Categories, Tags and Menus
It Starts with Your Blog Post
All of your blog posts should have one or more categories and one or more tags. You can also make related blog posts available to your visitors via a Category menu item.
Here’s how to do it.
When you create a new blog post, you can assign one or more categories using the Category item in the right-hand sidebar.
If you have previously assigned categories to blog posts, they will be listed and you can select one or more from the list.
Whether or not you have existing categories, you can add a new one.
Enter the new category name and click the Add New Category button.
The new category will be:
- Assigned to the blog post
- Added to the category list so that it can be assigned to future blog posts
- Accessible via Posts >> Categories, where it can be edited independently.
The new category has been assigned to the blog post (indicated by the check mark)
Note: You can have a hierarchy of categories by using the Parent Category dropdown, but this is probably best left to a later stage (if at all). It’s wise to focus initially on creating useful categories that will bring related blog posts together.
Categories that you create as part of creating a blog post are saved and can be edited independently. New categories can also be created independently and then become available for selection when making a new post.
In the left sidebar menu, click on Posts >> Categories.
This will bring up a list of current categories and provide options to edit, delete or create new ones.
This screen can be very useful to “tidy up” your categories and make them consistent.
The Difference Between Categories and Tags
While similar, Categories and Tag have different purposes and are aimed at different audiences.
Categories are designed to assist with your website structure.
They associate related blog posts so that a visitor can see all of the posts containing a particular category.
For this reason, it’s very useful to include all of the relevant categories in each post.
So that if Post 1 has Category 1, 2 and 3, Post 2 has Category 1, 2 and 4 and Post 3 has category 2, 4 and 5, then a listing of posts with Category 1 will include Post 1 and Post 2. A listing of posts with Category 2 will have all three… and so on.
Tags, on the other hand, are designed to help search engines such as Google and Bing find posts that are relevant to people conducting searches.
Though it’s questionable how much effect they now have, as it’s clearly something that’s readily manipulated.
The simple approach that I take is to repeat my categories as tags, the difference in appearance being that I use title case for Categories and lower case for tags.
Adding a New Tag
Adding a new tag is very similar to adding a new category and can be done as you create the blog post.
Tags appear directly below Categories.
Instead of a list of tags like you have with categories, the Most Used Tags are shown and you can select one.
Alternatively, start typing a tag name and a list of matches will appear for selection.
You can, of course, continue to enter a completely new tag name and it will be both added to the list and associated with the blog post.
Just like Categories, Tags that you create as part of creating a blog post are saved and can be edited independently. New tags can also be created independently and then become available for selection when making a new post.
In the left sidebar menu, click on Posts >> Tags.
This will bring up a list of current tags and provide options to edit, delete or create new ones.
This screen can be very useful to “tidy up” your tags and make them consistent.
I’ve previously covered the principles of menu creation in the blog post Hey WordPress, What’s on the Menu?
Now let’s look specifically at using categories in your menu.
In the left-hand sidebar, go to Appearance >> Menus
The first thing we are going to do is set up a menu item called Categories.
We will do this as a Custom Link, so select Custom Links and then add the Categories menu item.
Enter a as the URL (we actually don’t want this menu item to have a URL, but WordPress won’t let us proceed without one, so we are just entering the simplest possible placeholder that we will delete later).
Enter Categories (or CATEGORIES) as the Link Text and Click the Add to Menu button.
Click on the down arrow next to the Categories menu item and remove the dummy URL.
Click and drag the menu item to where in the main menu you’d like it to appear.
The reason we do this menu item as a custom link is because we don't want anything to appear if a visitor clicks on it. It's not a page or a post and it contains no content. Essentially, it's a placeholder.
When a visitor hovers the mouse pointer over the menu item Categories, a sub-menu appears showing all the current categories. The visitor can then click on any of those to display the blog posts that have those categories assigned to them.
Now we are going to list all the individual categories as sub-menus under the Categories menu item.
Under Add Menu Items, select Categories.
Clicking on Categories will produce a list of all the categories.
Click the Select All checkbox and then the Add to Menu button.
Then simply click and drag the individual categories as sub-menus under the Categories menu (in whatever order you want).
This will then appear on your website’s header menu as a category list that your visitor can click on to see all of your posts that have that category.
Select Beginners Affiliate Marketing, for example.
This will show all the blog posts that share the selected category.
One of the great features of this is that it’s all automatically updated as you create new blog posts using existing categories.
Of course, if you create a new category, you will need to add it as a sub-menu.
But it’s a great way to add really useful navigation for your visitors to explore your website.