As you discover more about WordPress, you may occasionally come across something called a blogroll.
In WordPress terminology, a list of links displayed on your sidebar menu is often referred to as a blogroll.
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 links on your sidebar using the Link Manager plugin for WordPress.
Before WordPress v 3.5 was released, Links were a built-in feature of the WordPress CMS. After v 3.5, the Links manager and blogroll sections were kept hidden by default in new WordPress installations …
(The Links Manager feature – part of the WordPress menu until the release of WordPress v.3.5)
(Post version 3.5 – no WordPress Links feature)
If you’ve had an earlier version of WordPress than 3.5 installed and updated your installation, the Links Manager would be removed, unless you’ve previously used it. If you’ve never used the Links feature, however, or if your WordPress installation is new, then this function will remain hidden – you will not see it on your 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 Links Manager section when you log into your WordPress dashboard you will need to install a plugin. This step-by-step tutorial explains how to add, edit, delete and manage blogroll links on your sidebar using WordPress plugins.
(Link Manager Plugin)
This plugin restores the Link Manager, even if you upgrade to a later version of WordPress or remove all of your current links.
Note: This plugin adds a single line of template code to restore the hidden feature. The last time we checked, this plugin had not been updated for a while, but it should still work fine. If you don’t want to use the Link Manager plugin, then use the one below instead, or contact us for help editing your site’s template code.
(Simple Links Plugin)
This plugin recreates the concept of the built-in Link Manager while addressing the shortcomings of the deprecated functionality.
How To Install The Plugin
Let’s install the Link Manager plugin.
From the WP admin area, go to Plugins > Add New …
(Plugins – Add New)
Click on the Install Plugins > Search tab, then type ”link manager” into the search field and hit Enter …
Find the plugin in the results area and click Install Now …
Activate the plugin …
After activation, the ‘Links’ functionality will be restored to your WP admin menu …
(WordPress links management menu)
Configuring The Plugin
Before adding links, we recommend setting up your link categories. This way, when adding a new link, you can assign the link to the link category you have already created.
To create a link category, go to the WP dashboard menu and select Links > Link Categories …
(Links Menu – Link Categories)
The ‘Link Categories’ screen will display in your browser.
Type in the following information:
- Name: Enter the link category name here.
- Slug: The slug shows up in the web address of the link category. Only use lower case letters and do not include spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display a link category description. (Optional)
Click the Add New Link Category button to save …
(Link Categories area)
Your new category will now show in the list …
Tip: WordPress calls its default link category Blogroll . Unless you specify the category for a new link, WordPress will automatically assign new links to the default category …
(Default link category name)
You may want to change the default link category name to something that your visitors can relate to. This not only makes it easier for visitors, but any new links that you add to your site will automatically be listed under the new category name …
(we recommend changing the default link category name to something your visitors will understand)
To change the ‘Blogroll’ link title, hover your mouse over the category name and click on the Quick Edit link …
Replace both the Name and the Slug with a new category name, then click on Update Link Category …
In our example, we’ve replaced the link category name ‘Blogroll’ with an appropriate links section name (e.g. ‘Recommended’).
Let’s create a description for this link category. To add a description to an existing link category, click on the Edit link under the category name …
(Link category description)
Add your link category description field and click Update when you’re done …
(Edit Link Category page)
Repeat the above process and add as many different link categories as your site needs.
Once you have configured your link categories, you can add your links.
How To Add Links
To add a new link, go to the main dashboard navigation menu and click on Links > Add New …
(WP Links Menu – Add New)
This takes you to the ‘Add New Link’ page …
(Add New Link page)
You can also reach this page by clicking on ’Add New’ in the main Links page …
(Links screen – Add New Link button)
The ‘Add New Links’ page includes several sections:
Name, Web Address & Description
The first section lets you enter details about your link …
(Add New Link – Name, Web Addressand Description section)
Type in information into the following fields:
- Name: Whatever you type in this field will display as the category your links will be assigned to.
- Slug: The slug displays in the web address of the link category. Use lowercase letters only and do not include spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display a link category description. (Optional)
Categories & Target
After adding your link details, select a Category and Target for your link …
(Categories & Target area)
In the Categories section, tick a link category you’ve already set up, or click on ’+ Add New Category’ to create a new category.
Next, select a target frame radio button for your link in the Target section. This lets you specify where the link should open when clicked on by visitors:
- _blank means that a separate window will open up in their browser to display the information associated with the link. This allows your visitors to access the information without leaving your page
- _none means that when visitors click on the link, they will exit your site and a new site 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. Ignore this option if you don’t use frames, or if you don’t know what frames are.
Link Relationship XFN
This area provides some additional link functionality …
(Add New Link page – Link Relationship (XFN) area)
Link Relationship (XFN) – XFN (XML Friends Network) is a way to define your relationship with the linked person. For example, if you have a professional relationship with Darsh Larsson and you link to his blog, you would probably tick co-worker or colleague.
XFN relationships are optional. You can ignore this section and your links will still work. Defining relationships with XFN makes your links more understandable to some sites and search engines that use this information.
rel – This field specifies the ‘rel’ attribute that will be assigned to your link. The rel attribute specifies 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.
