As you become more familiar with WordPress, you may occasionally come across something called a blogroll.
A blogroll is a list of hyperlinks pointing to external sites or web pages that display on your sidebar section.
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 manage a link section using the Links menu in your Dashboard. These links will then display on your website if you have added the Links widget.
Before WordPress v3.5 was released, Links were a visible feature of the WordPress CMS. From v 3.5 onwards, the Links Manager section was removed …
(The Link Manager feature was part of the WordPress menu until the release of WP v 3.5)
(The Link Manager is no longer included in the menu after WP version 3.5)
If you’ve used an earlier version of WordPress than v.3.5 and updated your installation, then the Link Manager would be removed, unless you’ve previously used it. If you’ve never used the Links feature, however, or if your site is new, then this function will become invisible – 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 a Links item on the main menu when you log into your WP admin area, you can add it via a plugin. In this tutorial, you will learn how to add and manage blogroll links on your sidebar using WordPress plugins.
(Links Manager WordPress Plugin)
You can use this plugin to restore the Links Manager, even if you update to a later version of WordPress or remove all of your current links.
Note: All this plugin does is add a single line of template code to WordPress to restore the hidden feature. The last time we checked, this plugin had not been updated for some time, 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 Plugin)
Description Of Plugin
Simple Links recreates the same concept as the built-in Link Manager while addressing the shortcomings of the deprecated feature.
Installing The Plugin
To install the Link Manager plugin, follow the instructions below:
From the WP dashboard area, select Plugins > Add New …
(Plugins Menu – 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 search results screen and click Install Now …
Activate the plugin …
After activating the plugin, a ‘Links’ section will be added to your WP sidebar menu …
Configuring Link Manager
Before adding any new links, we recommend setting up your link categories. This way, when you add a new link, you can assign your link to a link category you have already created.
To create a link category, go to the navigation menu and select Links > Link Categories …
(Links Menu – Link Categories)
This brings up the ‘Link Categories’ screen in your browser.
Enter information into the following sections:
- Name: What you type in this field is the link category name that will display on your site.
- Slug: The slug appears in the web address of the link category name. It must be in lowercase letters and contain no spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display your link category description.
When done, click Add New Link Category to save …
The link category will now show in the table …
Tip: WordPress calls its default link category Blogroll . Unless you specify the category when adding a new link, WordPress automatically assigns new links to the default category …
(Default link category)
You may want to change the default WordPress link category name to something that your visitors can understand. This not only makes it easier for visitors, but any new links that you add to the Links section will automatically be listed under the new category name …
(Change the default ’blogroll’ to something your visitors will understand)
To change the ‘Blogroll’ link name, hover your mouse over the list item and click on the Quick Edit link …
Replace both the Name and the Slug with a new category name (remember to keep the slug in lowercase letters and replace all spaces with a hyphen), then click on the Update link Category button …
(Update Link Category)
In our example, the link category name ‘Blogroll’ has been replaced with an appropriate links section category name (e.g. ‘Recommended’).
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 your category description)
Enter your link category description field and click Update …
(Edit Link Category page)
Repeat the above process and add as many link categories as your site requires.
After configuring your link categories, you can add your links.
How To Add Links
To add a new link, select Links > Add New in your WP dashboard navigation menu …
(Links Menu – Add New)
The ‘Add New Link’ page will display in your web browser …
(Add New Link page)
You can also reach this page by clicking on ’Add New’ in the main Links screen …
(Add New Link button)
The ‘Add New Links’ page is divided into the following sections:
Name, Web Address & Description
The first section lets you enter your link details …
(Add New Link – Name, Web Addressand Description)
Type in the following information:
- Name: Enter the link category name here.
- Slug: The slug shows up in the search-engine friendly 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 a link category description. (Optional)
Categories & Target
Select a Category and Target for the new link …
(Add New Link – Categories & Target)
In the Categories section, select a link category you’ve already created, or click on the ‘+ Add New Category’ link to add a new category.
Next, select a target frame radio button for your link in the Target section. This lets you specify where you want the link to open when clicked on by visitors:
- _blank means that a separate window will open up in their web browser to display the information associated with the link. This lets your visitors see the link information without leaving your site
- _none means that when a visitor clicks on your link, they will leave your site and a new website or page will load in your browser window instead.
- _top opens the link at the top level of the frame system if you’re using frames. If you don’t use frames, or if you don’t know what frames are, then ignore this option.
Link Relationship XFN
This section provides some additional link functionality …
(Add New Link screen – Link Relationship (XFN) section)
Link Relationship (XFN) – XFN (XML Friends Network) is a way to define your relationship with the linked person. For example, if you work with Mary Fields and you link to her blog, you would probably check co-worker or colleague.
XFN relationships are optional for WordPress links. You can leave everything in this section blank and 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, type nofollow into this field.
You can learn more about XFN by visiting this site:
The last section lets you enter Advanced features for your links (some themes will ignore this. You can leave these fields empty unless you have a reason to use them) …
(Advanced link settings – Add New Link)
The Advanced link settings section contains the following options:
- Image Address: Lets you specify an image to be displayed with the link. Add the 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 your links.
