In Lorelle’s WordPress School free online course today we will explore the most important thing on the web: links. Specifically how WordPress automatically generates links on your site and how you can add these same links within the content and elsewhere on your WordPress site.
So far in this course we’ve covered the topic of links through the following tutorials:
- WordPress School: Links – The basics of links in WordPress, how to add them to your posts and Pages.
- WordPress School: Addresses and URLs – The structure of links in WordPress for your site content and various pageviews.
- WordPress School: Sharing WordPress Links – How to share links from your WordPress site with others.
- WordPress School: Intrasite Links – How to create links that connect your content to other content on your site, also known as internal links.
- WordPress School: Blockquotes – How to quote and link to the words and work of others through blockquotes and citations.
- WordPress School: The Article Series – How to put all these different types of links together in the content of a WordPress site.
As a reminder, the different types of general links are:
- External Links: Links to content off your site.
- Internal or Intrasite links: Links to content on your site.
- Jump Links: Links that “jump” to specific places on a single web page from that page or from another web page on the site.
Typically, the user creates links in the content and throughout the site’s layout and design. WordPress also automatically generates links through core functionality as well as Theme and Plugin features. By understanding the links generated within a WordPress site, you can take advantage of these links throughout your site.
The list of link types generated automatically through WordPress functionality includes:
- Site Title: The site title is a link to the front page of your site. It is generated in the WordPress Theme using the WordPress template tag called
bloginfo()to generate the URL of the site.
- Header Art: Most well-designed WordPress Themes use the
bloginfo()template tag to create a link around the header art, taking the visitor back to the front page of the site.
- Post Titles: Post titles are links to that post. They are generated through the WordPress Loop, the engine that generates content on WordPress sites. Post titles are featured on multiple post pageviews as well as on the post itself.
- Continue Reading (More): If using excerpts, the More feature, a link at the cut-off point will appear to instruct the visitor to click it to “Read More” or “Continue Reading.” The More Link is a jump link that jumps to that spot on the single post pageview so the reader can keep reading from that point forward. This link is only visible on the front page or the site or multiple post pageviews.
- Older/Newer Entries: The template tag
posts_nav_link()is used by WordPress Themes to generate links for multiple post pageviews such as the front page, categories, tags, etc., allowing navigation to previously published content. At the bottom of the web page you will find links that will take you to “Older Entries” or “Past Posts” or forward in time if you are moving backward to “Newer Entries” or “Next Posts.” The wording is set by the WordPress Theme.
- Next and Previous Posts: A link to the next and previous posts in chronological order is displayed by a WordPress Theme at the top, bottom, or both areas of a post, allowing navigation to flow in the publishing order by default. Unlike the Older/Newer Entries links, connecting multiple posts together, the Next and Previous Post links connect individual posts together. The template tag
next_post_link()is used in a WordPress Theme maybe customized in many ways so that the visitor will move from post to post in chronological publishing order or stay within a specific category or taxonomy of posts.
- Menu: Known as the nav, navigation, main nav, primary nav, nav bar, or menu, by default this is where your WordPress Pages are linked. If you wish to customize the placement and order of those links beyond the order set on each Page, use the Appearance > Menu feature. You may add links to Categories, Tags, or specific posts through the Menu customizer. Note that the menu customizer also permits creating multiple menus for widgetized areas such as the sidebar and footer.
- Categories: Links to categories are found in multiple places throughout a WordPress site. Category links are commonly found in the Widgetized areas with the use of the Categories Widget listing all the categories on your site for navigation. It is also found in the post meta data section of a post or Page, featuring the publishing date, author, categories, and tags associated with the content. Category links may also be found in the menus if added to the main navigation.
- Tags: Like categories, tag links are found in Widgetized areas, the post meta data section, and could be added to the main navigation menu.
- Authors: Author links are generated by the
get_author_link()template tag in a Theme to create a link to the author’s posts displayed on a web page known as the author pageview. If designed well in the Theme, this pageview features the name and bio from the “About You” data entered in the User Profile, along with a list of all posts published by that user. Author links are also featured in various Author Widgets.
- Links/Blogroll: While blogrolls are no longer in fashion, WordPress continues to support the Links manager. There, you may create categorized lists of links to your content or the content or sites of others to display link lists through Widgets. Enter the links and use the Widget to display them in widgetized areas grouped by category.
