wordpress: beyond the basics

Managing Links

Many web sites include a list of links to related sites in the sidebar, or on a dedicated "Resources" page. To help you curate an excellent set of related links for your site, WordPress comes with a link management tool, accessible from the Dashboard sidebar. After creating and organizing a collection of links, you can cause them to display on your site however you like - alphabetized, grouped by category, in multiple sections, or any which way to Sunday.


The Links tool comes with a default set of links, which you can either delete or replace.


Notice that all links can optionally live in categories, which are not the same as your Post categories. If your list of links is long, categories can be used to group links into logical sets. You can even use link categories to set up multiple link lists in the sidebar, one for category A and a separate one for category B, for example.

The purpose of the Name and Web Address fields is fairly obvious. To avoid mistakes, remember always to paste in URLs, rather than typing them by hand.

The Description field is optional. If used, the description will be inserted into the link HTML. How it gets inserted is not controlled from the Link manager, but from the widget you'll be using to add it to your sidebar, or with the PHP code you add to your template. In some cases, the description will be added as a title attribute that will show up when a user hovers their mouse over the link. In other cases, the description will be made visible on the page, right next to the link.

The Categories section works exactly like Post categories, which you're already familiar with. You can add new categories on the fly, or click Link Categories in the Dashboard sidebar to manage your link categories.

You can use the Target section to control how a link will behave when clicked. When set to _none, the link will behave normally, taking the user away from the current page. When set to _blank, the link will open in a new browser tab or window (depending on the user's browser). We recommend sticking with _none (same window). Power users want to control which links open in new tabs and which ones don't, and get annoyed when web developers make this decision for them. And novice users can get lost or confused when their screen is littered with a ton of tabs and windows.


The Link Relationship and Advanced fields are obscure holdovers from the old days of WordPress and are seldom used. Ignore them. If curious, see the official documentation (Link Relationships, Advanced).

You'll also notice a "Keep this private" checkbox in the Save/Update panel. Checking this box will cause the link to appear only to you, not to your readers, which is possibly useful for creating documentation links for your authors, or for creating sites meant just for you and your authors.

Install a links list via widget

The most common way to get your list of links to appear in the sidebar is with the built-in Links widget. Go to the Widgets manager, find the rectangle marked "Links," and drag it to the Primary Widget Area. It'll look something like this:


Click Save, and refresh your site's homepage. Take a look in the sidebar to see your now-published list of links. If you set up more than one category of links, you'll seem them broken up like this:


So what if you wanted to break your links up into separate sections, with News at the top of the sidebar and Blogroll at the bottom? Notice that in the Links widget, you can filter by category:


Go ahead and do that for a single category, and drag the widget to the top of the Primary Widget Area. Next, drag a second copy of the Links widget from the Available Widgets area and into the Primary Widget area, this time to the bottom of the sidebar. Set that second widget to filter by your other category.


Again, refresh your site in the browser and take a look at the sidebar. You should now see links in one category at the top of the sidebar, and links from another category at the bottom.

Want to learn how to install a links list without a widget, e.g. on a separate page rather than in the sidebar? See the Page Hacks section of our Modifying WordPress Themes tutorial.