This might seem like a newbie question but bear with me for a second. While most people have already decided on when and where to use posts vs. pages in WordPress when creating new content, it’s worth taking a step back and having a closer look at the options.
By doing so you might pick up some new tips on organising your content in a better way and making it easier for your readers and the search engines to find.
Posts vs. Pages
WordPress has come a long way since its humble beginnings that saw it mainly used a blogging platform. It’s now used for much more than that and is a popular choice for those building more traditional websites that sometimes don’t even feature a blog at all.
However, most people tend to publish their content as a post; even it might be better suited as a page. There are a number of key differences between posts and pages that can help you decide which is best for the particular piece of content you are about to publish:
Comments: as readers cannot leave comments on pages, pages are a good choice for content you don’t want to be discussed directly on the same webpage. This could include items such as terms and conditions and promotional content. Opening up a public discussion forum on a product or service you are advertising on your site might not be the best way to win new clients and customers.
Feed Inclusion: new posts to a WordPress site are automatically included in its newsfeed. Readers subscribed to the RSS feed of your site, through a service like Feedly, will see your latest posts appear in their feed reader, helping increase the number of people who consume your content and visit your site.
If you are using an email newsletter service that sends out automated roundups of new content that has been added to your site at regular intervals, by default only new posts will be included and not pages. Again you will be missing out on drawing visitors back to your site with your new content.
While at first glance, you might want all content on your site seen by as many people as possible, by distributing it via RSS and email, this isn’t always the case. If you are adding content that isn’t timely or newsworthy, such as information about your services, or location of business, then it’s probably best not to auto-send this content to your subscribers.
The same goes for when adding lots of content of this type at the same time, such as during a site launch or update. Filling your feed with newly published content that isn’t particular new in terms of its actual content, isn’t going to be appreciated by your subscribers. If you are genuinely offering a new service or have something to announce then write a post specifically covering that announcement for distribution via the feed.
Categories and Tags: WordPress taxonomies, such as tags, categories and any others you might use, are great ways to organise content. However, only posts can make use of this feature. That might make it sound like pages are standalone pieces of content, rather than being grouped with other pieces of content with tags or categories.
However, pages have their own form of grouping. This is the hierarchical structure which can be applied to pages. This allows you to create subpages of many levels deep, using the parent and child system. For example you could create a page called ‘reviews’, and then under that page create lots of individual review pages as child or subpages. While this doesn’t work in exactly the same way as taxonomies, it does facilitate a similar effect in terms of grouping and organising related content.
Individual Templates: when creating a new page, you are given the opportunity to apply a page template to it. This allows individual pages in WordPress to have a different appearance from the other content on your site. This is ideal for creating landing pages, promotional pages or pages for displaying different types of content such as portfolios. You can create your own page templates or use the ones that came with the theme you are using. While WordPress posts have custom post types to achieve a similar goal, they don’t have this easily accessible method for changing their appearance on an individual basis.
When to Use Posts
Posts in WordPress are by default, published and in reverse chronological order on your site, with the newest post displayed first. This means that if you are publishing a blog, journal or news type site, most of your content will be best created as a WordPress post.
Why Pages Might be a Better Choice
If you are creating a more traditional website with static pages, such as a website for an organisation of company, pages are more than likely going to be a better choice for the majority of the content. By using the parent and child relationship for pages, content can still be well organised without the need for categories and other taxonomies.
For example, a site listing a company’s services could have a page called services with a brief overview, followed up with a number of child pages covering each service in detail. Not only will the URL structure be helpful to visitors but if your theme supports it, a breadcrumb trail will be displayed showing the relationship between the pages.
As mentioned previously, applying a template to an individual page that is different to the one used on the rest of your site is very easy. It’s simply a case of selecting the template from the dropdown menu when creating or editing a page. Most modern themes come with page templates or you could create your own. Some range from simply removing the sidebars to display a full width page, while others go as far as utilising a completely different design to the rest of the site.
While posts and the blog concept are idea for publishing news items and latest updates, some content is timeless or evergreen. Content of this type, such as tutorials, guides and information that isn’t likely to go out of date and is time-irrelevant, might be better served with a page rather than a post.
Although it’s important to remember that using pages will dull your promotional outreach somewhat, thanks to pages not being automatically published to your RSS feed. For this reason many sites continue use posts to publish evergreen content such as guides and reviews.
Page Management Plugins
When managing sites with multiple pages, especially those with lots of parent and child relationships, WordPress really shows its true colours as a blogging platform, in terms of the user interface. While you can create unlimited pages and posts in WordPress, managing a growing list of pages can prove quite troublesome.
Thankfully a selection of plugins has developed to make page management in WordPress easier to work with. Here are a few options to make your life easier:
- Advanced Page Manager: free, popular and great for working with lots of pages
- CMS Tree Page View: give the WordPress interface a CMS style makeover
While there is no right or wrong way to use WordPress and pages and posts, which is part of what makes it such a versatile platform, you can make your life and that of your readers easier by choosing the best match for your site and each piece of content.
It can be hard to move away from using posts by default for the majority of your content. However in some cases it might not be the best approach, so it’s worth spending a bit of time weighing up the pros and cons and deciding which format is the best choice before hitting that ‘Add New…’ button.