A Simple Guide to Using Categories in WordPress

WordPress is a widely used content management system that powers countless websites on the internet. One of its notable features is its ability to categorize content, allowing website visitors to easily navigate and locate the information they need. This article delves into what categories mean in WordPress and why they are significant for website visitors.

Definition of categories in WordPress

Categories are utilized to group related posts or pages together. They serve as a classification system that organizes content by topic or subject matter, giving visitors a quick overview of the main themes or subjects covered on the site.

Importance of categories for visitors

Categories are crucial for website visitors because they provide an organized and structured way of browsing through a site’s content. With effective categorization, visitors can easily find what they’re looking for without having to sift through irrelevant information. Furthermore, categories can help visitors discover new content that they may be interested in as related posts within a category are often displayed together.

Throughout the rest of the article, I will cover the basics of how to add categories to WordPress, how to create sub-categories, and the distinction between categories and tags. By the end of this piece, you will have a beginner’s understanding of how to use categories in WordPress to improve your content organization and enhance your website’s user experience.

1. Adding Categories

Default Category

When you create a new WordPress site, the platform automatically creates a default category for your posts. By default, WordPress assigns the name “Uncategorized” to this category. However, you can rename it or create a new default category according to your preferences.

Default Category

How to Add a New Category

Adding a new category in WordPress is a simple process. Here’s how you can do it:

How to Add a New Category
  1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click on “Posts” in the left-hand menu.
  3. Select “Categories.”
  4. In the “Add New Category” section, enter the name of your new category.
  5. If you want to add a category hierarchy, choose a parent category from the “Parent Category” drop-down menu.
  6. Click “Add New Category.”

Now your new category is added to your WordPress site.

Creating a URL-Friendly Slug

When you create a new category in WordPress, the platform automatically generates a URL-friendly slug based on the name of your category. However, you can edit the slug to make it more user-friendly and SEO-friendly.

Here’s how you can do it:

Creating a URL-Friendly Slug
  1. Go to the “Categories” section in your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click on the category you want to edit.
  3. Scroll down to the “Slug” section.
  4. Enter your desired slug in the “Slug” field.
  5. Click “Update” to save your changes.

2. Creating Child Categories

Hierarchical Structure of Categories

In WordPress, you can create a hierarchical structure of categories by creating child categories under parent categories. This allows you to organize your posts more efficiently and make it easier for your readers to navigate your site.

How to Create a Child Category

Creating a child category in WordPress is similar to creating a regular category. Here’s how you can do it:

How to Create a Child Category
  1. Go to the “Categories” section in your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click on the parent category you want to create a child category for.
  3. In the “Add New Category” section, enter the name of your new child category.
  4. Choose the parent category from the “Parent Category” drop-down menu.
  5. Click “Add New Category.”

Now your new child category is added to your WordPress site.

Adding a Description and Slug

You can add a description and slug to your child categories, just like regular categories. Adding a description helps your readers understand the purpose of the category while adding a slug makes it more user-friendly and SEO-friendly.

Here’s how you can add a description and slug to your child category:

Adding a Description and Slug
  1. Go to the “Categories” section in your WordPress dashboard.
  2. Click on the child category you want to edit.
  3. Scroll down to the “Description” section.
  4. Enter your desired category description in the “Description” field.
  5. Scroll down to the “Slug” section.
  6. Enter your desired slug in the “Slug” field.
  7. Click “Update” to save your changes.

Creating and organizing categories in WordPress is essential for effective content management and site navigation. By following the steps outlined in this article, you can easily add, edit, and organize your categories and child categories to optimize your WordPress site.

3. Editing and Deleting Categories

Categories are not set in stone, and you may need to edit or delete them over time. This section will guide you through the process.

How to Edit Categories

How to Edit Categories
  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, hover over the “Posts” or “Pages” section, depending on where your category is located.
  2. Click on “Categories.”
  3. Find the category you want to edit and hover over it.
  4. Click on “Edit.”
  5. Make your changes to the name, slug, or description.
  6. Click “Update” to save your changes.

