As you continue to learn more about the benefits of using WordPress, you may occasionally come across something called a blogroll.
A blogroll is a list of hyperlinks pointing to external websites or web pages displayed on your sidebar area.
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 feature lets you add and manage external links to a widgetized theme.
Before WordPress v3.5 was released, Links were a built-in feature of the WordPress CMS. From v.3.5 onwards, the Links manager and blogroll sections were kept hidden by default in new installations …
(WP Links Menu – pre v3.5)
(Post v.3.5 – no WordPress Links feature)
If you have used an earlier version than 3.5 and upgraded your installation, then the Link Manager would have been removed, unless you have previously used it.
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 feature when you log into your WordPress admin area you will need to install a plugin. This step-by-step tutorial explains how to add and manage links on your sidebar using plugins.
This plugin displays the built-in Link Manager, even if you upgrade to a later version of WordPress or remove all of your current links.
Note: All this plugin does is add a single line of code to your installation in order to restore the hidden feature. When we last checked, the 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 plugin below instead, or contact us for help editing your site’s template code.
(Simple Links Plugin)
Description Of Plugin
Simple Links recreates the concept of the built-in WordPress Link Manager while removing the shortcomings of the deprecated functionality.
Let’s install the Link Manager plugin.
In your WP dashboard menu, go to Plugins > Add New …
(Plugins Menu – Add New)
Select the Install Plugins > Search tab, then type ”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 it has been installed …
After activation, a ‘Links’ section will show up in your admin menu area …
(Links management menu)
Setting Up The Plugin
We recommend setting up your link categories first before you start adding new links. This way, when adding a new link, you can assign your link to the link category you have already created.
To create a link category, go to the main navigation menu and click on Links > Link Categories …
(WordPress Links – Link Categories)
This brings up the ‘Link Categories’ screen.
Enter the following information:
- Name: Whatever you enter here is the category name that will display on your site.
- Slug: The slug appears in the URL of the link category. Use lowercase letters only without 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 category details will now show in the table …
Tip: The default WordPress link category is called Blogroll . Unless you specify the category when adding a link, WordPress automatically assigns new links to the default category …
(Default link category name is ‘blogroll’)
You may want to change this to something that your visitors can understand. 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 link category name to something better suited to your business)
To change the default category name, hover your mouse over the item and click on Quick Edit …
Change both the Name and the Slug with a new category name, then click on the Update link Category button …
In our example, the category ‘Blogroll’ has been replaced with a more suitable category name (e.g. ‘Recommended’).
Let’s add a link category description. To add a link category description, click on Edit under the category name …
(Link category description)
Add your description in the ‘Edit Link Category’ screen and click Update …
(Edit Link Category screen)
Repeat this process and add as many link categories as you need.
After setting up your link categories, you can being adding your links.
How To Add Links
To create a new link, go to the main admin menu and select Links > Add New …
(Links – Add New)
You will be taken to the ‘Add New Link’ page …
(Add New Link screen)
You can also access this page by clicking on the ‘Add New’ button at the top of the main Links page …
(Add New Link button)
The ‘Add New Links’ page has a number of sections:
Name, Web Address & Description
Enter details about your link in this section …
(Name, Web Address, Description fields – Add New Link)
Type in information into the following sections:
- Name: Enter the category name here.
- Slug: The slug shows up in the SEO friendly URL of the link category. 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 in the links section, or as a tool tip when visitors hover over the link name. (Optional)
Categories & Target
Select a Category and Target for your new link …
(Categories & Target – Add New Link screen)
In the Categories section, select one of the link categories you’ve already added, or click on the ‘+ Add New Category’ link to create a new category link.
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 new, separate window will open up in their browser to display the information for that link. Your visitor can access the link information without leaving your website
- _none means that when a visitor clicks on your link, they will exit your site and a new site 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. 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))
Link Relationship (XFN) – XFN stands for XML Friends Network – allows you to define your relationship with the linked person. For example, if you have a professional relationship with Aaron 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 work just fine. Defining relationships with XFN makes the links defined on your site 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 defines what relationship exists 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, index, help, start, etc.
