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.”
The Links Manager lets you easily add external links to your WordPress sidebar area (e.g. a “Top 3 Resources” section) using widgets.
Before WordPress version 3.5 was released, Links were a built-in feature of the WordPress CMS. From version 3.5 onwards, the Links manager and blogroll sections were removed …
(WordPress Links Menu – pre v3.5)
(Post version 3.5 – no WordPress Links feature)
If you have used an earlier version of WordPress than 3.5 and updated your installation, then the Link Manager would be removed, unless you have previously used it. If you’ve never used the Links feature, however, or if your WordPress installation is new, then this function will become invisible – you will not see it 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 a Links section on your main menu when you log into your WP dashboard, you can add it by installing a plugin. In this step-by-step tutorial, you will learn how to add and manage blogroll links on your sidebar using WordPress plugins.
(Link Manager – WordPress Links Management Plugin)
Plugin Download URL
The Link Manager plugin displays the built-in Links Manager, even if you upgrade to a later version of WordPress or remove all of your existing links.
Note: This plugin adds a single line of template code to restore the hidden feature. When we last checked, the 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 – Link Manager Plugin For WordPress)
This plugin recreates the concept of the built-in Link Manager while addressing the shortcomings of the deprecated functionality.
Let’s install the Link Manager plugin.
In the WordPress admin menu, go to Plugins > Add New …
(Plugins Menu – Add New)
Select the Install Plugins > Search tab, then type in “link manager” into the search field and hit Enter …
Locate the plugin in the results area and click Install Now …
Activate the plugin after it has been installed …
Once the plugin has been activated, WordPress displays a ‘Links’ section in the WP admin menu area …
(WordPress links menu section)
Before adding new links, it’s a good idea to set up your link categories. This way, when you create a new link, you can assign your link to the link category you have already created.
To create a new link category, go to the main admin menu and select Links > Link Categories …
(Links Menu – Link Categories)
You will be taken to the ‘Link Categories’ page.
Enter the following information:
- Name: Whatever you enter in this field will display as the link category name.
- Slug: The slug shows up in the search-engine friendly URL of the link category name. It must all be in lowercase letters and contain no spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display your link category description.
after entering your information, click the Add New Link Category button to save …
Your category details will now show in the table …
(Link Categories area)
Tip: The default WordPress link category is called Blogroll . Unless you specify a category when creating a link, WordPress automatically assigns new links to the default category …
(Default link category)
You may want to change this to something that your visitors can understand. This will not only make it easier for users of your site, but any new links that you add to your site will automatically be assigned to the new category name …
(we recommend changing the default link category name to something your visitors will relate to)
To edit the default category name, hover your mouse over the list item and click on Quick Edit …
Replace both the Name and the Slug with a new category name, then click on Update Link Category …
Replace the link category ‘Blogroll’ with (e.g. ‘Recommended’, ‘Links’ etc).
Let’s insert a description for this link category. To add a description to an existing link category, 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 you’re done to save your settings …
(Edit Link Category area)
Repeat the above process to add as many link categories as you need.
After you have finished setting up your link categories, you can start adding new links.
To add a new link, go to your admin menu and click on Links > Add New …
(WordPress Links Menu – Add New)
The ‘Add New Link’ page will load in your web browser …
(Add New Link screen)
You can also reach this screen by clicking on the ‘Add New’ button in the main Links page …
(Links – Add New Link button)
The ‘Add New Links’ page includes a number of sections:
Name, Web Address & Description
This section is where you enter details about your link …
(Name, Web Addressand Description)
Enter the following information:
- Name: Enter the category name here.
- Slug: The slug displays in the web address 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.
Categories & Target
After typing in your link details, select a Category and Target for your new link …
(Categories & Target – Add New Link page)
In the Categories section, select one of the link categories you’ve already set up, or click on ’+ Add New Category’ to create a new category.
Also, 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 the link, a new, separate browser window will open up to display the content for that link.
- _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 web browser window instead.
- _top opens links 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 just ignore this option.
Link Relationship XFN
This area provides some additional link functionality …
(Link Relationship (XFN) area)
Link Relationship (XFN) – XFN (XML Friends Network) lets you define your relationship with the linked person. For example, if you work with Dashiell Schwartz and you link to his blog, you would probably check co-worker or colleague.
