Making use of Categories and Category Archives in WordPress

Learn how to properly use categories in WordPress

While supporting our customers, we noticed that working with categories in WordPress can sometimes be confusing for people who haven’t worked with WordPress before. We often hear questions like How to create pages for categories? How to create categories in WordPress? How to link categories to pages? How to assign posts to categories? How to create category archives? and many more. We decided to publish a WordPress tutorial about this topic to help people who are new to WordPress and who have never used category archives with their WordPress themes before.

Organize Posts with Categories for better SEO and Usability

When publishing lots of articles on your WordPress website or blog, you usually want to group these articles based on categories and/or tags to have a well-organized structure on your website which is good for SEO and usability. However, we noticed many people start creating regular pages in WordPress to achieve this, which isn’t the correct approach as this isn’t how categories work in WordPress. What you will need instead are category archives and you’ll be surprised how easy it is to create / assign categories to your posts and make use of category archives in WordPress:

How to Create Categories in WordPress

By navigating to Posts => Categories in your WordPress dashboard, you will be able to create new categories and also see a list of previously created categories. In case you just started with WordPress, you probably will only see the WordPress default category called Uncategorized. You can add more categories that are suitable for your website or content genre and then click on the Add New Category button to save your new category in WordPress.

See the video tutorial: Adding New Categories in WordPress

The URL of category archives usually has the following structure (if you have pretty URLs enabled):

http://www.example.com/category/category-name

So in case you have created a category with the name “Lifestyle”, the category archive for this specific category will have this URL:

http://www.example.com/category/lifestyle

How to Assign Posts to Categories and Category Archives

When you navigate to Posts in your WordPress dashboard, you’ll see an overview of saved and published posts. You can click Quick Edit for a particular post and a panel with a few options will be displayed. You can now assign one or more categories to your post and group your posts in certain categories of your choice. When assigning preferred categories to your posts, these posts will be displayed on the particular category archives automatically. Make sure you save your changes.

See the video tutorial: Posts & Categories – How to assign posts to categories

Please note, in general there are multiple ways to create categories and assign posts to categories in WordPress. For example when you initially create new posts under Posts => Add New, you can immediately assign categories from the available categories or you can create new categories right there as well. Here you can find more information: How to create new posts in WordPress.

How to Add Categories to your Navigation

While supporting our customers we also noticed that the main reason why people start creating pages instead of using category archives properly is because they wanted to add the categories to their navigation menu. There really is no need to create pages for this as you can add category archives to your navigation menu the same way as you would do with pages. You can navigate to Appearance => Menus in your WordPress dashboard, create or edit your custom menu and then add any menu item that you would like to appear in your navigation, it doesn’t matter if these are pages, categories, tags or even external links, this completely is up to you.

That means if you would like to add category archives to your custom menu, simply select the menu you want to modify and add those menu items you like. Adjusting the order of menu items is always possible via drag & drop. Please don’t forget to save your changes. By the way, you can also modify menus in WordPress within the customizer.

See the video tutorial: Category Menu Items – Easily add categories to custom menus

The information in this article has also been helpful for users with the following questions:

  • How to use a category as menu item?
  • How to create category landing pages?
  • Display posts based on category
  • Displaying specific categories on each page
  • Linking categories to pages
  • Adding categories to navigation menu

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