Deleting Categories

If you no longer need a category, deleting it is easy:

  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, hover over the “Posts” or “Pages” section.
  2. Click on “Categories.”
  3. Find the category you want to delete and hover over it.
  4. Click on “Delete.”
  5. WordPress will prompt you to move all the posts in that category to a different category or to the default category. Choose the option you prefer.
  6. Click “Confirm” to delete the category.

Changing the Default Category

The default category is the category that WordPress assigns to posts when you forget to assign a category. You can change it in just a few steps:

Changing the Default Category
  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, hover over the “Settings” section and click on “Writing.”
  2. Under “Default Post Category,” select the category you want to use as the default.
  3. Click “Save Changes.”

4. Displaying Categories

Once you’ve created your categories, you’ll want your visitors to be able to find them. Here are a few ways to display your categories:

Placing a List of Categories in the Sidebar

The sidebar is an excellent place to display your categories, and it’s easy to set up:

Placing a List of Categories in the Sidebar
  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, hover over the “Appearance” section and click on “Widgets.”
  2. Find the “Categories” widget and drag it to your sidebar.
  3. Choose the options you prefer, such as whether to show post counts or hierarchy.
  4. Click “Save” to add the widget to your sidebar.

Using a Categories Widget

The Categories Widget allows you to display a dropdown menu of categories in your sidebar or footer. Here’s how to set it up:

  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, hover over the “Appearance” section and click on “Widgets.”
  2. Find the “Categories” widget and drag it to your sidebar or footer.
  3. Choose the options you prefer, such as whether to show post counts or hierarchy.
  4. Click “Save” to add the widget to your site.

Adding Categories to the Navigation Menu

If you prefer, you can add your categories to your site’s navigation menu:

Adding Categories to the Navigation Menu
  1. In the WordPress Dashboard, hover over the “Appearance” section and click on “Menus.”
  2. Find the “Categories” section in the left-hand column.
  3. Check the categories you want to add to the menu and click “Add to Menu.”
  4. Rearrange the menu items as needed by dragging them up or down.
  5. Click “Save Menu” to add the new menu to your site.

5. Categories vs Tags

In WordPress, categories and tags are two ways to organize and classify your posts. While they may seem similar at first glance, they serve different purposes and have different uses. In this section, we will explore the definition and uses of tags, the difference between tags and categories, and how to convert categories to tags.

Definition and uses of tags

Tags are keywords or phrases that describe the content of your post. They are used to provide additional information about the post and help readers find related content. Unlike categories, tags are not hierarchical and can be added to any post regardless of its category.

For example, if you are writing a blog post about baking a chocolate cake, you could add tags like “chocolate”, “cake”, “baking”, “recipe”, etc. These tags would help readers find other posts on your blog that are related to chocolate cakes or baking.

Difference between tags and categories

While both categories and tags are used to organize your posts, they serve different purposes. Categories are hierarchical and are used to group similar posts together. They provide a broad overview of the content of your blog and help readers navigate to the topics they are interested in.

Tags, on the other hand, are non-hierarchical and provide specific details about the content of your post. They are used to link related posts together and provide a more detailed view of your content.

For example, if your blog is about food, your categories might be “desserts”, “appetizers”, “entrees”, etc. Within each category, you could have tags like “chocolate”, “vegetarian”, “gluten-free”, etc.

How to convert categories to tags

If you have been using categories to organize your posts and have decided that tags would be a better fit for your blog, you can easily convert your categories to tags. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Install and activate the “Categories to Tags Converter” plugin.
  2. Go to the “Tools” menu in your WordPress dashboard and select “Import”.
  3. Choose “Categories and Tags Converter” from the list of import options.
  4. Follow the instructions to convert your categories to tags.

Keep in mind that converting categories to tags will change the structure of your blog and may affect your SEO. Make sure to update any internal links that were pointing to your old categories and monitor your search engine rankings to make sure there are no negative effects.

Final Thoughts

Understanding how to use categories in WordPress is an essential skill for any blogger or website owner. By organizing your content into categories, you can help your readers navigate your site more easily and find the information they are looking for. Additionally, categories can help improve your SEO by making it easier for search engines to index your site.

By following the steps outlined in this beginner’s guide, you can start using categories in WordPress effectively and efficiently. Remember to consider the needs of your readers when creating categories, and be sure to regularly review and update them as your site evolves. With a little practice, you’ll be a WordPress category expert in no time!