XFN relationships are optional for WordPress links. You can ignore this section and all of your links will work just fine. 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 defines a 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 specify Advanced features for your links (some themes will ignore this. You can leave these fields blank unless there’s a good reason to use them) …
The Advanced link settings section contains the following:
- Image Address: Specify an image to be displayed with the link. To use this feature, 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 RSS feed associated with the link will be displayed 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 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 have finished adding information about your link, 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 Keep this link private, the link will not be visible when links are displayed on your site …
(Private link checkbox)
Making links private allows you to add links and then toggle their visibility on or off without deleting these (this is useful if you would like links to display during certain times and hide them afterwards) …
(Toggle link visibility on and off)
To view a list of all your links, go to the WP dashboard menu and choose Links > All Links …
(Links – All Links)
The ‘Links’ screen will display in your web browser. The Links screen displays all your links and link information (e.g. URL, link categories, rating, etc.) …
(Table of links)
Tip: To display additional options in the table of links, click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab near the top of your screen …
(Screen Options – Links table)
Enable/disable fields on your Links table by ticking/unticking their checkboxes …
(Show/hide – Links table)
How To Edit Your Links
To modify links in the Link Manager, select Links > All Links in your dashboard menu to bring up the links table …
(Links Menu – All Links)
Locate the link to be edited and click on Edit to bring up the link’s information …
Edit your link details …
(Edit Link screen)
After 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 everything correctly (your link will open up in a new window),
- Click Delete to delete the link from your list …
(Update Link button)
To remove links, go to the admin menu and choose Links > All Links …
(WordPress Links – All Links)
This loads the ‘Links’ table in your web browser.
You can delete links individually, delete multiple links by selecting their check boxes, or perform a bulk delete.
To delete individual links, hover your mouse cursor over the link that you want to remove from the link table and click on Delete …
(Delete your links)
To delete multiple links, either click on the check box next to every item that you would like to be removed, or select all links by clicking on the main check box next to the ‘Name’ column header at the top of the list …
(Deleting multiple links)
Select Delete from the ‘Bulk Actions’ drop-down menu, and click Apply to remove your selected links …
(Links: bulk-deletion function)
All the links you have selected will be removed …
(Deleted links notification)
Now that you know how to configure link categories and how to add, edit and delete links, it’s time to learn how to make links display on your website or blog.
Using The Links Widget
Installing the Link Manager plugin adds a ‘Links’ widget to your ‘Widgets’ screen.
To access and configure your Link widgets, go to the navigation menu and click on Appearance > Widgets …
(Appearance – Widgets)
This brings up the ‘Widgets’ page.
You will see a ‘Links’ widget in the Available Widgets section …
Drag the ‘Links’ widget to one of the widget areas in the Widgets screen and drop it wherever you want the links to show up …
(Add a links widget to a widgetized area using drag & drop)
The Links widget includes various configurable options. You can specify what information you want to show about your links and how many links you would like to display on your sidebar menu …
(Link widget options)
You can also add as many link widgets as you want. This lets you add and display link categories throughout your site …
(Add a number of link widgets to your sidebar)
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)
When you have finished configuring your links widget, click the Save button to update your settings. Your links should show up immediately on your website …
(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 with widgets? We have written a detailed article on configuring widgets here:
Link Manager – Additional Information
If you have many links, the Links Manager plugin allows you to easily administer these using search, sort, and filter functions.
To sort links, hover your cursor over the title of the column you want to sort and click on the little black triangle displayed next to the column title …
(You can sort links)
Find Links Function
Type a search term into the search field and click the Search Links button to search for links …
Filter Links Function
You can filter links by category …
(Filter links by link categories)
You can also search and filter links in the Link Categories screen. Use the ‘Search Link Categories’ button to find link categories, or click on the links in the ‘Links’ column …
(Search and filter links in the Link Categories screen)
This displays a list of all links listed for a specific link category …
(Links filtered by category)
Links – Additional Options
If you plan to use links extensively on your website or blog, or if you would like to add a page containing a list of links 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.
(Link Library Plugin)
Plugin Download URL
The Link Library plugin lets you publish a list of all your link categories with a complete list of links with notes and descriptions …
(Link Library links. Screenshot taken from Link Library plugin documentation.)
This useful plugin can be used to create a page on your web site containing a list of all of the link categories in your Links area, plus all links listed in 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 so that your site users can become aware of any additions made to to your link library.
To learn more about Link Library:
Congratulations! Now you know how to how to add a blogroll and manage links in your WordPress sidebar menu.
We have written a comprehensive article on inserting hyperlinks into WordPress posts and pages. For more info, see this article:
"If you're new to WordPress, this can stand on its own as a training course and will stay with you as you progress from beginner to advanced and even guru status." - Bruce (Columbus, Ohio)