Earlier I wrote about how to make links within your blog posts. Today I want to talk about lists of links in your sidebar. In other words, let’s talk blogroll!
The links in your sidebar are controlled by two dashboard settings. To start things off take a look at the “Links” button on the left-hand navigation bar in your dashboard. If you’re new to blogging you’ll see that WordPress comes with some links already installed. Take a look at those. Visit the sites. Bookmark the good ones. And then delete them all. Unless your blog is about blogging or something technical, having the default links displayed just tells everyone that you’re a newbie.
To quickly get rid of them click the box to the left of “Name” at the top of the list o’ links. That will select all the links in the list. Select “Delete” from the “Bulk Actions” drop down box and then click “Apply”. Presto chango! All the preloaded links are gone!
Then it’s time to think about the sites/blogs that you want to display as links. I’d start out by clicking on “Link Categories” and renaming “Blogroll” to something more descriptive. Good choices are:
- Other Topic Sites – “Topic” would be the main topic of your site. Why not link to some other people in your niche? Link to them and then send them an email to introduce yourself. No need to ask for a link back. They’ll understand that you’d like one. Let them make up their own mind about that. In the meantime, since you’ve linked to them, they’ll know that you’re a person of discriminating taste.
- Our Other Sites – Are you an Internet guru with multiple websites? Give ’em a SEO boost by linking to them. Also, if people like one of your sites they might be interested in your other sites too.
- Gift Shops – Do you have a Cafe Press store? Don’t be shy. If people are visiting your site they might also like to buy products you make or recommend.
- Resources – Are there websites that are indispensable to someone interested in your niche? Are there reference sites that you use all the time? Share the love by adding a link to that oh-so-useful website.
Once you’ve got at least one category, you’re ready to add some links. Click on “Add New” and you’ll see the following screen:
Once you’ve got the information added you should see something like this:
Farther down the screen you’ll see an area called “Target”. My rule for making links is that if the link is going to another page in your own site then leave that blank. However, in this instance you’re probably linking to another website or blog. So set the target to “_blank”. That will make the link open up in a new window.
The thinking is that while you want to show your visitors other great sites, you want them to stay at your site as long as possible. You want them to see your ads, sign up for your RSS feed or maybe buy one of your products. Linking to other sites by opening a new window is the best of both worlds. You give your visitors a chance to see other sites, but you don’t lose them.
You can accept the defaults on everything else.
When you’re ready go back up to the top of the screen and click on “Add Link”.
Now for step two – actually making the list of links appear on your sidebar.
To make your blogroll/links appear on your site’s sidebar click on the “Appearance” button of your dashboard’s left-hand navigation bar. Then click on “Widgets”. Assuming that your theme is widget enabled, and if it’s not I think you need a new theme, just click on “Links”. A links widget will be added to the bottom of your widgets for that sidebar.
That’s all there is to it! You’ve now got links in your sidebar!