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How to Link to External Links from the Post Title in WordPress

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How to Link to External Links from the Post Title in WordPress

Blogging is all about sharing resources, and often it is the case where blogger wants to just link to an external resource because he/she finds it useful to their readers. The main problem they face is that they have to make a new post in order to just tell the readers to go to another site. We have a solution for this problem and that is through a custom field hack which allows the WordPress blogger to link to the external resources in their post title. So when their user clicks on the post title, it takes them to another article.

This tutorial can help creating a resource section on your blog if you want to link to external resources, and it is a doorway to a lot more customization in WordPress if thought out correctly.

First thing you need to do is open your functions.php which is found in your template folder where other files like single.php and page.php is located. Paste the following code:

function print_post_title() {
global $post;
$thePostID = $post->ID;
$post_id = get_post($thePostID);
$title = $post_id->post_title;
$perm = get_permalink($post_id);
$post_keys = array(); $post_val = array();
$post_keys = get_post_custom_keys($thePostID);

if (!empty($post_keys)) {
foreach ($post_keys as $pkey) {
if ($pkey=='url1' || $pkey=='title_url' || $pkey=='url_title') {
$post_val = get_post_custom_values($pkey);
if (empty($post_val)) {
$link = $perm;
} else {
$link = $post_val[0];
} else {
$link = $perm;
echo '<h2><a href="'.$link.'" rel="bookmark" title="'.$title.'">'.$title.'</a></h2>';

Now you would need to open your index.php and find the following code or something similar:

<h2><a href="<?php the_permalink() ?>" rel="bookmark"><?php the_title(); ?></a></h2>

Change it to:

<?php print_post_title() ?>

Once you have done that, upload both files to your webhost.

Now when you are writing a post, scroll down to where it says Custom Fields. Find the name: url1, title_url, or url_title and add the url to the external resource. Add a short description if you so desire, and hit publish.

Don’t be afraid, this function does not take away your normal post title links, all it does is add an extra query which checks for custom field for external links. If the external link is not included, it refers to the default code and link to the normal post page.

Update: We were informed by our user that there is a plugin for those users who don’t want to do the manual theme hacking by following this tutorial.

It is called Page Links To

Check it out and use that if you don’t want to deal with the codes.

This tutorial was requested by Tamar Weinberg who writes at Techipedia, and also work with Mashable Magazine. We encourage our users to ask us questions because their questions not only help them, but it helps the WordPress community as well.

Editorial Staff at WPBeginner is a team of WordPress lovers led by Syed Balkhi. Page maintained by Syed Balkhi.

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  • WPBeginner Staff

    We would recommend you to use Page Links to plugin.

  • WPBeginner Staff

    Yes but that’s not good. In the HTML output it will appear like this:

    External Link

  • Sagar Patil

    these is not my first time on these site, i visited 2-3 months ago when i was started. and many of my problem was solved by reading your posts. now i wanted any plugin or coding for link my post directly to other website, i search and read many websites but finally got solution here, that Plugin. i used that its working. thank you because of your help and post i solved my problem again .

  • Jong Fui Fa

    you solve my problem! Can’t thank you enough. Thank you and happy new year!

  • Kohana

    Thanks for the tutorial, although I haven’t tried it out.

  • Alexey

    Could anyone please help me with this: I want the title of some posts link to the external source (And I’m doing it with Page Links To plugin) while also preserving an internal permalink for my post so I could share it?
    You can take a look at sites like where many post titles link to external source but there’s a permalink icon (star) for the post itself to the right.
    Any ideas?

  • florian


  • igorlaszlo

    thanks for your post… i am not lazy at all :) but i prefer plugins not to have a mistake as i am not perfect in php coding… So, thanks to you that i found “page links to” plugin ! I just want to precise that the page you indicated in your article does not show anything anymore, people who want the plugin must look for it directly on WP plugins directory…
    The plugin lets posts & pages, both to be linked to anywhere you want and have an option if we want it to open in a new window or not… the options can be choosen at each post/page html editor below…

    • Editorial Staff

      Thank you for letting us know. We fixed the link :)

  • Chazz

    This is a fantastic tutorial, thank you. Quick question, how does one make the external url open in a new window?

    • Chazz

      Without using a plugin I meant to ask (Plugins are the lazy way right?)

      • Editorial Staff

        No plugins are not the lazy way. We are using that plugin on this site. If you want to open without plugin method in a new window, then use target=”_blank” property in your anchor tag.

        • Chazz

          Where exactly is my anchor tag. I’m sorry if its a stupid question, I’m not a web designer. if you could just tell me where that is in the code. I’m sorry if I’m asking to many questions, and certainly don’t mean to offend with the “lazy plugin” joke.

        • Editorial Staff

          The anchor tag starts a href=”xyz”… add a target=”_blank”. You should use the plugin instead of hacking your theme. The good part about WordPress is that it has some very good plugins that are available.

  • Patrix

    Does this no longer work with the latest version of WordPress (3.3.1)?

    • wpbeginner

      It still works :)

  • Crysislevel

    nice tutorial! i didn’t know we could actually do this…now redirecting to another site is a lot easy. thanx! :) :P

  • Felipe D.

    How can I get the same result in the site feed? Thank you!

    • Editorial Staff

      You would have to modify the feed code. Look at our article on how to manipulate RSS feeds.

  • David

    Is it possible to style the external links so they are, say, a different colour compared to the standard post titles?

    • Editorial Staff

      There is a plugin that adds an icon in front of all external links which certainly distinguishes between the normal links.

      • Justin

        Which is the plugin that adds an icon in front of external links? Does anyone know the name, or can point me to the correct place?

        Thank you.


  • Piet

    Hi I came across your article via a couple of links. What I am exactly looking for is somewhat different than what you have shown here, but I think it is a start.

    I don’t want to link to somewhere. I do however want to extract the title from the post_ID outside of the loop.

    Once I have extracted the title I can use that for a sidebar-function I am creating. Would part of your function suit that purpose?


    • Editorial Staff

      Yes it should work. You would have to use Query Posts function in the sidebar to get specific Posts with IDs…

  • dejan

    Is there a “hack” to this hack :-) so external links open in new window?

    • Editorial Staff

      There are many plugins that will allow you to open external links in a new window. Install one of those.

  • Simplywile

    It doesn’t work

    Parse error: syntax error, unexpected ‘>’ in /var/www/vhosts/ on line 317

    • Editorial Staff

      We have edited the code, if you directly copied and pasted the code, there were some formatting error in there.

      You can also use the plugin, it simplifies things, but the code should work as we have installed it in a few sites.