You can learn more about XFN by visiting this site:
The last section of the Add New Link’ page lets you enter Advanced features for your links (some themes will ignore this. You can leave the fields in this section empty unless there’s a good reason to use them) …
(Add New Link screen – Advanced area)
The Advanced section fields are as follows:
- Image Address: Specify an image to be displayed with the link. To use this feature, add an image URL and make sure that your image is small (around 16×16 like a favicon).
- RSS Address: If your theme allows it, the link’s RSS feed will display next to the links.
- Notes: Add notes about the link in this section for your own internal reference.
- Rating: You can add a rating score to the link if you would like to sort links by rating (see the ‘Links’ widget section below).
Enter information in the above fields or just leave this section blank, as these fields are not required.
When you have finished adding your new link information, click on the Add Link button to save your new link …
(Click on the Add Link button to save your new link)
Note: If you tick the checkbox next to Keep this link private, the link will not be visible in your Blogroll section …
(Make links private by checking the box)
Making links private allows you to toggle their visibility on and off without deleting your links (this is useful if you want to add seasonal links) …
(Making links private toggles their visibility on and off)
To see a list of all the links you have created, select Links > All Links in the main dashboard navigation menu …
(Links – All Links)
The ‘Links’ screen will display in your web browser. The list of links displays all of your links and link information (e.g. link URL, link categories, rating, etc.) …
(List of links)
Tip: To display additional information in the list of links, click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab near the top of your screen …
(Links table – Screen Options)
Display/hide fields on your table of links by ticking/unticking their checkboxes …
(Links table – Hide or display screen options)
How To Edit Links
To modify links in the Link Manager, go to the WP dashboard menu and click on Links > All Links to bring up your links page …
(Links – All Links)
Locate the item to be edited and click on Edit to bring up the item’s link information …
Change the link information …
(Edit Link screen)
After editing the link, you can:
- Click on Update Link to save and update your link details,
- Click on Visit Link to view your link and check that you have set up the link’s URL correctly (the link will open up in a new window),
- Click Delete to remove the link from your table of links if it’s no longer required …
(Edit Link: Update Link button)
Deleting Your Links
To delete a link from the Link Manager, go to your dashboard menu and click on Links > All Links …
(Links Menu – All Links)
The ‘Links’ table will display in your browser.
You can delete links individually, delete multiple links, or delete all links at once.
To delete individual links, hover your cursor over the link that you want to remove from the link table and click on Delete …
(Delete your links)
To delete links in bulk, either click on the checkbox next to every item that you want removed, or select all links by clicking on the main checkbox next to the ‘Name’ column header at the top of the list …
(Delete multiple links)
Select Delete from the ‘Bulk Actions’ menu, and click Apply to delete all selected links …
(Links: bulk-delete function)
The links you have selected will be removed …
(Deleted links notification)
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 or blog.
Using The Links Widget
The Link Manager plugin adds a ‘Links’ widget to your ‘Widgets’ section.
To access and configure your Link widgets, select Appearance > Widgets in your admin menu …
(WordPress Appearance – Widgets)
This loads the ‘Widgets’ page in your browser.
You will see that a ‘Links’ widget has been added to the Available Widgets section …
To make the ‘Links’ widget active, drag it to one of your widget bars and drop it wherever you want your links section to display …
(Add a links widget to your WordPress sidebar using drag & drop)
The Links widget provides various settings. For example, you can specify what information you would like to display about your links and how many links you would like to display on your sidebar …
(Link widget options)
You can add as many link widgets to your sidebar as you want. This allows you to add and display several link lists sorted by categories on your site …
(Add multiple link widgets to your widget bars)
You can select a link category from the ‘Select Link Category:’ pull-down 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 settings – Sorting options)
After setting up your Links widget, click Save to update your settings. Your links should show up immediately on your sidebar, footer or wherever you place the links widget in …
(An example of how 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 more help using widgets? We have written a detailed article about configuring widgets. Go here to learn more about this:
Link Manager – Additional Information
If you have loads of links, the Link Manager plugin lets you easily administer these with filtering, sorting, and searching features.
To sort links, hover your cursor over the title of the column you want to sort and click on the little triangle displayed next to the column title …
(Sort your links)
Find Links Function
You can find links using the ‘Search Links’ function …
(Searching your links)
Filter Your Links
You can filter links by link categories …
(Filter your links by categories)
You can also search and filter links in the Link Categories page. Use the ‘Search Link Categories’ button to find link categories, or click on the category links in the ‘Links’ column …
(searching and filtering links in the Link Categories screen)
This displays a list of all links listed for a specific link category …
(Links filtered by category)
Additional Link Options
If you plan to use links extensively on your site, or if you would like to add a ‘Links’ page to your site (i.e. not just add a links section to your sidebar), then you may want to consider using a plugin that can help you administer links, like Link Library.
(Link library – Plugin For WordPress)
Link Library allows you to output a list of your link categories and a complete list of links with descriptions and notes …
(List of links created with Link library. Image: Link Library plugin documentation.)
Link Library creates a page on your website containing a list of all of the link categories in your Links area, plus all links defined for these categories. Additionally, 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 link collection that lets your site users become 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 a blogroll and manage links to external sites in your WordPress sidebar menu.
Go here if you want to learn more how to easily add HTML hyperlinks into WordPress:
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