You can learn more about XFN by visiting this site:
The last section of the Add New Link’ screen allows you to enter Advanced features for your links (some themes will ignore this. You can ignore this section, unless there’s a good reason to use it) …
(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 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).
Enter information in the above fields or just leave this section ignore this section.
When you have finished adding your new link information, click on Add Link to save your new link …
(Click on the Add Link button to save your new link)
Note: If you select the Keep this link private checkbox, your 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 toggle link visibility on or off without deleting it (this is useful if you want to use seasonal links) …
(Toggle link visibility on and off)
To see a list of all the links you have added to the Link Manager, click on Links > All Links in the WP admin menu …
(Links – All Links)
The ‘Links’ screen will load in your web browser. The list of links displays all of your links and link information (e.g. link URL, link categories, rating, etc.) …
Tip: To view or hide information in the table of links, click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab at the top of the screen …
(Table of links – Screen Options)
Enable/disable information on your Links table by selecting/deselecting their checkboxes …
Editing Your Link Information
To modify a link, select Links > All Links in your WP admin menu to bring up the links screen …
(WP Links – All Links)
Select the link to be edited and click on Edit to bring up the item’s link details …
(Editing link information)
Make any changes you want to your link …
(Edit Link page)
After you’re done 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 everything correctly (your link will open up in a new window),
- Click Delete to delete the link …
(Edit Link: Update Link button)
Removing Your Links
To delete a link, go to the WP dashboard menu and select Links > All Links …
(Links – All Links)
The ‘Links’ page will load in your browser.
You can delete links individually, delete multiple links, or perform a bulk delete.
To delete links individually, hover over the link that you want removed and click on Delete …
To delete links in bulk, either tick the check box next to every item that you would like deleted, or select all links by clicking on the 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 the Apply button to remove all selected links …
(Links: bulk-delete function)
The links you have selected will be deleted …
(Deleted links message)
Using The Link Manager Plugin
Now that you know how to configure link categories and how to add, edit and delete links, it’s time 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 dashboard navigation menu and click on Appearance > Widgets …
(Appearance – Widgets)
This brings up the ‘Widgets’ screen in your browser.
You will see a ‘Links’ widget in the Available Widgets section …
Drag the ‘Links’ widget to one of your active widget bars and drop it wherever you would like the links section to display …
(Adding a links widget to a widgetized area using drag and drop)
The Links widget provides a number of configurable options. 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 menu …
(Link widget options)
You can add multiple link widgets to your sidebar and footer. This lets you add and display different lists of links throughout your site …
(You can add multiple link widgets to your sidebar)
Select a link category from the ‘Select Link Category:’ pull-down menu …
(Link widget options – Select Link Category)
You can sort links by Link ID, Link rating, Link title, or display links in Random order …
(Link widget options – Sorting options)
When you have finished setting up the Links widget, click the Save button to update your settings. Your link section will show on your website …
(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 on using widgets here:
Links Manager – Additional Information
If you have many links, the Links Manager plugin lets you easily administer these with sort, filter, and search features.
You can sort links by hovering your mouse cursor over the title of the column you want to sort and clicking on the black triangle displayed next to the column title …
(Sorting links function)
Search Links Function
Type a search term into the search field and click the Search Links button …
(Searching your links)
Filter Your Links
You can filter links by link categories …
(Filter links by link category)
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 category links in the ‘Links’ column …
(searching and filtering 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 add lots of links to 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 your links.
(Link Library WordPress Plugin)
Link Library gives you the ability to publish a list of all your link categories with a complete list of links together with descriptions and notes …
(List of links created with Link library. Screenshot taken from Link Library plugin documentation.)
This plugin can be used to create a page on your site that contains all the link categories in your Links section, and 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 of your links so that your site users can be made aware of any additions made to to your link library.
Go here to learn more about this useful plugin:
Congratulations! Now you know how to add external links to your WordPress site.
To learn more about how to easily insert HTML links into your WordPress posts & pages, refer to this article:
"I was absolutely amazed at the scope and breadth of these tutorials! The most in-depth training I have ever received on any subject!" - Myke O'Neill, DailyGreenPost.com