When you first start using WordPress, you may get confused by the terminology and jargon. Even for something as simple as Posts and Pages.
You obviously understand the meaning of the words, but within WordPress, each behaves differently.
After you’ve read this post, you’ll have a clear understanding of the major differences between WordPress Posts and Pages. If you still have questions once you’ve reached the end, feel free to ask in the comments section.
To begin with, here’s a summary of how Pages work:
(By the way, these statements are true for the default settings. Plugins change some or all of these abilities.)
- Pages are static and sit at the top-level of the domain (http://yourdomain.com/page-name/)
- Pages sit outside the permalink structure
- Pages cannot be assigned to a category
- Pages do not appear in RSS feeds
- Pages do not display the publication date
And here’s a summary of how posts work:
- Posts are dynamic and time-relevant, so they typically inlcude a publication date
- Posts must be assigned to at least one category
- Posts appear in the RSS feed in reverse chronological order (newest first)
- Posts can be tagged
Let’s look at some of these statements and go into a bit more detail
1. Pages are static and sit at the top-level of the domain (http://yourdomain.com/page-name/)
This doesn’t mean they show on the home page of your blog. It means they exist on their own and cannot be added to a category or tagged.
Page permalinks are never prefixed with a date, category or number.
Some people say pages carry more authority than posts.
2. Pages sit outside the permalink structure
The permalink is the URL of any given page.
Posts have a number of permalink options. You choose which one best suits your needs or taste.
For example, you may want to include the publication date, the category or the author’s name.
Or, like I do on this site, you may prefer using nothing more than the post’s name.
Many people prefer using the post name option as they believe it helps improve search engine rankings.
Both of these sites are extremely popular and get tons of traffic from search engines – this shows there’s more to ranking than short permalinks.
Make your decision about the permalink structure in the very early days of your site. Changing it later, when you’re getting traffic, without putting in a place a set of redirects, will cause a drop in traffic.
3. Pages cannot be assigned to one or more categories (posts can)
Categories and tags keep your related content together so your readers can easily find posts about a particular topic. You can assign posts to multiple categories and attach as many tags to each post as you like.
Every post must be in at least one category (hence ‘Uncategorized‘). This is a particularly ugly title, which WordPress uses if you don’t assign a post to category with a more suitable name.
To change the default category from something other than ‘Uncategorized’, go to Settings > Writing and change the Default Post Category option.
If you use the category name in your permalink, switching a post from one category to another without setting up a 301 redirect, will result in a loss in traffic because the URL changes to include the new category.
So, http://domain.com/category/post-name/ becomes http://domain.com/new-category/post-name/.
This is another reason why I prefer using post name for the permalink structure.
Categories and tags come into their own when displaying and finding content on your site.
Here’s a picture, from the News Theme demo by StudioPress, which demonstrates how they work.
The picture shows three separate areas, each one controlled by a widget drawing content from a specific category. It’s typically used on a home page.
Also, many blogs display the category and tags a post is assigned to. This allows readers to click the links to the topics they’re interested in.
You can display categories and tags in sidebar and footer widgets, giving readers even more chances to find your content.
4. Pages do not appear in RSS feeds
An RSS feed is a file used by RSS readers like Feedly to display the latest content from your site. Usually the last 10 posts. The idea is for people to read your latest content without visiting your blog.
This is something to remember when it comes to creating content for your site. There are times when publishing a page is better than publishing a post, and vice-versa. If you don’t know what a typical RSS feed looks like, click here to see the RSS feed for this site.
5. Pages do not display the publication date (posts do)
It makes sense for posts to display the publication date as it helps readers decide if the content is fresh or old and out of date. This is particularly true for ever-changing sectors such as SEO and technology.
By default, WordPress displays the publication date of each post. If the date doesn’t show on your site, it’s probably as a result of the theme you’re using.
If the theme you use shows the date, but you want to remove it, you will have to use a plugin or hack the code.
To close – when published, a post and a page are the same, but they have different purposes. If your site is small and you don’t intend adding a lot of content or running a blog – use pages, if your site is expanding all the time, use posts and pages. If you’re not sure and want some advice, get in touch. I’ll gladly help you decide.