As you continue to discover more about WordPress, you may occasionally come across the term blogroll.
In WordPress terminology, a list of links displayed on your sidebar 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 add a link section using the Links menu in your WordPress Dashboard. These links will display on your sidebar or footer once you add the Links widget.
Before WordPress version 3.5 was released, Links were a core feature of the WordPress CMS. From version 3.5 onwards, the Links Manager section was removed …
(The Links Manager – included in the WordPress menu until the release of WordPress v3.5)
(The Link Manager – no longer included in the WordPress menu after WP v.3.5)
If you have had an earlier version than v 3.5 installed and upgraded your installation, the Link Manager would be removed, unless you have previously used it. If you’ve never used Links Manager, however, or if your site installation is new, then this function will remain hidden – it will not be displayed 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 the Links item is not displayed when you log into your WP backend, you can add it via a plugin. In this tutorial, you will learn how to add and manage blogroll links on your site’s sidebar using plugins.
(Link Manager WordPress Plugin)
The Link Manager plugin restores the Links Manager, even if you upgrade to a later version of WordPress or remove all of your existing links.
Note: All this plugin does is add a single line of 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 template code.
(Simple Links Plugin)
Simple Links recreates the concept of the built-in Link Manager while removing the shortcomings of the deprecated functionality.
How To Install Link Manager
To install the Link Manager plugin, follow the step-by-step instructions below:
In your WP dashboard area, 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 …
Find the plugin in the search results area and click Install Now …
Activate the plugin after it has been installed …
After activation, a ‘Links’ item is added to the WP navigation menu area …
(WordPress links management menu)
Before adding 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 link category, go to your WP dashboard navigation menu and select Links > Link Categories …
(WordPress Links – Link Categories)
The ‘Link Categories’ screen will display in your web browser.
Enter the following information:
- Name: Enter the category name.
- Slug: The slug displays in the SEO 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)
after entering your information, click the Add New Link Category button to save your new link category …
Your new category will be added to the list …
(Link Categories screen)
Tip: WordPress calls its default link category Blogroll . Unless you specify a category when adding a link, WordPress will assign new links to the default category …
(Default link category name is ‘blogroll’)
You may want to change this to something that will make sense to visitors. This will not only make it easier for users of your site, 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 ‘Blogroll’ link name, hover your mouse over the list item and click on the Quick Edit link …
(Edit the default link category name)
Replace both the Name and the Slug with a new category name, and click on Update Link Category …
(Update Link Category)
Replace the category ‘Blogroll’ with an appropriate links section name (e.g. ‘Recommended’, ‘Our Sponsors’ etc).
Let’s insert a description for this link category. To add a description to an existing link category, hover over the item name and click Edit …
(Link category description)
Add 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.
After setting up your link categories, you can being adding new links.
How To Add Links
To add a new link, choose Links > Add New in the WP admin menu …
(Links – Add New)
This brings up the ‘Add New Link’ page …
(Add New Link page)
You can also reach this page by clicking on the ‘Add New’ button in the main Links screen …
(Links – Add New Link button)
The ‘Add New Links’ page is divided into a number of sections:
Name, Web Address & Description
This section is where you enter your link details …
(Add New Link page – Name, Web Addressand Description)
Enter the following information:
- Name: Whatever you enter here displays as the category your links will be assigned to.
- Slug: The slug appears in the web address of the link category. Only use lower case letters without spaces (use hyphens to separate words).
- Description: Some themes may display a 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 link …
(Categories & Target – Add New Link screen)
In the Categories section, select one of the link categories you’ve already created, or click on ’+ Add New Category’ to create a new category link.
Next, select a target frame for your link in the Target section by choosing one of the radio buttons. This lets you specify where your link should open when a visitor clicks on it:
- _blank means that when visitors click on the link, a separate window will open up in their web browser to display the information for that link. Your visitor will be able to see the link information without leaving your website
- _none means that when visitors click on the link, they will exit your site and a new website or page will load in your browser window instead.
- _top opens links 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 …
(Link Relationship (XFN) – Add New Link)
Link Relationship (XFN) – XFN (XML Friends Network) lets you define your relationship with the linked person. For example, if you have a professional relationship with Jonah Schwartz and you link to his blog, you would probably check co-worker or colleague.
XFN relationships are optional. You can leave everything in this section blank and all of your links will work just fine. Defining relationships with XFN makes your links more understandable to some sites 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.
