘Link Categories’ screen.
Enter information into the following fields:
- Name: What you type in this field is the link category name that will display on your site.
- Slug: The slug is the web address bit of the link category. Use only lowercase letters and do not include spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display a link category description. (Optional)
after entering your information, click the Add New Link Category button to save your new link category …
(Link Categories area)
Your new category will now show in the table …
Tip: Blogroll is the default link category name. Unless you specify a category when creating a new link, WordPress will automatically assign new links to the default category …
(Default link category)
You may want to change this to something better suited to your business. This will not only make it easier for visitors, but any new links that you add to the Links section will automatically be assigned to the new category name …
(Change the default ’blogroll’ to something better suited to your business)
To edit the default category name, hover your mouse over the item and click on the Quick Edit link …
(Editing the link category name)
Replace both the Name and the Slug with a new category name, then click on the Update link Category button …
(Update Link Category)
Replace the category ‘Blogroll’ with a name more suitable to your purposes (e.g. ‘Recommended’, ‘Related Items’ etc).
Let’s add a description for this link category. To add a link category description, click on the Edit link under the category name …
(You can add/edit the category description)
Enter your link category description field and click Update …
(Edit Link Category page)
Repeat the above process to add as many different link categories as your site requires.
Once you have set up your link categories, you can add new links.
Adding New Links
To create a new link, go to your WP admin menu and click on Links > Add New …
(Links – Add New)
This brings up the Add New Link’ screen in your browser …
(Add New Link page)
You can also reach this screen by clicking on ’Add New’ at the top of the main Links screen …
(Add New Link button)
The ‘Add New Links’ page includes a number of sections:
Name, Web Address & Description
This section is where you enter your link details …
(Name, Web Address, Description – Add New Link)
Enter information into the following fields:
- Name: Enter the category name here.
- Slug: The slug displays in the URL of the link category. It must be in lowercase letters and contain no spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display your link category description.
Categories & Target
After typing in your link details, select a Category and Target for the new link …
(Categories & Target – Add New Link page)
In the Categories section, select a link category you’ve already set up, or click on ’+ Add New Category’ to add a new category link.
Next, select a target frame radio button for your link in the Target section. This lets you specify how you want the link to open when clicked on:
- _blank means that when a visitor clicks on your link, a new window will open up in their web browser to display the information associated with the link. This allows your visitors to see the information without leaving your page
- _none means that when visitors click on your link, they will leave your site and a new website or page will load in your web browser window instead.
- _top opens the link at the top level of the frame system if you’re using frames. Don’t worry about this option if you don’t use frames, or if you don’t know what frames are.
Link Relationship XFN
This section provides some additional link functionality …
(Link Relationship (XFN) fields – Add New Link)
Link Relationship (XFN) – XFN stands for XML Friends Network – lets you define your relationship with the linked person. For example, if you work with Aiden Smith and you link to his blog, you would probably tick co-worker or colleague.
XFN relationships are optional for WordPress links. You can leave everything in this section blank and all of your links will still work. XFN makes the links defined on your site more understandable to some websites and search engines that use this information.
rel – This field lets you specify the ‘rel’ attribute that will be assigned to your link. The rel attribute is used to define the relationship between the current document and the linked document. For example, if you don’t want search engines to follow your link, enter nofollow into this field. Other ‘rel’ attributes include author, help, index, start, etc.
You can learn more about XFN by visiting the site below:
The last section allows you to specify Advanced features for your links (You can ignore this section, unless there’s a good reason to use it) …
(Add New Link screen – Advanced fields)
The Advanced section fields include the following:
- Image Address: Specify an image to be displayed with the link. Add the image URL and make sure that the image is small (around 16×16 like a favicon).
- RSS Address: If your theme allows it, the link’s RSS feed will be displayed next to the links.
- Notes: This section lets you add notes for your own internal reference.
- Rating: Add a rating score to the link if you would like to sort links by rating (see the ‘Links’ widget section below).
Type in your information into the above fields or just leave this section blank.
