Categories are super important to your blog. Unfortunately, almost nobody tells that to new bloggers (especially those “Start a blog in 20 minutes!” posts).
Special side-note request since I can’t help it: please don’t ever start your blog in 20 minutes. Take a proper amount of time, do research, and plan before you dive in and end up blowing a lot of money (at nobody’s benefit but the blogger who is urging you to start in 20 minutes). In the end, you’ll spend a LOT more time fixing things than if you just started with care and a plan.
But back to how to set up categories…
If you don’t know what your categories should be yet, I wrote a post about how to decide on that. It’s written mainly for food bloggers, but the principle is the same for any niche. Click here to read that first.
As you can tell in that post, I highly recommend using Parent categories and subcategories, so that’s what we’re going to do here.
How to add a category in WordPress
In your WordPress dashboard, hover over “Posts” and click on “Categories.”
To create a parent category, type in the name of your category (in this example “Dinner”), then just click the “Add New Category” button.
You’ll now see your Dinner category in the list to the right. This will be a Parent category.
How to add subcategories
To add subcategories, go back to the Name field, and type in your subcategory name (in this case, “Pasta”). But before clicking “Add,” go two fields down to the “Parent Category” field. Select your parent category. Now click “Add New Category.”
And you can see your subcategory to the right nested underneath the parent category.
To make it a little quicker, you can keep adding subcategories and the last parent category you added will stay selected. When you’re ready to add a new parent category, just go down to the Parent Category field and select “None.”
And if you have sub-subcategories, the process is exactly the same. When you select your Parent Category from the dropdown, you’ll see the nested category (in this case “Dinner → Pasta”). Though sub-subcategories should be used sparingly.
How to re-categorize blog posts
So now you have all the new categories as you want them. What if you already have posts on your blog and want to change the categories? First, if you just change an old category you have instead of creating a new one, all of your posts will automatically update to the newly changed category.
Here’s how to do that:
How to turn a category into a subcategory
If you have a category such as “Eggs,” turning it into a subcategory of a parent like “Breakfast” is simple.
- In your WordPress dashboard, hover over “Posts” and click on “Categories.”
- Hover over the category you want to change, and then click on “Edit.”
- The third field down will be “Parent Category.” Click on that box and then select the parent you want it to be under.
Then towards the bottom, click the “Update” button to save your changes.
Note: when you change categories, you’ll need to set up 301 redirects. Post on how to do that coming soon.
But if you created new categories and want to move blog posts from the old categories to new categories, here’s how to do that:
How to change blog post categories in bulk
If you have a lot of blog posts and need to move them from one category to another, there is a quick and easy way.
- In your WordPress dashboard, click on Posts to see all your posts.
- Above the posts, click on “All Categories” then select the category you want to change.
- Click the “Filter” button (it’s now showing you only the posts with that category)
- Select the checkbox next to “Title” to select all of the posts in that category.
- Click “Bulk Actions” then select “Edit” and click the “Apply” button.
- Now check the categories you would like all these posts to be under now. Then click “Update”
Note: this will not remove the old category from the posts, that either has to be done one post at a time, or you can just go and delete the old category.
Again, if you delete a category, you’ll want to create a 301 redirect so that if anyone visits that page, they get sent to a new category instead of the dreaded 404 “Page not found” page.
If you have a whole lot of blog posts to change, you might want to check out the plugin called Bulk Move. It makes it quicker and easier, but it’s good to test any plugin like this on a staging site first if you have one.