This one is something I have written about from time to time on the blog and no doubt I will again. Coming to this conclusion was the culmination of 11 years of using WordPress on my own sites as well as teaching it to beginners.
Recently it hit me again. Someone was at my Intro to WordPress session at WordCamp Portland. Afterwards she shared a moment that opened her eyes.
The Power of Categories in WordPress
Now if you have been using WordPress for quite some time, you may be thinking, well, duh. Or maybe, seriously dude?
Let’s start with the obvious. I have a post entitled How to Easily Add Two Blogs to a Single WordPress Site. It is a post on how you can use categories to organize your content on your blog. So, essentially, you can break it up into topics. The current post is version three of the original post. Between comments that are on the current post and past posts, some that did not carry over any comments, there have been roughly 600 comments total.
Many of them were similar, in the vein of, Thank you. I have been trying to figure this out for months.
Categories are Everywhere
Depending on your experience with WordPress, you have likely noticed how much those plugins and themes rely on categories.
For example, often themes will let you control how the content is displayed and what your readers see. When it comes to plugins, it’s endless. Search plugins that let you exclude categories, portfolio plugins that allow you to organize images through categories, social scheduling plugins that give you control over what you share via categories. The list goes on and on.
Online Stores Survive on Categories
Think of any brick and mortar store you go into. For example, in your local grocery store, everything is in its own area. You don’t find frozen steaks in the middle of the ice cream section.
Similarly, when you create an online store, categories are essential for organizing your products to make the shopping experience optimal for your customers.
Limit Those Categories, Maybe
If you have ever listened to someone talk about categories, maybe during an instruction workshop or video, they always warn you not to use too many. They need to be broad yet defined. Often they are compared to chapters in a book, with tags being the index. You don’t want to confuse you readers with too many categories. It can be overwhelming.
But there are exceptions to the rules. Because we can use categories for our own agenda. For hidden content. For more control.
Here are two examples of how I have recently used categories.
Scheduled Social Shares
I use a plugin called Social Web Suites that allows me to schedule my shared tweets, etc. It lets me schedule tweets from posts in categories. For example, let’s say I have a bunch of WooCommerce posts. Instead of running through all of them, I break them into specific categories to share. This allows me to easier control which of the posts in this category go out to the Twitter world. No one sees these categories on my site. They are solely for this reason.
I write about a lot of plugins. Sometimes these plugins run sales and I certainly don’t want to add them to each related post manually. So I create categories based on vendors and use an ad plugin to place the appropriate text in a post, during a specific time for the sale, based on those categories.
These are just two examples. There are many, many more.
In a Nutshell, Categories = Organization and Control of Your Content
Whether it’s for my readers, my monetization efforts or my sanity, the feature of categories keeps on giving and never lets me down. As the changes in WordPress come and go, I predict that this powerful feature is here to stay and will continue to be extremely useful to all of us users.
An audio option for this post.