How to Create and Use WordPress Categories

WordPress Tutorial #12

Block 2 is WordPress itself

When you use WordPress Categories properly, you can help your site visitor find what he’s looking for quickly and easily.

As an internet user, there’s nothing worse than going to a website and not finding what you want. And, as a site owner, there’s nothing worse than having potential customers leave because you’ve not made it easy for them.

A good rule of thumb is that the reader should be able to find anything on the site within three clicks.

WordPress Categories help make that possible.

#1. Decide What Categories to Use

Categories are an important part of your site structure. As such, you should spend some time thinking about the categories you want to use on your site.

Sometimes it helps to sketch them out. I like to use a mind-mapping tool called XMind, or a spreadsheet.

You can nest categories. For example, if your website is all about clothing you might have three main categories: Men, Women and Children.

But you don’t really want to have blazers show up with bathing suits, so you make sub-categories. Maybe under Women you’ll have Casual, Work and Formal. Then you can have more categories under those.

It sounds complicated, but by creating those nested categories your readers will have an easier time finding exactly what they’re looking for.

Once you’ve figured out what categories you need and how they fit together, it’s time to create them in WordPress.

#2. Create Your Categories

Click on Posts/Categories

Log into your WordPress Dashboard and click on Posts and then Categories.

WordPress Categories

Add your New Category

Following the example above, let’s add some new categories to our clothing site.

Add a WordPress Category

In the Add New Category Name I’ll type Women.

WordPress will insert the slug for me. (That’s a word or phrase that is URL friendly.)

Since this is a top-level category, I’ll leave None in the Parent section.

Under Description I’ll type in Women’s Clothing.

Add a New WordPress Category

Click the Add New Category button, and you’re all set. Here’s what the category list looks like.

Add a WordPress Category

Add a Subcategory

Let’s add the subcategories Casual and Career.

Follow the same procedure, but this time click the dropdown Parent and select Women. This tells WordPress that the new category is a subcategory.

Add a WordPress Category

Fill in the remaining areas, and click the Add New Category button again.

Here’s what your category list looks like over on the right-hand side of your screen.

Add a WordPress Category

Notice that Women appears first, and that Casual and Career are indented underneath it.

Looking at the slugs WordPress has created, I spot a potential problem. The slug for Career is career-women. That’s fine. But the slug for Casual just says casual. Since I plan to have a Casual category for Men’s clothing as well, that could be confusing. Fortunately, it’s an easy fix.

Make Necessary Changes

Hover your mouse over the Casual category, then click on Quick Edit. Change the slug to casual-women and click the Update Category button.

Here’s what it looks like now.

Add a WordPress Category

Continue Adding Categories and Subcategories as Needed

#3. Assign Categories to Posts

When you create a new post, assign the relevant category (or categories) to it.

Select a WordPress Category

This particular post is going into three categories: How To, _Block 2 WordPress and Tutorial. (The second category is a subcategory of the first!) When a reader searches for any of these categories, it’ll show up.

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