How WordPress Posts, Pages, Categories, & Tags Work

Your WordPress website has a number of automated features, and this document discusses some of that automation. Some of the things said here have been achieved through experimentation and having made websites using HTML. WordPress does not seem to want to try and explain how the automation works, so some of the things said here are guesses–for example search engine results for your WordPress website will also show you what facts the search engines are taking note in their summaries about your articles.

WordPress Pages

A page in WordPress is static and it’s content might change (as you do re-edits) but the link to it does not change. An example of a page:

WordPress Posts Edits

A post in WordPress is always associated with a date, which is included in the URL.

One of the greatest fears of editing your blog posts, are that once you hit the save button, your blog page (post) will get a new date and thus a new URL–based on the new date of the edit. Since other articles may link to the blog page, they may still point to the older unedited version.

Editing your WordPress post does not change the date; and thus the URL also remains the same.

Here is a example document that had it’s URL (link) name changed: “Editing and changing the URL name of an article [article]:

Editing and changing the URL name of an article [article]:” also shows us that old links will remain valid. However it’s unknown how long this redirection to the correct URL for the article will go on.

WordPress Posts, Tags and Categories

Each post must have at least one category, but need not have a tag. Tags and categories will appear in a global list: This list incidentally does not only contain your blogs, but all the blogs that use that tag or category.

If your blogs allows you to show your tags (tag cloud) and categories (list of categories), then you can click on them and they will take you to all your articles that use that particular tag or category.

So tags and categories are helpful in searching though your own work; and this means you might have to think about categories and tags in terms of helping people find your stuff, and on a level of helping you find and organize your own work–this becomes important when you start to have a very large number of articles.

For the new user, the difference between a category and tag is hard to understand. The best explanations so far found are:

  1. Categories are tree like structures that can be restructured on the fly, and often with general names that have a broad meanings. A similar system is used in biology. You don’t need to extend to the lowest levels as your category list would be very long and annoy users.
  2. Tags were described as a word that defined a topic in more specific terms the a category (but here that is false). However because they are displayed as a Cloud of Tags, it is more easier to think of them as interest grabbing headline like words, or words that tempt users to click on them. Tag-Clouds don’t need to be huge, so general interest grabbing tag-words like: business can mean many things to do with an exchange of some sort, or an activity of some sort.
  3. Here there are a lot of Categories and Tags, but a lot of things are covered in this WordPress, so that is not unexpected. Try and keep their numbers as small as possible.
  4. The Category trees can be re-organized on the fly at any time you want, so don’t worry if you seem to start off with a few simple list of unrelated words that resemble tags, your mind will always like the idea of organizing them into some sort of hierarchical tree at some future point in time. For example business also appears in the categories, and at first that was upsetting, but it is the users who will chose to use the tag-cloud, or the list of categories (depending on what they like), so redundant words don’t seem to be a bad thing. Since a category list is different from a tag-cloud, the desire to change some word meanings is also not harmful. the word: Business also exists in the categories but it also exists under: organization, as commercial groups (defined in a variant way), a company, and a public organization (that includes businesses run by the government, NGOs, and non-profit).
  5. Be careful with tags, as when you have a lot of articles, deleting or adding them can make for a lot of editing. Here new tags are added to new articles, but not necessarily to old ones. Deleting a tag is avoided at all costs, but if confusion exists, it does no harm to add or modify a description. Modifying Tag-Names can also help in some cases (avoids deletion, keeps up with the times, and makes the tag more popular for use in your articles). Tags that are not used may be deleted, if you find a use for the deleted tags: they can always be re-added later.
  6. Since an article only needs a category, you can start off ignoring tags and tag-clouds. But add them as soon as you feel comfortable (and as early on as possible when you have only a few articles), as you may want to edit all your articles with a batch of brand new tags. Since tags are more like a single word (or a small number of words) headlines in a tag-cloud, they may be very general in meaning, attention grabbing, and may not exactly match the meaning in the categories section (categories and tags are defined differently because they are made use of by different users).
  7. While it is not done here (because similar words seem to do no harm) some of you may carefully use different words in the tags and categories to avoid confusion, and if it works for you… great. If most users like using both the category list, and the tag-cloud for some reason, you might want to consider this method.
  8. Avoid deleting categories (even if unused) as they often sit in a tree like structure. A tree can be re-organized, and the leaves can be trimmed (generally only required if the category is not used).

Search engines may use your tags and categories to help users find your articles. To a search engine, there probably is not any difference between tags and categories, both might be used equally by search engines when they index your WordPress website. However if search engines check out your WordPress site, they may see if the tag names and category names are relevant to the article they belong to.


Shortened link to article: 🗃 How WordPress Lists Posts, Pages, Categories, & Tags work [article]:

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