- Widgets: There are many link generating Widgets in WordPress, some that come by default, others added by Themes and Plugins. They include Pages, Categories, Tags (Tag Cloud), Most Recent Posts, Most Recent Comments, Custom Menus, Authors, Archives, and links added manually using the Text Widget.
- Comments: Links that invite or promote comments are found in several places in a WordPress Theme. Typically, a WordPress Theme displays a link to comments within the post meta data section and highlighted through the design. The template tag that generates this link can be styled by the Theme to create specific words to invite comments or report on the number of comments such as “We’ve got one comment on the board, come join the discussion.” There are also comment Widgets such as Most Recent Comments.
- Comment and Reply Links: Each comment in WordPress has a unique identifier that serves as a permalink to the comment or reply. You will find the link on the date and time link in the Comments screen or on each comment on the front-end view of the site. You may use this link to link to any comment published on your site within your post content to highlight the comment and refer to it.
- Trackback/Pingbacks: Trackbacks and pingbacks are notifications in your comments that there is a web page linking to the web page on your site. A trackback typically displays a small portion of the content near the link along with the name of the linking website and article title. Considered recommendations, these links connect presumably related content across the web. Hosted in the comments section of your site, treat them like comments, but respond on their site not yours. When you link to a web page off your site, if they have trackbacks enabled, you will generate a trackback in their comments as well.
- Feeds: Feeds, often known as RSS, Atom, or XML, allow syndication or subscription of your content through feed readers such as the WordPress.com Reader, Feedly, or other feed or news readers. WordPress automatically generates feed links in the header of your WordPress Theme, allowing easy adding of the site to any feed reader through the site address alone. There are also Feed Widgets to display feed links and subscriptions in widgetized areas. Some WordPress Themes and Widgets feature feed links next to categories to encourage subscription by category, not just the entire site. There are feeds for all posts, categories, tags, authors, all comments, and all comments on a specific post.
This is just the tip of the link iceberg in WordPress, but let’s look at how you can take advantage of these generated links on your site.
Links Within the Content
In the above example, I’ve manually added an author link, a post link, a category link, a category feed link, and a link to my contact form.
Not all of us have multiple contributors to our sites so author links aren’t commonly used, but category and feed links are easily incorporated into our content.
Whenever possible, link to the category your post is in. Make it part of the normal conversation, such as I do when talking about other posts in my WordPress School series. That is a link to the WordPress School category, helping readers find related content in that series. Or maybe you might be interested in other topics I cover about WordPress, WordPress News, or WordPress Tips? All of these are links to their categories.
Or drill down through your tags. I’ve written extensively on how WordPress handles multimedia and images to help manage your visual media. These are links to tags to help the reader find specific related content.
Linking to Comments
The above example features a post link and links to comments on that post. I could use this in an article today, referencing back to the long history and relationship I have with these people since publishing that article with much fear in 2006.
If someone gives you a great comment that inspires a new post, link to their comment, and to them and their site, as a reference and a thank you for the inspiration.
Sometimes people give us updated or invaluable information or “the right” answer in the comments. Update the article and consider adding a thank you link to their comment on the post.
Subscription Jump Link
One of the marketing techniques many people use is to encourage people to subscribe to their site. I highly recommend adding a Subscribe Page to your site with subscription and feed information and forms, but if you have a subscribe form Widget, you may link to that with a jump link.
To create a subscription jump link to jump a reader directly to the spot on the web page where your subscription form is in a sidebar Widget, you must identify a CSS ID in the HTML. You should have just finished the HTML tutorial series in this online course, so don’t be intimidated. View the source code and search for “subscribe” to locate the Widget. I found a unique ID in the form, “subscribe-blog.” Yours might be different.
The relative link on my site to this location would be:
<a href="#subscribe-blog" title="Jump link to subscription form.">subscribe by email to my site</a>
Find your unique ID in the HTML and try it. Put the link in your browser at the end of the URL and see if your browser will jump to that spot in the sidebar. If it is near the top of the page, don’t expect much jumping, but if the subscription is below the screen, expect some movement as the web page scrolls to that point. It doesn’t trigger the form or do anything but move the web page to that point on the page. You will need to do more to encourage subscribers and help them follow the instructions.
