Producing interesting content may be the key task for all writers but figuring out the infrastructure and the categorization of content cannot be forgotten. In most cases this is something you will decide when launching your site and will not need to worry too much about it afterwards. The issue is that most newbies get overwhelmed with the different options and don’t realise the importance of getting it all right. Let’s take a look at different features of your site infrastructure and possibilities you have in regards to categorizing your content.
The obvious one is the domain name. It is the main part of your site and will be the part of your site that most visitors notice first be it on search engine result pages or in their social media feeds. I’ve already covered the three methods you can choose from when selecting a domain name.
Permalinks are the individual URL’s of your posts. These are permanent and should never change hence the name permalink. There are many different formats to choose from and this decision is best taken shortly after installing WordPress before you publish any of the content. To do this go into “Settings” then “Permalinks”. These are the default options you have in WordPress:
- Default: http://howtomakemyblog.com/?p=123
- Day and name: http://howtomakemyblog.com/2013/07/28/sample-post/
- Month and name: http://howtomakemyblog.com/2013/07/sample-post/
- Numeric: http://howtomakemyblog.com/archives/123
- Post name: http://howtomakemyblog.com/sample-post/
I would recommend not to use the “Default” setting as that only has the page ID number and doesn’t feature any keywords from your post headline which makes it harder to rank in search engines. Which option you go for really depends on what you want your URL’s to look like. On my site I choose the custom options of /%category%/%postname%/ to show both my category name and the post name in my URL’s. On some recent projects I started I removed /%category%/ and was just left with the post name. I find that using post name only makes it much cleaner, shorter and simpler.
Navigation menu is one of the key things for your visitors. If they are new to your site the navigation could help lead them to more information about your content, to more information about you and the other authors, to the archives of your site and to your most popular content. I have chosen to put my navigation prominently under the header image and currently the main page I link to is my about page where I have information about me and about the site.
Posts are the main content of your site. Posts are the articles you are regularly writing for your visitors. They appear in your RSS feed, can be tagged and categorised. Posts traditionally feature a published on date in the byline and are placed in a reverse chronological order on your home page. This is where it is at, this is where you will spend majority of your time in the day to day.
Pages are more strategic and do not get updated daily. They are traditionally placed in your navigational menu and are updated less frequently so they don’t normally show a published on date. Pages contain more static information like a page that explains what your site is about, a page that features personal information about yourself, contact form where people can get in touch and a list of resources. This is exactly how I use pages on my site – there is an about page with introduction what I am about and what the site is about. There is a contact form through which you can submit your message and get in touch with me.
Using Pages wisely helps turn your site into more of a static website. You can for example use a page as a front page of your site showcasing your work or your product instead of showing a list of latest posts as many sites traditionally do. Pages are also very useful when used as a resource on a topic. You could for example collect and present all your content on a certain topic related to your niche in a nicely presented page which you then add to the navigation or to the sidebar. You can then use this page when linking as a main hub about that certain content.
Deciding how to use pages, what content to feature via pages and which pages to place in your navigation menu are important decision to make when running a site. Because of their navigation menu placement and them being shown throughout the site, pages tend to get high traffic and are very well ranked in the search engines so use them strategically for the important content and call-to-actions that you want your users to take. Create your product pages, landing pages, hub pages for certain topics and more. Pages are very useful and can help you get closer to your objectives. Use them strategically and wisely.
Categories allow you to easily group your post topics to allow your users to find your content easier. WordPress by default uses category “Uncategorized” which I am not a fan of so I make sure to remove it as soon as I install a new site. You can remove categories and add new categories by going to “Posts” and then “Categories”. If you go into “Settings” and then “Writing” in your admin interface you can select a new “Default Post Category” as well as otherwise all posts will by default go into “Uncategorized”. I focus on categories on my site and link to category pages from individual posts. Some writers would for example link to category pages from the navigation menu or from the sidebar as well.
With categories you separate different topics that you write about in your posts. Now, your site of course has one main subject that it covers, but it still has sub-topics. Otherwise it would be impossible to create so much content if you were only publishing about one and the only thing. Having a category means that you also have a category page which lists all the posts from that category. These pages are very useful in order to give your visitors a nice access point to dig deeper into your content. You could for example link to these pages from your sidebar, link to them from within the content and even put them inside your navigation menu.
Tags are similar to categories but they are just used more specifically. They keywords that are much more specific than categories and while I might have a category called ”Celebrity style” I might put a celebrity’s name as a tag to a post. Tags are usually links which lead to a page showcasing all the posts that have been tagged with that specific keyword. They’re easily added to any post in your right hand corner while writing a post. You might have seen widgets that show a bunch of tags in the sidebar of a page. Personally, I find them annoying and prefer ‘Most popular posts’ widgets to these. They look messy and showcasing a bunch of words doesn’t seem inviting.