- Notes: Add notes about the link in this section for your own internal reference.
- Rating: Add a rating score to the link if you want to sort links by rating (see the ‘Links’ widget section below).
Type in your information in the above fields or just leave this section blank.
When you are done adding information about your link, click on Add Link to update your link settings …
(Click on Add Link to update your link settings)
Note: If you tick the checkbox next to Keep this link private, your link will not be visible in your Blogroll section …
(Make your links private)
Making links private lets you add links and then toggle their visibility on and off without deleting your links (this is useful if you want to use seasonal links) …
(Making links private toggles their visibility on and off)
To see all your links, go to your admin menu and select Links > All Links …
(Links – All Links)
The ‘Links’ table will display in your browser. The table of links displays all of your links and link information (e.g. URL, link categories, rating, etc.) …
Tip: To display additional information in the Links table, click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab at the top of the screen …
(List of links – Screen Options)
Enable/disable fields on your Links table by ticking/unticking their checkboxes …
(Show/hide – List of links)
How To Edit Your Links
To modify a link in the Link Manager, go to the main admin menu and click on Links > All Links to bring up your list of links …
(Links – All Links)
Locate the item to be edited and click on Edit to bring up the item’s link information …
(Editing your links)
Make changes to the link details …
(Edit Link page)
After editing the 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 everything correctly (the link will open up in a new window),
- Click Delete to delete the link if it’s no longer required …
(Update Link button)
Deleting Your Links
To delete links from the Link Manager, choose Links > All Links in the WP admin menu …
(Links Menu – All Links)
The ‘Links’ page will display in your browser.
You can delete links individually, delete multiple links by selecting their check boxes, or delete all your links at once.
To delete individual links, hover your cursor over the link that you want to remove from the link table and click Delete …
(Delete your links)
To delete multiple links, either click on the check boxes next to individual links that you would like to delete, or select all links by clicking on the main check box next to the ‘Name’ column header at the top of the list …
(Delete multiple links)
Select Delete from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop-down menu, and click the Apply button to remove your selected links …
(Links: bulk-deletion function)
All the links you have selected will be deleted …
(links deleted notice)
Now that you know how to set up link categories and how to add, edit and delete links, it’s time to make links display on your website.
The Links Manager plugin adds a ‘Links’ widget to your ‘Widgets’ screen.
To access and configure your Link widgets, go to your dashboard navigation menu and choose Appearance > Widgets …
(Appearance – Widgets)
You will be taken to the ‘Widgets’ page.
You will notice a ‘Links’ widget in the Available Widgets section …
Drag the ‘Links’ widget to one of your active widget sections and drop it wherever you would like your links section to show up …
(Add a links widget to your WordPress sidebar)
The Links widget offers various configurable options. You can specify what information you would like to show about your links and how many links you want displayed on your sidebar menu …
(Link widget - settings)
You can add as many link widgets to your sidebar and footer as you want. This lets you add and display specific different lists of links throughout your site …
(Add a number of link widgets to your sidebar)
You can select a link category …
(Link widget options – Select Link Category)
You can sort links by Link title, Link ID, Link rating, or display links in Random order …
(Link widget settings – Sorting options)
After configuring the links widget, click the Save button to update your settings. Your links will become visible on your sidebar …
(Links can be displayed on your site’s 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 using widgets? Go here if you would like to learn more about using widgets:
Links Manager – Additional Information
If you have added many links, the Link Manager plugin lets you easily administer these with searching, sorting, and filtering functionality.
You can sort links by hovering your mouse cursor over the title of the column you want to sort and clicking on the little triangle displayed next to the column title …
(Sorting your links)
Find Links Function
Search for links using the ‘Search Links’ button …
(You can find links using the search function)
Filtering Your Links
You can filter links by categories …
(Filter 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 category links in the ‘Links’ column …
(searching and filtering links in the Link Categories page)
This displays a list of all links listed under a specific link category …
(Links filtered by link category)
Links – Additional Options
If you plan to use links extensively on your website or blog, or if you intend to add a ‘Links’ page to your site (i.e. not just add links on your sidebar), then you may want to consider using a plugin that can help you administer links, like Link Library.
(Link Library WordPress Plugin)
Link Library gives you the ability to output a list of your link categories with a complete list of links together with notes and descriptions …
(Link Library links. Image source: Link Library plugin site.)
Link Library creates a page on your website containing a list of all of the link categories in your Links area, plus 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 of your links that lets your site users be made aware of additions to your link library.
To learn more about using this WordPress plugin, visit this site:
Congratulations! Now you know how to add external links to your WordPress site.
We have written a comprehensive article about inserting HTML links into WordPress posts and pages. For more info, see this article:
"Wow! I never knew there's so much to learn about WordPress! I bought one of the WordPress for Dummies three years ago, such authors need to be on this course!" - Rich Law, Create A Blog Now