Using the Links Manager
While blogrolls are out of fashion, great long list of other sites promoted in your sidebar, there are still great uses for the Links manager feature in WordPress.
Have a specific reading order for some posts? Use this to add the list to your sidebar.
Have a list of suppliers, or specific posts that offer basic tutorials and how to instructions? List them with the Links feature.
The Links manager allows the addition of images to the links and a variety of other features. You may also use the Link Widget to change the order, even randomize the list of links.
Finding Things to Link To on Your Site
Knowing where to look for links on your site automatically generated by WordPress gives you links to use in your content.
Wish to link to related categorical content? Where do you look on your site within your WordPress Theme for category links? Widget areas? Post meta data section? Menu? Maybe your tag cloud?
Need to send people to your contact form? Instead of going to the Contact link and loading the Page, just look in the menu for the Contact link and copy that.
Wish to link to the most recent post on your site that you reference in the current article? You could go to the front page of the site and look for the link there, but if you are viewing any web page on your site and are using the Most Recent Posts Widget, look there for the link without switching web pages.
Look around your site to identify where each of the different types of links are found. While there are web standard locations for many of these links, each Theme may feature these links in different locations. The more familiar you are with them, the easier it will be to link to them.
Call-to-Action features are words or images used to motivate the reader to take action such as click a link in a graphic to subscribe, comment, sign up, or purchase something. We covered how to create call-to-action images and graphics in the WordPress School topics, as well as how to add words to images as part of creating call-to-action graphics. To use these, put a link around the graphic.
Knowing that there are now many different types of links automatically generated and available in WordPress, why not add those around a call-to-action image? I do that often with my badges such as the one at the top of this article.
Incoming Feed Links
The ability to feature content from other sites is easy with the Feed Links Widget (aka RSS Widget not RSS Links Widget).
The RSS Widget brings content from other sites, yours or those of others, to your site’s widgetized areas. In the sidebar on this site, I use it to highlight the latest WordPress news and articles from a collection of WordPress site feeds. On my class sites, I feature the latest posts from my students, helping other students find their work and comment.
I have many sites, and sometimes I use the RSS Widget to incorporate content from those sites into another, promoting the work I do elsewhere.
Your post categories have feeds, and so do your authors if you have multiple authors. Why not highlight a specific category or author through the RSS Widget?
Cover a specific industry? Why not feature the top news site for that industry in your RSS Widget, or create a collection of feeds from a variety of sites for a more comprehensive list of posts from your industry.
Feeds are fun to experiment with and incorporate in various ways on your site.
Links in the Text Widget
While there are WordPress Widgets that add automatically generated links, why not create your own list of links in a Text Widget, controlling what you link to on your site.
Do you have some specific tutorials or reading guides to help people with your blogging topic? Consider creating a list of links to those articles such as a series on learning how to paint, knit, or buy a new home, whatever your site’s topic. Promote these as your go-to tutorials to help people get started.
Do you write many article series? Consider promoting the article series in a text widget link list in the sidebar. I’ve done that with the graphic badges in my sidebar, each linking to the first article in the series.
Do you have a specific list of references, suppliers, or sources you’d like to include in the sidebar for your readers? You could use the Links feature, or manually create the link in a Text Widget, giving you more control over how they look. You might wish to explain why you recommend each site in the list as well.
Call-to-Action images and their links are excellent to add to a Text Widget as well.
Think of all the possibilities the text widget offers to make those automatically generated and invaluable links matter even more to your readers.
Today’s assignment is to review all these link types and publish a post on your test site incorporating as many as possible.
Incorporate links to Pages, individual posts, categories, tags, comments, feeds, and see how many you can find and link to on your test site. Work on making the links part of the language rather than “If you would like more information, click the WordPress Tips link.” Try something more like, “I’ve written extensively about various WordPress Tips, and I thought I’d bore you with one more.”
Experiment with Widgets and links. Use the default Widgets for Pages, Categories, and Tags, but also experiment with custom menus, Links, Feeds, and Text Widgets.
This is a tutorial from Lorelle’s WordPress School. For more information, and to join this free, year-long, online WordPress School, see: