How to Put an External Link in a WordPress Navigation Menu

Do you know how to put an external link in a WordPress navigation menu? (On most WordPress sites that’s the horizontal menu that runs across the top of the page.) Ordinarily the links in that menu connect to pages or posts of the site. You might want, however, to link to some external resource on the internet, perhaps another website you own, or a collection of photos, etc.

There’s probably a way to do this by coding, but an easier way I’ve found is to install the “Link to Page” plugin. Just go to the “installed plugins” page from your Dashboard, hover over “plugins” and click on “installed plugins”, then click on “add new.” Next, type “Page Links To” into the search blank and press the search button. A list of plugins will appear, and “Page Links To” will be the top entry. Click “install” and after it installs (which takes just seconds) click on “activate.”

Now you need to create a page for your external link. In the Dashboard left menu hover over “Pages” and click “add new.” An editing window for that new page will appear. You will want to name it with a fairly short name, so that it won’t take up too much room in your navigation menu. Don’t put any content on this page. Once you have named the page, click the “publish” button to the right.

Now you will want to assign the place for that new page in your navigation menu. This can be done one of two ways:

The first way to set the order of links in your primary menu is as follows:
In the editing window of any page, in the right hand margin you will see, under “Page Attributes”, a little box labeled “order”. The left most link in a WordPress menu should have the number 0. The next page to its right should get the number 1, and the next one to its right, 2, and so on. If you want a page to be accessible via a pull-down menu from another link, under the Parent setting select the name of the page you want that pull down menu to descend from.

A second and more elegant way to set the order of links in a WordPress menu is as follows:

In the Dashboard hover over “Appearances” at the left margin and select “Menus”. This brings up a page that lets you create menus in WordPress. In the “Menu Name” window type Primary Navigation. Then click on the “create menu” button. Next, on the left, locate the pages you want to be accessible from the menu. Check the boxes next to the pages you want to include and then click “Add to Menu”. On the right hand side of the page you will see rectangles appear, each bearing a name of a page. You can set the order of your menu links by dragging and dropping those rectangles. The rectangle at the top of the stack will be your left most link. The one below it will be the next link to the right in your horizontal menu. To make a page accessible by a drop-down menu, drag its rectangle slightly to the right of its parent’s rectangle. When you have arranged all the rectangles in the order you wish, click on the “save menu” button. Now check your WordPress site to make sure that the order of your menu links is as you wish. If not, go back to the dragging and dropping of rectangles on the Menus page and re-save your work.

So now you have a page for your external resource link in your primary navigation menu, and it’s in the order you wish in that menu, but there is no web address (url) assigned to it yet. Here’s how to assign that url:

In the Dashboard, hover over “Pages”, then click on “all pages”. By the name of the new page you created to bear the external link, click on “edit”. This brings up the editing window for that page. Scroll down below the editing window and locate the “Page Links to” section. Next, click on the “a custom url” button and type in the url of the external resource you want that page to link to. It’s probably a good idea also to check the “open this link in a new tab” box. Finally, save what you’ve done by scrolling back up to the top of the page and clicking on the “update” button. (That button will be called “publish” if you had created the page just as a draft and are now publishing it for the first time.)

There’s a lot of detail in this post. You might want to watch the video below to review the steps.

2 thoughts on “How to Put an External Link in a WordPress Navigation Menu

  1. You are a GEM! I’ve been tearing my hair out trying to find a solution to this…many hours lost till I found you post! Muchly appreciated!

  2. You’re welcome, Nekesauk. Please tell your friends about CyberKenBlog. I aim to pass along news of inexpensive if not free tools and techniques to help you get web savvy.

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