In this edition of WordPress Weekend we’ll explore managing and using categories in your WordPress blog. If you’re like most people, you probably didn’t think out your categories too well at first. You also may have ended up creating far too many categories. If you’ve ever wanted to change the focus of your blog, dealing with categories is one of the bigger hurdles to clear.
The Basics: Using and Adding Categories
I’m not sure if there’s an HTML 5 fallback for the above video, so apologies to those viewing this on an iOS device (which doesn’t allow Flash media). The video also goes into the difference between categories and tags. If you want to know more about categories and tags in general, check out my post on it.
Add and delete categories without writing a post
You can create and manage categories without writing a post or a page. The above video shows you how. One cool trick you’ll learn in the video above is how to convert categories to tags. This is helpful if you’ve ended up with more categories than you really need or find yourself overusing a few tags.
Batch Cat is an older plugin that still works with the most recent version of WordPress. It’s simple to use but the interface may not be the most intuitive for some folks. That’s why I made the video above to show you how it works (If you can’t see the video in your reader or email, you can check it out on YouTube).
Add categories to pages
This plugin lets you assign categories (and tags, also) to pages. You probably won’t ever need this, but when you do, you really do. Helpful if your site has lots of pages, but you don’t want to create parent and child pages and use categories instead.
Pretty sidebar categories
This plugin will let you create a nice-looking category display in your WordPress sidebar. There are many plugins for displaying categories in various ways.
Category checklist expander
From the administration side of categories, it’s an annoyance that the little widget window that lists your categories when you write a post is so small. This plugin expands it to show all of your categories.
How many categories should you have?
There are no rules about this, but my suggestion is you should probably have no more than seven at most. Three to five are ideal. With WordPress’s menu system, you can easily add links to your category archive pages in your site’s main navigation.
How to create good categories
The best way to have great categories is to plan them in advance of writing any content for your blog at all. It may be too late for you, but don’t worry, that’s why much of the above material in this post is relevant to you. The next most important thing to do is never create categories on a whim as you write. Decide your categories and stick to them unless you’re changing the focus of your site.
To create a good category, think about how your audience would classify your content, not how you the expert would do it. Think about the topics your audience would find interesting. If they saw your category name, would they think, Oh, that sounds interesting and click on it? Let’s say you were blogging about taxes. People would probably want to know stuff like how to get more deductions, how to get bigger refunds, how to deal with the IRS, and so forth. Those might make for good categories.
Don’t be afraid to see how other sites have created their categories. Take a look at large news sites or magazine sites and see how your niche fits within it.
Weekends are a good time for some laid-back maintenance, so have fun tidying up your WordPress categories.