WordPress Pages + Categories: What to Use + When?

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posted on: January 1, 2018

Most bloggers under utilize their WordPress categories and rely too heavily on static pages. The two different types of templates offer different opportunities depending on the content, and I want to review a few best practices.

The Main Difference Between Pages + Categories

WordPress Pages are static; they are created by simply enter in the images and text you want on the page. Changes are manually implemented. Typical blog pages include About, Services, Terms, and Contact. This content should not change daily, even monthly (likely updated quarterly).

WordPress Categories are dynamic; they update with each new post (as long as you properly categorize the post). WordPress categories offer an opportunity  to show off an informal portfolio of post content, collaborations, and much more.

So, you do not want to use a page to showcase selected post content. Instead, you want to use categories.

Page Best Practices

Since WordPress pages are static, they should be SEO optimized and complete.

  • Be Smart with Permalinks + Keywords: “about”, “services”, “contact” are general words, and people don not search “about”. For your About page permalink, instead of using the word “about”, your “firstname-lastname” would be a good permalink with your First and Last Name as the keyword. You could repeat this strategy using blog specific descriptors on your other supporting pages.
  • Optimize those images! Use smart and purposeful keywords in your alt tags and title tags.
  • Strong Content: The text on your static pages should be rich and purposeful. If you are a fashion blogger, make sure you use that word in your about page. Location is also helpful.
  • High Quality Images: Since these pages are static, these images should align with your overall site branding and be superb quality. I also try to include more vertical images, since they’ve got a better pin performance than horizontal.
  • CTA: Each static page should have a call-to-action. What should the reader do at the end of the post? Email you? View more collaboration? Follow you on Instagram? Whatever it is, be explicit!
  • Consolidate: If you don’t have the content for the page, don’t create it. You want your pages to be rich and exciting. Two sentences and a picture are not attractive. Instead of a contact page, you might want to link to your email and have a CTA at the end of each page to email.

Curating Your Categories

Categories are significantly underused and curated by most bloggers. Blog posts take a lot of effort to plan and write. To ensure, your posts as a longer lifespan than a day, you can utilize categories in your menu. Most themes allow you to enter a description for your category. Using basic html, you can add images, stylized text, and do much more. This functionality allows you to provide a 1-2 sentence description of your category and a call-to-action.

Case Study: You have written several posts that include brand collaborations. Instead of having a static page where you need to update it every month, you can create a category called “Collaborations”. Quick edit your posts with that category, and then create a description with image and text that explains what kind of opportunities you do and how they can contact you. This way, your portfolio is continually updated with each new post.

Category Best Practices

A few small changes to your daily posts can take your category templates from flop to fab!

  • Organize Your Categories with Purpose: Starting out, broad categories seem to be a great fit. However, in the long-term, you will likely want to use more specific categories. If you are a lifestyle blogger, instead of labeling all of your posts “Style”, you might want to separate outfits from shopping guides. Great example: Poor Little It Girl
  • Featured Images: Using similarly styled featured images can give your category page a very cohesive look. Great example: Out to Eat
  • Include Opportunities for Readers to Search Your Categories: A blog sidebar aims to provide supporting content to the reader – things they might be interested in. Stylized call-outs that lead to beautiful category templates are a great way to keep readers on your site. Great example: Modern Dame
  • Introductions + CTA: As I mentioned above, instead of just throwing a list of posts in your readers’ faces. Introduce the category to them. What’s the overall goal of these posts? What should the reader take away? Great example: Here’s The Skinny
  • Theme with a Purposeful Category Layout: WordPress themes come with a different stylized and formatted category view. If you are considering a custom design, then see what’s out there with other sites and talk to your designer about what would best make sense with your content. All the premade blog themes come with different stylized category views, so that bloggers can maximize their content.

Action Steps

You might be realizing that you have a lot of work on your plate! That’s okay! Adjusting your pages and categories could give your site a whole new look and feel without the expense of a rebrand. I also strongly encourage my rebranding clients to work on this content as part of their client homework. You might want to consider writing your blog’s business goals before you embark on this endeavor. There are a few other posts that might answer some questions:

Want more WordPress tutorials? Check out more posts!

Editor's Note

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madelyn says:

This was so informative and helpful. It’s no wonder yours was the first result when I googled the pages vs. categories matter. Thank you so much.

    Lindsay Humes says:

    No problem! I’m glad you found it helpful!

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