When you have finished adding your new link information, click on Add Link to update your link settings …
(Click on the Add Link button to update your link settings)
Note: If you select the checkbox next to Keep this link private, the link will not be visible when links are displayed on your site …
(Make links private by checking the box)
Making a link private lets you add a link and then toggle its visibility on and off without deleting it (this is useful if you want to have seasonal links) …
(Making links private toggles their visibility on and off)
To see a list of all your links, choose Links > All Links in your WP dashboard navigation menu …
(WP Links – All Links)
This loads the ‘Links’ page in your browser. The list of links displays your links and link information (e.g. URL, link categories, relationship, etc.) …
Tip: To display or hide options in the Links table, click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab at the top of the screen …
(Screen Options – Links screen)
Enable/disable fields on your table of links by selecting/deselecting their check boxes …
How To Edit Link Information
To edit a link in the Link Manager, go to the WP dashboard navigation menu and choose Links > All Links to bring up the links page …
(WP Links Menu – All Links)
Select the item to be edited and click on Edit to bring up the item’s link information …
(Editing your links)
Change your link fields …
(Edit Link page)
After you’re done editing your link, you can:
- Click the Update Link button to save and update your link details,
- Click on Visit Link to make sure that you have set up your link’s URL correctly (the link will open in a new window),
- Click Delete to delete the link if it’s no longer required …
(Update Link button)
How To Remove Your Links
To delete links, select Links > All Links in the navigation menu …
(WordPress Links – All Links)
This loads the ‘Links’ table in your web browser.
You can delete links individually, delete multiple links, or delete all links at once.
To delete links individually, hover your cursor over the link title that you want removed and click Delete …
(Delete your links)
To delete links in bulk, either tick the checkbox next to every item that you would like to delete, or select all links by clicking on the checkbox next to the ‘Name’ column header at the top of the list …
(Deleting multiple links)
Select Delete from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop menu, and click Apply to delete all selected links …
(Links: bulk-deletion function)
Your links will be removed …
(Deleted links notice)
Using The Plugin
Now that you know how to set up link categories and how to add, edit and delete links, let’s show you how to make links display on your website.
Installing the Link Manager plugin adds a ‘Links’ widget to your ‘Widgets’ section.
To access and configure your Link widgets, go to your WP navigation menu and choose Appearance > Widgets …
(Appearance Menu – Widgets)
This loads the ‘Widgets’ page in your web browser.
You will see that a ‘Links’ widget has been added to the Available Widgets section …
Drag the ‘Links’ widget to one of your widget bars and drop it wherever you want the links to display …
(Drag and drop your links widget to add it to your WordPress widget bar)
The Links widget offers various settings. For example, you can specify what information you want displayed about your links and how many links you want displayed on your sidebar menu …
(Link widget - settings)
You can also add multiple link widgets to your sidebar and footer. This lets you create and feature a number of different link sections sorted by categories throughout your site …
(Add a number of link widgets to your widget bars)
Select a link category from the ‘Select Link Category:’ dropdown menu …
(Link widget settings – Select Link Category)
You can sort links by Link rating, Link ID, Link title, or display links in Random order …
(Link widget options – Sort by options)
Once you are done configuring the Links widget, click the Save button to update your settings. A links should display on your site’s sidebar …
(Links can be displayed on a sidebar)
As the above example shows, you can display specific links to your site visitors (e.g. a list for a specific link category only), and add multiple lists of links to your sidebar menu.
Need help with widgets? To learn more about configuring widgets, refer to this article:
Link Manager – Additional Information
If you have loads of links, the Links Manager plugin allows you to easily administer these with sorting, searching, and filtering features.
You can sort links by hovering your cursor over the title of the column you want to sort and clicking on the little triangle displayed next to the column title …
(You can sort your links)
Finding Links Function
Type a search term into the search field and click the Search Links button …
(You can easily find your links with the search function)
Filtering Links Function
You can filter links by category …
(Filtering your links by link categories)
You can also search and filter links in the Link Categories screen. Use the ‘Search Link Categories’ button to search for link categories, or click on the links in the ‘Links’ column …
(Search and filter links in the Link Categories page)
This displays a list of all links grouped under a specific link category …
(Links filtered by category)
Links – Additional Options
If you plan to use links extensively on your website, or if you intend to add a ‘Links’ page to your site (i.e. not just add a links section to your sidebar), then you may want to look at using a plugin that can help you administer links.
(Link Library Plugin)
Plugin Download URL
The Link Library plugin allows you to output a list of all your link categories and a complete list of all your links together with descriptions and notes …
(Link Library links. Screenshot taken from Link Library plugin website.)
Link Library creates a page on your site that contains a list of all of the link categories in your Links area, and all links listed in these categories. You can select a sub-set of categories to display or not display, show only one category at a time, display a search box and find results based on visitor queries, display a form to accept user submissions that can be moderated by a site administrator, and even generate an RSS feed for your links so that your site users can be made aware of any additions made to to your link library.
To learn more about the Link Library plugin:
Congratulations! Now you know how to how to add and manage links to external websites and pages in your WordPress sidebar menu.
Go here to learn more about how to easily add HTML links in WordPress posts and pages:
"These tutorials have so much information and are easy to understand. If you use WordPress or plan to in the future these will help you with everything you need to know." - Valisa (Mesa, Arizona)