Static Website Pages and Updating Blog Posts

The two main content areas you have as options for your website are static pages and update posts. The two content areas both take an article with its media such as images and videos but they archive and categorize it in a different way. As their name implies, pages are for content that remains static, meaning that it is constantly available. While posts are dated and archived by date, and a feed of this content is available with the most current post at the top of the list.

You can use these content areas in different ways, but the standard way is to assume that pages are a website and posts are called a blog.

Static Website Pages

Pages are arranged in a tree menu. Imagine a tree branch with its first single branch coming from the trunk then branching out with smaller branches and ending in twigs. A main branch is called a parent and a twig is called a child. The hierarchy of this is similar to genealogy, so the top level page may be called a grandparent if the branch goes to a third level, but it starts to get hard to keep track of lineage names if you go too deep. So I’ll call the first branch a top level page and use parent and child to just name that relationship.

Top Level Article Parent Article 1 Child Article 1
Child Article 2
Parent Article 2 Child Article 1
Child Article 2
Parent Article 3 Parent Article 4 Child Article 1

It is rare for people to use more than 3 levels and most people only use 2.  As regards search engines, it is said that pages that go too deep are rarely indexed. The lengthy url can be a problem. Lastly the CMS itself sometimes has a problem displaying an open tree menu like this in a sidebar, and plugin writers may not allow for more than 3 levels, and some only 2.

You cannot mix the two content areas. They are separate. For example, you cannot put a page in a post category list. You can use a plugin to relate them.

Top level pages always show in your top navigation bar in the numerical order you created them. You must use a plugin to exclude them and reorder them.

Pages do not have a tag system either by default, but you can use the Simple Tags plugin to include tags on pages. With this plugin you can also switch the two topic systems by converting categories to tags and tags to categories, if you decide you got it wrong.

Pages and Permalinks

If permalinks are used, the Page url will show this tree relationship if there are several parent and child pages going to a deep level. As you can see, the url can get very long.
http://www.domain.com/article1name/article2name/article3name/article4name

Updating Blog Posts

Posts are automatically dated but you can set whether or not this date shows in your theme. Posts are also automatically archived by month and year, so you can always show a listing of all your posts by using the archives widget. Other than this Posts are not hierarchical.

Their category folders however are hierarchical, just like pages and you can branch out endlessly if you choose to. A post can be ticked to be included in several category folders or just one. The category folder that is ticked does not have to be in the same category branch as it’s parent. If a category box is ticked, this post’s content will be included in the category list menu and its feed, for posts included in this category.

Posts and Permalinks

A permalink, also called a pretty link or seo link, is a way to show an url that isn’t made up of numbers. For example a normal default link might show a post as http://www.domain.com/?pid=10

For search engine optimization we wish to display the post title in the url rather than the post id number such as “pid10”. Permalinks let us do this and we can choose how we want it displayed. We can choose from a range of options such as date and page id numbers, category and page name options.

You need to take some care with choosing your permalink structure. Opinions vary as to the perfect structure and no one decision fits all sites perfectly.

It is quite common for people to recommend you use the permalink structure /category/postname/ . For 2 level sites, people using this structure will rarely have problems with it, but in my humble opinion and especially for people using multiple post categories, it’s not your best choice.

WordPress suggests you leave in the post id or use a date as the first option and then use the post name. I have tried other ways and had problems, and now I know this, it makes sense to me to use a unique id to prevent database conflicts.

For example if you have a post category called boats, a top level page called boats and use boats as a tag – with no unique id – how can your CMS know which you mean when you type in an url which appears to be the same for each? You may get unexpected results and slug alterations as it tries to cope with the conflict. This is especially true when you use the simple tags plugin to relate posts and pages.

Keep the three “categorisation” names unique and you shouldn’t get conflicts. Think carefully before including category in a permalink especially if you don’t want to use a number in the url.

If you enable permalinks to display the category in the url, it will display the top level category, but it may also sometimes display three folder names, especially if the top level and second level category are not ticked, but the third level category is. If a post is ticked for several unrelated categories, the url displayed will be for the category with the lowest id number.

If you are using permalinks and deep level categories, I suggest you do not choose to display category names in the permalink. Again the reason is because of conflicts and url length. If you want to change your permalink structure, consider using the Platinum SEO plugin which will redirect incoming links to old posts to the new permalink url and reduce 404 error pages.

Custom Posts, Pages and Fields

Posts and Pages are the main content areas and are fully supported by the CMS with menus and archives. The CMS also however supports custom posts, pages and fields. Many plugins such as event and e-commerce plugins use this functionality to create content outside these default areas, so they are kept unique and separate from the 2 normal website content areas.

You can create custom posts too, but as yet it requires a range of plugins to do so as a user. It’s easy enough to create a custom post but linking to the new content can be very complicated. It is an advanced technique that will take some time for most people to understand and get working properly.

Category and Tag links

If you display categories and tags at the end of posts, these display as a link with the anchor text as the tag or category name. They lead to a page that displays a feed of posts only from this topic. By default these links display ( if permalinks are enabled) as

http://www.diywebco.com/category/steps/

http://www.diywebco.com/tag/post

For this reason, tags are often chosen to SEO your internal linking with good keyword phrases. This technique is a trade off. To use a neat tag cloud for navigation, filling up tags with keyword phrases is very messy. But tags are used as search keywords if you use the internal blog search widget.

So you have to decide which system you want to use. A tag cloud that leads to a few very relevant feeds for alternate categories ( as I do on this site). To use tags in a similar way to a books index, even if often you will have tag pages with only one post on it. Or to use keyword phrases for their SEO benefit and onsite optimization, at the expense of good tag organisation.

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