To learn more about XFN, visit the site below:
The last section of the Add New Link’ screen lets you 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) …
(Advanced link settings)
The Advanced section fields include the following:
- Image Address: Lets you specify an image to be displayed with the link. To use this feature, add the URL of where the image is stored 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 can be displayed next to your 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 into the above fields or just leave this section blank.
When you are done adding information about your link, click on the Add Link button to update your link settings …
(Click on the Add Link button to save your new link)
Note: If you tick Keep this link private, your link will not be visible in your Links section …
(Private link checkbox)
Making a link private lets you toggle its visibility on or off without deleting it (this is useful if you want your link to display during certain periods and hide it after it’s no longer required) …
(Making links private toggles their visibility on and off)
To see all the links you have added, select Links > All Links in the WP dashboard navigation menu …
(Links – All Links)
This brings up the ‘Links’ screen. The Links table displays your links and link information (e.g. URL, link categories, visibility, etc.) …
(List of links)
Tip: To view or hide fields in the list of links, click on the ‘Screen Options’ tab near the top of the screen …
(Screen Options – Table of links)
Enable/disable fields on your Links table by ticking/unticking their checkboxes …
How To Edit Link Information
To modify a link, go to the admin menu and click on Links > All Links to bring up the table of links …
(Links – All Links)
Locate the item to be edited and click on Edit to bring up the link’s details …
Change the link …
(Edit Link screen)
After you’re done editing the link, you can:
- Click on Update Link to save your link details,
- Click on Visit Link to view your link and check that you have set up your link’s URL correctly (the link will open in a new window),
- Click Delete to delete the link …
(Edit Link: Update Link button)
How To Remove Your Links
To delete a link from the Link Manager, go to your dashboard navigation menu and click on Links > All Links …
(Links – All Links)
The ‘Links’ screen will load 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 title that you want to remove and click on Delete …
To delete multiple links, either click on the checkboxes next to individual items 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’ drop menu, and click Apply to remove your selected links …
(Bulk-deletion of links)
The links will be removed …
(links deleted notice)
Now that you know how to configure link categories and how to add, edit and delete links, let’s show you how to make links display on your site.
Using The Links Widget
Installing the Links Manager plugin adds a ‘Links’ widget to your ‘Widgets’ section.
To access and configure your Link widgets, go to the main dashboard menu and click on Appearance > Widgets …
(Appearance Menu – Widgets)
You will be taken to the ‘Widgets’ page.
You will see a ‘Links’ widget in the Available Widgets section …
To make the ‘Links’ widget active, drag the widget to one of your active widget bars in the Widgets page and drop it wherever you would like your links section to display …
(Drag & drop your links widget to add it to your sidebar)
The Links widget provides various configurable settings. For example, you can specify what information you want to display about your links and how many links you would like displayed on your sidebar menu …
(Link widget settings)
You can add multiple link widgets to your sidebars and footers. This lets you add and feature different link lists on your site …
(Add a number of link widgets to your widget bars)
Select a link category to display a specific list of items …
(Link widget settings – Select Link Category)
You can sort links by Link title, Link rating, Link ID, or display links in Random order …
(Link widget options – Sorting options)
Once you are done setting up the links widget, click the Save button to update your settings. Your link section should display on your sidebar menu …
(An example of how 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 with widgets? We have written a detailed article about widgets. Go here to learn more:
Links Manager – Additional Information
If you have added many links, the Link Manager plugin lets you easily administer these with filter, search, and sort features.
Sort Links Function
To sort links, hover your mouse cursor over the title of the column you want to sort and click on the little triangle displayed next to the column title …
(You can sort links)
Find Your Links
Find links using the ‘Search Links’ button …
You can filter links by link category …
(Filter your 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 links in the ‘Links’ column …
(Search and filter links in the Link Categories page)
This displays a list of all links listed under a specific link category …
(Links filtered by category)
Additional Link Options
If you plan to add a lot of links to your website or blog, or if you want 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.
Link Library lets you display a list of all your link categories with a complete list of all your links plus descriptions and notes …
(Link Library links. Image sourced from Link Library plugin site.)
Link Library can be used to create a page on your site containing all 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 of your link collection so that your site users can be made aware of additions to your link library.
To learn more about the benefits of using this useful plugin, go here:
Congratulations! Now you know how to add external links to WordPress.
Go here if you want to learn more adding links to WordPress posts & pages:
"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)