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How To Organize Your Blog Posts With Categories

CategoriesSo lets say you’re a blogger who uses WordPress. You’ve got a great blog with awesome content that is continuously growing. :) The question at hand is how do you keep all of that awesome content organized? It’s an important question; after all, you don’t want your readers to stop by for one blog post and then disappear forever do you?

Of course not. You want to make it as easy as possible for your readers to find more posts that are relevant to their specific interests, both in the moment and in the future. The best way to do that is having a well organized Category structure. You see, everyone (including especially blog readers) has something very specific they are looking for. You may write content on that subject, which will get their attention, but odds are not everything you write will appeal to every reader.

So you Categorize! When you write a post, you can assign it to a Category, or multiple Categories. This post for example, is filed under the “WordPress Basics” Category.  I could also assign it to other Categories if more than one was applicable. Your readers can then sort the posts on your blog based on the categories you place them in – which helps them find more posts they’ll be interested in.

Selecting a Category for a post is pretty simple. On the right hand side of the Post Editing screen, the Categories section is just below the “Post Tags” section. All you have to do is check off the Categories you want this post to be filed under.

But What If I Don’t Have Any Categories Yet?

What’s that? The only Category you have right now is “Uncategorized?” We can fix that. “Uncategorized” is the default category for your posts. Once you’ve set up additional categories you can change the default on the “Settings > Writing” page.

If you’re already in a post and want to add a new category on the fly, you can click the handy little “Add New Category” link. You’ll be able to type in the name of the new Category and select if it should be a Child or Parent. We’ll discuss that a little more in a moment. As soon as you click the “Add” button, the new Category will be created and automatically selected for this post (Note: You’ll probably have to deselect “Uncategorized”).

Using the Post Categories Dashboard

You can add, edit and delete your Categories by selecting “Categories”  from the “Posts” menu. On the left hand side of that screen you have options for adding a new Category. Here’s a breakdown of each one:

  • Name – Exactly what it sounds like :)
  • Slug - A “URL friendly” version of the Category Name. If you have symbols or spaces in the name they’ll be replaced by dashes and other items that work in web addresses. You can leave this blank, and it will be created for you.
  • Parent – This allows you to create “Sub-Categories” for increased organization. A good example would be having a category of “Pets” with three sub categories named  “Cats,” “Dogs,” and “Birds.” If you wanted, you could then create additional Sub-Categories for individual breeds under “Dogs.”
  • Description – A brief description of what the Category contains. Depending on your theme, this may or may not be displayed on your Category pages. This can be left blank if you would like.

On the right hand side of the WordPress Categories Dashboard, you’ll see a list of all the different Categories on your blog. Sub-Categories will be listed below their Parent, allowing to keep tabs on how you’ve organized them. When you place your mouse over each item, you’ll see options for “Edit,” “Quick Edit,” and “Delete.” The “Quick Edit” option allows you to change the Name and Slug, but not the Parent or Description.

Changing Categories Down The Road

You can edit your Categories at any time, even if you already have posts in that Category. If you have your permalinks set up to include the category, I’d recommend keeping the slug the same. If you change the slug (and it appears in your permalinks) make sure you test links to your posts from before the change.

If you decide you want to completely delete a Category that already has posts in it, that’s fine too. The posts themselves won’t be removed from your blog, they’ll just be moved to “Uncategorized” (Unless they were also listed under another Category, of course).

Whether you decide to create new Categories as you write your posts or create a structure in advance is really up to you. Either way, keeping your Categories as organized as possible will help your readers find more reasons to stay on your blog longer, which is always a good thing. If you have any questions about using Categories, drop them in the comments.


5 Responses

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  1. Randall Gibbons says

    My blog is http://www.partnershiprussia.com/internationalchristianblog, and I created two different categories for posts. One is titled “Uncategorized Posts” and it is for text posts only. The other is “Must See Videos” and it is for posting videos within the posts only. When I load the site from the web, both categories appear on the same opening page together, but they should not. When I select a category option, they separate to their respective pages, but the videos loose the video image and only show a link.

    The second problem is, when the site initially loads, all of my widgets are correct, but when I select the category pages, my “Our Friends” widget in the right sidebar looses it’s images in both category views.

    This has got me crazy and I need some help!

  2. Chad says

    Hi Randall!

    I just sent you an email about your issues on your blog (the response was a bit long… would have been like another whole blog post if I’d put it up here :) )

    I hope some of the info I sent is helpful, and I look forward to seeing you around the blog!

  3. Rhea says

    Goodmorning,
    I have looked for a post for this but was unable to find one…This is what I want to do:)

    New! Thesis now features automatic dropdown menus, so if you have nested pages or categories, you’ll save space and gain style points with your slick new nav menu!

    I have pages in my Nav menu but I want to add pages to my “parent” Page and have them show up in the Drop Down Menu…

    Does this make since… Hope you can help me out

    Glad I found your site….Thank you David ( he is the one that forward the youtube video with you site)

  4. amber says

    hi! I’m a photographer and I want to create categories by month and then put the photo shoots i’ve done in that month. The problem is when i share the link it doesn’t say the title- it just says category May 2011. Is it possible to post the link with the title?

  5. Chad says

    @amber

    Hi amber – it’s hard to give an exact answer without knowing more about how you have your site organized – but generally, you can control the structure of your links on the “Permalinks” screen under “Settings” on your WordPress dashboard. That page will allow you to set up a custom url structure that includes the title. A link at the top of that screen will help you find the tokens you can use to build your links.

    Let me know if you need more specific help, maybe I can try to get a better feel for how your site is organized. :)



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